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In Partnership with International Justice Mission

The Global Fight to Protect People from Slavery and Violence

2237 Rayburn House Office Building

Gary Haugen's firsthand experience investigating systemic human rights abuses helped him recognize a troubling pattern: people living in the world’s poorest communities experienced constant physical danger because their local justice systems weren’t equipped to defend them from the violence they faced every day. Haugen was told that this would never change, but he believed otherwise, leading to the founding of International Justice Mission (IJM). Since 1997, IJM's reach has expanded globally into 31 program offices in 16 countries working to combat trafficking and slavery, violence against women and children and police abuse of power.

Still, these issues of violence persist, affecting millions around the world – an estimated 50 million people live modern slavery globally and nearly 736 million women have experienced physical and/or sexual violence at least once in their lifetime.

Government officials in the United States are uniquely positioned to create policies and foreign assistance programs that protect vulnerable people from these human rights abuses. How can policymakers work to increase access to justice, hold criminals accountable, and reduce the prevalence of violence and exploitation?


Gary Haugen is CEO and founder of International Justice Mission.

Before founding IJM in 1997, Gary was a human rights attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice, where he focused on crimes of police misconduct. In 1994, he served as the Director of the United Nations’ investigation in the aftermath of the Rwandan genocide. In this role, he led an international team of lawyers, criminal prosecutors, law enforcement officers, and forensics experts to gather evidence that would eventually be used to bring the perpetrators of the genocide to justice. Gary received a B.A. in Social Studies from Harvard University, and a J.D. from the University of Chicago.

Gary has been recognized by the U.S. State Department as a Trafficking in Persons “Hero” – the highest honor given by the U.S. government for anti-slavery leadership. His work to protect the poor from violence has been featured by Foreign Affairs, The New York Times, the New Yorker, The Times of India, Forbes, U.S. News and World Report, the Guardian and National Public Radio, among many other outlets. He is the author of several books, including Good News About Injustice (Intervarsity Press) and, most recently, The Locust Effect: Why the End of Poverty Requires the End of Violence (Oxford University Press). Gary was invited to share the themes of The Locust Effect at the annual TED Conference in a talk entitled: The hidden reason for poverty the world needs to address now.