Anita Ramasastry has been appointed to The Global Commission on Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking, which launched this month to address one of the greatest human rights issues of our time.

More than 50 million people around the world are trapped in modern slavery and human trafficking — an issue that the United Nations (U.N.) once agreed to end by 2030. However, the global pandemic of COVID-19, armed conflicts and the impacts of climate change are all factors that experts cite for a recent and alarming increase in human trafficking. The emergence of those situations both increased people’s vulnerability to exploitation and scaled down the urgency of problem-solving on the political agenda.

To accelerate global efforts to tackle these issues, a new international body chaired by former U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May launched this month in London. The Global Commission on Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking, which is currently supported by the governments of the UK and Bahrain, counts UW Law professor Anita Ramasastry as one of the 15 inaugural commissioners. Other commissioners include Sophie Otiende, CEO of the Global Fund to End Modern Slavery; Adama Dieng, Former UN Under-Secretary General; Alan Jope, the former CEO of Unilever; and Havovi Wadia, Director of Programs of The Freedom Fund.

At the University of Washington School of Law, Ramasastry is the Henry M. Jackson Professor of Law and Director of the Sustainable International Development LL.M. Program. She is an expert in the fields of business and human rights, anti-corruption and sustainable development. She is a graduate of Harvard University, Harvard Law School and the University of Sydney.

Ramasastry was tapped for the Commission due to her expertise relating to issues of forced labor in global supply chains. For six years leading up to 2022, she served as a member and chair of the U.N. Working Group on Business and Human Rights, appointed by the U.N. Human Rights Council. Ramasastry previously was a Commissioner on the Liechtenstein Initiative for a Financial Sector Commission on Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking, which produced a blueprint for Finance Against Slavery and Trafficking (FAST Initiative). She also chaired a drafting committee of the U.S. Uniform Law Commission which prepared a new state law on prevention of and remedies for human trafficking.

Ramasastry's expertise in effectively engaging governments, international organizations, business, civil society organizations and NGOs will help the commission to provide high level political leadership and respond to the challenge of getting the world "back on track" in eradicating modern slavery by 2030.

“Global challenges relating to climate change, migration, armed conflict and beyond further exacerbate the problem of modern slavery and forced labor. The Commission aims to highlight these linkages and to press for reforms that look at the drivers of modern slavery,” noted Ramasastry.

Lady May, the Chair of the Commission, said she believes that modern slavery is the greatest human rights issue of our time. “This Commission, and the collaboration it represents, is a crucial step forward to try and coordinate our efforts at a global level while centering the people most proximate to this issue in an attempt to build a cohesive global effort against modern slavery,” she said. “I look forward to being on the commission with an amazing group of individuals to deliver this promise."

The Commission will publish its initial report by spring 2025 and will present the report to U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres.