Successes and Failures in International Human Trafficking Law

Professor Carr yesterday remarked that human trafficking is too often discussed only in theoretical or academic ways. I’ve spent most of my career in the field, where interactions with victims, traffickers, and defense attorneys are anything but theoretical. But as keynote speaker for an academic symposium this morning, I’m going to try to lay out a bit of the conceptual state of play from my current vantage point. The title of this symposium, “Successes and Failures in International Human Trafficking Law,” is a bit binary. Perhaps, in the best diplomatic tradition, we can temper that to “Limitations and Opportunities in International Human Trafficking Law” for my purposes today. And I think I’m suited to offer some personal reflections here at the Law School today, having worked on this issue, whether as one of Professor MacKinnon’s students, helping with the groundbreaking symposium that brought cutting-edge work to the fore; as a young trial lawyer in the Civil Rights Division; as a staff member on the House Judiciary Committee; and now as Ambassador-at- Large to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons.