Case #1991.0

United States and Thailand: Diplomatic Wrangles in the War on Human Trafficking

Publication Date: May 16, 2013
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In early 2010, Robert Griffiths, Counselor for Economic Affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok, braced himself for the possibility of serious diplomatic fallout with Thailand's government. Griffiths was in charge of providing the analysis on human trafficking in Thailand for the U.S. State Department's annual Trafficking in Persons report, but with a steady rise in victims of trafficking, Thailand was at risk of being put on the State Department's watchlist of countries making inadequate progress. For the Thai government, which took pride in its counter-trafficking efforts, being placed on the U.S. watchlist would constitute humiliation by a longtime friend. And for Griffiths, a senior representative of the U.S. Foreign Service in Thailand, provoking the host government's ire could imperil not only future collaboration against human trafficking, but also important engagements on trade, intellectual property and security.

The case traces the hard realities of fighting human trafficking even when close allies, like the U.S. and Thailand, share similar aspirations. With an in-depth profile of the U.S. legislation against global human trafficking, the case offers an insiders view of the charged diplomatic engagement between the two countries in 2010.

Learning Objective:
The case helps students explore the role of information as a policy instrument to induce desired actions among external actors. Students closely examine if the State Department's annual Trafficking in Persons report and tier ranking process can help achieve the broader goal of reducing trafficking in Thailand.

Other Details

Teaching Plan:
Available with Educator Access
Case Author:
Anjani Datla
Faculty Lead:
John D. Donahue
Pages (incl. exhibits):
Funding Source:
Joseph B. Tompkins, Jr. Fund for Case Study and Research