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 Protection Reauthorization Act, an anti-slavery law which includes recommendations from his book. The nonprofit 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 Organization 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.
UofL established the Grawemeyer Awards in 1984 with funding from H. Charles Grawemeyer, and now awards annual prizes for outstanding works in music composition, ideas improving world order, psychology and education. UofL jointly gives the Grawemeyer prize in religion with the Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary.
UofL will announce the recipient of the 2011 Grawemeyer Award in Psychology Wednesday, Dec. 1. Announcement of the 2011 Grawemeyer Award in Education winner is pending and will not be made this week, award officials said.