Plan to end slavery earns Grawemeyer Award
Nov. 30, 2010
LOUISVILLE, Ky. – A blueprint for eliminating modern slavery has earned its creator the 2011 University of Louisville Grawemeyer Award for Ideas Improving World Order.
Kevin Bales, president of Free the Slaves, a human rights organization based in Washington, D.C., won the $100,000 annual prize for ideas set forth in his 2007 book, “Ending Slavery: How We Free Today’s Slaves.”
In the book, Bales outlines steps to end the enslavement of some 27 million people worldwide. Slavery and human trafficking are tightly interwoven into the modern global economy, so new political and economic policies must be enacted to suppress them, he says.
Slavery, illegal in every country but still widely practiced, can be stopped within 30 years at a cost of less than $20 billion, a much cheaper price tag than most other social problems, he argues.
Several high-profile organizations already have adopted elements of Bales’ plan.
In 2008, the U.S. Congress passed the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Reauthorization Act, an anti-slavery law which includes recommendations from his book. The non-profit group International Justice Mission added “the end of slavery” to its goals, while Lexis-Nexis’ charitable foundation gave away hundreds of copies of “Ending Slavery” to the American Bar Association.
“Bales lays out an urgent human challenge, offers ways to make a difference and challenges the reader to become part of the solution,” award jurors said.
Since 2001, Bales’ group has liberated thousands of slaves in India, Nepal, Haiti, Ghana, Brazil, Ivory Coast and Bangladesh.
A consultant to the U.N. Global Program on Trafficking of Human Beings, Bales also has advised governments in Britain, Ireland, Norway and Nepal on slavery. He developed policies on slavery and human trafficking for the West African States, co-wrote a report on forced labor for the International Labor Office and studied human trafficking in the United States for the National Institutes of Justice.
In 2008, the Association of British Universities named his work one of the top “100 world-changing discoveries.” His 1999 book, “Disposable People: New Slavery in the Global Economy,” was translated into nine languages and made into a documentary that won Emmy and Peabody awards.
Five Grawemeyer Awards are presented each year for outstanding works in music composition, ideas improving world order, psychology, education and religion. Winners of the other 2011 Grawemeyer Awards also are being announced this week.