Trafficking in the Solomon Islands
Human trafficking is an appendage of inhumanity and crime that has innate ties to the broader scope of global poverty. Traffickers take advantage of people in impoverished conditions through predatory work contracts, coerced sex work and exploiting the workers through the largest markets in the world. The small islands that make up the Solomon Islands are an observable microcosm of human trafficking in nearly all its practiced forms. Fortunately, when surveying the pervasiveness of human trafficking in the Solomon Islands, there also is a pathway for ending human trafficking across the world.

The Context

The Solomon Islands is a country that includes six major islands and hundreds of smaller ones dotted across the Oceanic sprawl. Despite its seemingly inconspicuous size, it is a port for incoming and outgoing exploited human labor.  The poverty rate is as high as 31.5% in the Makira province according to the Solomon Islands Household Income and Expenditure Survey.

The Solomon Islands is a country that is economically vulnerable as its main exports require hard labor for a population that is around 600,000 people. The country’s main export is wood and it has a prominent logging industry which is very labor-intensive.  Mining,  agriculture, fishing and palm oil manufacturing and fishing are also labor intensive.

Trafficking in the Solomon Islands

A 2021 report from the United States Department of State revealed the dynamic nature of human trafficking in the Solomon Islands. Work contractors often take vulnerable immigrant laborers from southeast and east Asian nations such as Sri Lanka, The Philippines and North Korea. Then, they bring them to the Solomon Islands as fishermen or timber workers and pay them little to no wage under inhumane conditions.

In addition, traffickers force children who are native to the Solomon Islands into working in labor and sex trafficking in exchange for necessities. The combination of economic vulnerability and low population makes children in poverty-stricken families especially susceptible to becoming trafficking victims.

An American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative report surveyed 406 people from the provinces of Malaita, Guadalcanal, Makira and Western. About 49% cited that they believed victims of human trafficking should be accountable for their own involvement (placing the blame on the victims) and more than 44% did not report their knowledge of human trafficking instances.

The Solomon Islands’ Response

The same U.S. State Department report indicated that the Solomon Islands is a Tier Two nation regarding the degree of human trafficking violations. This indicates that the nation does not meet the standards of the Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000. However, the nation is in a cooperative state and working towards meeting the standard of Tier One by allocating more funds and bureaucratic efforts toward transparency and response by local officials to address instances of trafficking. The U.S. State Department recommends measures including increasing the minimum age for hazardous work to 18.

Obstacles to a Solution

One key aspect of the global effort to end human trafficking in the Solomon Islands that has not occurred yet is the lack of the U.S. ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. The United States is the only country of 196 others that has not signed this treaty. However, it is important to consider because the U.S., Mexico and the Philippines are the leading destinations for trafficked victims according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. If others hold the leading destinations for trafficking more accountable, then the trafficking of victims from the Solomon Islands may also see a decline.


The U.S. Department of Labor 2020 report presented a legal framework that increases access to educational opportunities for youth in economically susceptible homes. This would chiefly be accomplished by introducing laws that would go beyond catching those who traffic. New laws would also hold officials accountable for not performing the duties necessary to address the problem. In addition, eliminating the source of economic strain that leads to child labor in the first place by making education accessible, high. quality and free is a start to ending human trafficking.

Bringing awareness to the issue of Human Trafficking as it exists in the Solomon Islands will allow its citizens to become more hands-on with tackling the problem in a more democratic way. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is a key appendage of the United Nations which has a page dedicated to the Solomon Islands and offers worldwide outreach to end human trafficking.

Looking Ahead

Human Trafficking is an issue that pervades every society. However, strict international and governmental policies alongside economic aid to poorer nations are practices that could put a stop to the exploitation of vulnerable peoples. Though the task may seem too daunting and the response too decentralized, it is possible with the help of more legislative initiatives by the largest world powers and cooperation from the international community.

Albert Vargas
Photo: Flickr

Child Poverty in New Zealand
In New Zealand, 27 percent of children live in income poverty. This means that around 290,000 children struggle with a multitude of difficulties including homelessness, missed meals and lack of heating at home.

In addition to both short-term suffering and long-term financial and health issues for the individual, child poverty in New Zealand costs the national economy more than $6 billion per year. While this phenomenon is long withstanding, the government has recently committed to quantifying and systematically addressing this problem.

Education, Employment and Health Impacts

The measure of child poverty in New Zealand is not legally defined but is generally accepted to be the situation in which the child lives in the home where the household income is below 60 percent of the national average. These children suffer from a number of related harms, including lower educational achievement, diminished employment opportunities and poor health.

The inability to afford a uniform, lunch or other school materials can inhibit a child from attending school, and an unstable home life and hunger can decrease performance in class. In the long run, this influences job opportunities and future income, creating a poverty cycle.

Child poverty also has a significant influence on the health of a child. Those living below the poverty line are six times as likely to die of sudden unexpected death in infancy (SUDI), three times as likely to get sick and twice as likely to need a hospital visit, compared to the average child.

As an adult, these kids are predisposed to develop a number of chronic health problems, including heart disease, addiction, obesity and dental complications. Poor physical health and hardships growing up increase the risk of mental health issues as well.

Government Action

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has made child poverty in New Zealand a government priority, promising to cut child poverty numbers in half over the next decade. The recently submitted New Zealand Child Poverty Reduction Bill commits the government to make child poverty a priority, sets targets for which the government is directly accountable and requires transparent reporting about national child poverty levels. It currently has cross-party support, as well as endorsements from many organizations and advocacy groups.

Many aspects of the bill rely on recommendations from the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCROC), focusing on children’s rights and well-being with an emphasis on including family and community context. Some of the steps outlined in the bill include housing assistance, energy payment in the winter, restructuring of benefits for newborns and high-level data reporting.

Government Responsibilities

The government does not currently release statistics on child poverty levels. Budget impact and progress reports required by the bill would provide a legal framework for determining these programs and gauging the success of the outcomes.

While government commitment inspires hope, to make a significant decrease in levels of child poverty in New Zealand strong policy solutions must be implemented and the budget must be adapted to support those programs. Adoption of the Child Poverty Reduction Bill would hold the government accountable by law to alleviate child poverty, thereby improving the lives of a significant portion of the population.

Many of the recommendations and programs proposed by the bill have proven to be successful in other countries around the world, offering confidence that the children of New Zealand can have a brighter future if the government continues to take action.

Georgia Orenstein
Photo: Flickr

27 African Countries Pledge to End Child MarriageIn Dakar, Senegal, leaders from western and central Africa have pledged to end child marriage in their countries. Political leaders, activists and tribal chiefs from nations such as Zambia, Uganda and Malawi sat down in the region’s first meeting to address this issue.

Currently, it is estimated that it would take 100 years to end child marriage in west and central Africa, which is stricken by poverty. Due to religious practices or insecurities, it is traditional for many families to marry off young girls. The recent pledge by 27 African leaders to end child marriage by 2030 is part of the commitment to achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. 

At an END Child Marriage event organized in New York, President Peter Mutharika of Malawi stated that it is important for young women to have their rights and that full potential cannot be reached until early marriage is stopped. The country of Malawi has banned child marriage this year after previously raising the legal age to marry to 18 and adding a $145 fine to any violators.

In the Gambia, the practice of child marriage is prohibited and punishable by law with a 20-year prison sentence. Many other countries have already banned child marriage which is a positive step towards achieving the same ban in other African nations wanting to outlaw this practice, as it will inspire change for the better.

At the First African Girls’ Summit on Ending Child Marriage in Africa, hosted in November 2015 in Zambia, Roland Angerer, Plan International’s Regional Director for Eastern and Southern Africa, said, “It is essential that we promote education and encourage dialogue if we want to change social norms and attitudes that perpetuate child marriage.” 

Angerer maintains that education is one of the biggest factors which delay the age at which girls get married. As such, governments must ensure that schools are accessible, inclusive and safe. Further, they must include good quality teaching materials, to enable more girls to attend and stay on in school.

In addition to better education, setting a minimum age of 18 for marriage will also be established via state legislation. This will keep countries in line with guidelines such as the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child.

Ending child marriage not only stops many cases of violence and abuse, but it also empowers and advances women’s rights in many sectors. It is important for all members of the community to be involved with this task of eliminating the practice and implementing national strategies to reach the goal by 2030. 

– Lorial Roballo

Photo: Flickr

Novak Djokovic, the number one men’s tennis player in the world, has added a new honor to his list of accomplishments: United Nations Children’s Fund Celebrity Goodwill Ambassador.

Djokovic championed children’s rights for years before his appointment in late August. He previously served as UNICEF’s Serbia Ambassador, and his own organization, the Novak Djokovic Foundation, works to improve children’s lives in Serbia by cooperating with Serbian schools, local organizations and non-governmental organizations.

The Foundation “has focused its activities towards the improvement of conditions in which children in Serbia get education, grow up and play.”

Djokovic’s foundation and UNICEF work to uphold the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of the Child. These rights include the ability to have access to services such as education. Djokovic joined UNICEF in 2011 as the Serbian Ambassador and has since visited Serbian schools with UNICEF.

“The early years of life are crucial. When well nurtured and cared for in their earliest years, children are more likely to survive, to grow in a healthy way, to have fewer illnesses, to develop thinking, language, emotional and social skills and become productive and successful citizens of society,” he said about his commitment to children’s causes.

Djokovic joins a list of Goodwill Ambassadors famous for sports, film, theater and more. He and David Beckham are among the most notable athletes currently serving as Goodwill Ambassadors. With their fame, these ambassadors help to bring children’s issues to the forefront of public consciousness, and Djokovic has already shown his dedication to improving children’s lives.

Rachelle Kredentser

Photo: UN