Kevin Bales, president of Free The Slaves, has been awarded the 2011 University of Louisville Grawemeyer Award for Ideas Improving World Order.
Bales earned the prize for his blueprint to eliminate modern slavery, as presented in his 2007 book, Ending Slavery: How We Free Today’s Slaves. According to the jurists, “Bales lays out an urgent human challenge, offers ways to make a difference and challenges the reader to become part of the solution.”
The book details the political and economic steps that need to be taken to end the enslavement of some 27 million people throughout the world. Bales predicts that slavery can be stopped within 20 years at a cost of less than $20 billion.
The impact of his ideas has been felt widely. In 2008, the U.S. Congress passed the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act, an anti-slavery law that incorporates recommendations from the book. The Lexis-Nexis charitable foundation meanwhile donated hundreds of copies to the American Bar Association, whilst NGOs such as International Justice Mission have included the abolishment of slavery in their core goals.
On receiving the Grawemeyer Bales commented, “Winning this award will be an enormous help to me. For one thing, it continues to help legitimate the issue, which seems very new and surprising to a lot of people in the public”.
At the same time, the monetary element of the award ($100,000) will help expedite research for Bales’ upcoming book on the relationship between slavery and environmental destruction, as well as a project on forced marriage – a form of slavery as recognized by the United Nations.