Human Trafficking on the International and Domestic Agendas: Examining the Role of Transnational Advocacy Networks Between Thailand and United States

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Bertone, Andrea Marie
Schreurs, Miranda
Thai activists, nonstate organizations, and transnational networks have been involved in trying to influence the Thai and international anti-trafficking agendas through their involvement with transnational and domestic advocacy networks since the early 1980s. Despite significant activism against human trafficking and related issues in Thailand throughout the 1980s and 1990s, the U.S. government and the broader international community did not seriously begin paying attention to human trafficking until the late 1990s. It was not until 2000 that both the U.S. government and the United Nations developed significant anti-trafficking policies. Why did it take until 2000 for the international community, including the U.S. government and many U.S.-based nonstate actors, to put the issue of trafficking on their political agendas, despite the fact that Thai-based nonstate actors and other Asian activists had been advocating for a response for nearly two decades? When the U.S. and the international community did finally put this issue on their agendas, how did Thai-based nonstate actors respond to international and U.S. styles of agenda-setting in Thailand? The issue of human trafficking has been put on the national political agendas in both the United States and Thailand; however, the issue took very different paths on its way to the agenda in each country. In the case of Thailand, we can find Thai activists working on related issues since the early 1980s, connecting and networking domestically and transnationally to advocate for a governmental response to complex international problems. In the case of the United States, an unlikely coalition of conservatives and feminist abolitionists has clashed with human rights organizations with regard to framing and defining human trafficking. One argument of this dissertation is that the emergence and operation of domestic and transnational advocacy networks have been instrumental in framing human trafficking in such a way to keep the issue on the national political agendas of the United States and Thailand. The primary drivers of the transnational advocacy networks are nonstate actors, and they have played key roles in spotlighting this issue, networking with one another, and interacting with governments in creative ways to address human trafficking.