The following article was written by Luis C. deBaca, Robina Fellow, Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, & Abolition, and Anne Gallagher, President, International Catholic Migration Commission, for the World Economic Forum.
The US Senate recently endorsed the nomination of long-standing civil rights prosecutor, John Cotton Richmond, as new Ambassador-at-Large to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons. This statutory post, created under the Clinton administration, has been critical in shaping the outsize role that the US has occupied in pushing the rest of the world to do something about what is now commonly termed ‘modern slavery’. But the position comes with heavy baggage. As the ambassador takes the helm, he should not underestimate the formidable task ahead of him.
The office of the ambassador was established in 2000 under the same federal law that also requires the State Department to produce an annual report documenting and assessing the response of every country (including its own, since 2010) to trafficking. Countries that receive a fail or near-fail grade are liable to a range of political and economic sanctions. While the report is subject to the approval of the Secretary of State, the ambassador is its author and public face.