How we came about
With a larger scope and broader outlook, Youth Underground is the logical extension of the Swiss NGO End Human Trafficking Now. EHTN spearheaded the link between businesses and human trafficking during the period 2006 to 2013. With the expansion of EHTN’s youth activities and increasing responsiveness from the youth, it was considered a logical step to establish an association that focused specifically on the voice of the youth against human trafficking.
EHTN was a groundbreaking initiative created for businesses by businesses, that pioneered in the field of human trafficking, bringing the topic of human trade to the world’s attention when this issue was not only completely misunderstood, but completely disregarded.
Youth Underground – previously Youth Against Human Trafficking – was created in December 2015, as a Swiss Nonprofit Association formed in accordance with articles 60 ff of the Swiss Civil Code, using EHTN’s history and experience to take on the battle against human trafficking by capturing the signs of our times – that of youth engagement through social media, and the tools used by the youth to make their voices heard on a global level. We are proud of having been a part of EHTN, both in terms of what it represented and what it fought for.
How it all began…
End Human Trafficking Now was the first worldwide initiative to engage the private sector in anti-trafficking efforts. EHTN became synonymous with the business community’s fight against human trafficking.
Whilst striving to put an end to human trafficking altogether, EHTN emphasized the role of the business community and put business companies at the forefront of anti-trafficking efforts. EHTN sought to integrate the business community into the solution of ending this illicit trade. It fully engaged the private sector in the fight against human trafficking, to acknowledge good business practices and focus on moving forward towards a zero tolerance policy against human trafficking. Today’s economic engine is enterprises, and their social responsibility is considered pivotal for putting an end to this terrible scourge.
EHTN was launched during the Roundtable of the Business Community against Human Trafficking in January 2006, in Athens, Greece. The Roundtable was organized with the private sector under the auspices of the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs, cosponsored by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the World Bank and the Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF), and the Foundation for the Child and the Family, and co-hosted by Motor Oil Hellas.
Discussions revealed that the missing component of anti-trafficking efforts was the business sector. While it has a pivotal role to play in fighting human trafficking, the business community was not involved in this endeavor. Business leaders adopted a set of ethical principles, the “Athens Ethical Principles,” to ensure their stand against human trafficking.
Taking an active role against human trafficking provides companies with a significant opportunity to be identified as leaders among industry peers and within society at large. Human trafficking can present risks to a business in its own operations, within the global supply chains and among business partners, including private employment agencies. There can be a legal risk because human trafficking is a crime in most countries worldwide, and a serious threat to brand or company reputation. This risk can be effectively addressed through actions taken at company, industry, national, regional and international levels. Working with stakeholders, including civil society groups and public policy actors can make business engagement more effective and sustainable. Although businesses alone cannot solve the problem of human trafficking, there is a great deal they can do within their own sphere of influence, including identifying trafficking victims and taking preventive and corrective action.
To this day, EHTN is used as a reference for the tremendous groundbreaking work it achieved – over a decade before human trafficking became common language – by speaking about the unspoken, challenging the business world and beyond, and finding solutions head-on to what appeared as overwhelming and insurmountable.
Find out more about EHTN and its initiatives:
The Athens Ethical Principles
The Business Leader’s Award to Fight Human Trafficking
The Business Leaser’s Award at the 2013 Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos
The E-Learning Tool to Fight Human Trafficking
Youth Against Human Trafficking was a social media platform through which the youth were given a voice to share and organize their own activities. The youth were always an important part of EHTN’s activities since its creation in 2006. EHTN tried to include a young people’s section in all its events, which was not only a learning experience for the youth and EHTN itself, but also an opportunity to hear what young people had to say. It was in this spirit that YAHT was created, in response to the feedback received throughout the years from young people (teenagers, school/university students) wanting to become more involved in raising awareness and taking action against human trafficking. It was a platform for the youth to express themselves and share their thoughts about ending this illicit trade. YAHT became the largest global youth social platform dedicated to the voice of young people against human trafficking.