The Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons was established in October 2001 as a result of the passage of the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000. Enacted two years after the Clinton administration and the 106th Congress launched a government-wide anti-trafficking strategy of prevention, protection and support for victims and prosecution of traffickers, TVPA was devised to supplement applicable laws, including the Thirteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which outlawed slavery and involuntary servitude. The TVPA mandated the President to establish an Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking, and appoint members to it, including the Secretary of State, the Attorney General, the Secretary of Labor, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, and other officials of his choice.
President Obama turned to a career prosecutor with many years of experience in fighting human trafficking when he nominated Luis C de Baca to be the next Director of the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons at the Department of State. Confirmed May 6, 2009, de Baca holds the rank of Ambassador-at-Large and Senior Advisor to the Secretary of State. The Trafficking Office is statutorily mandated to coordinate U.S. government activities in the global fight against contemporary forms of slavery, including forced labor in factories, fields, homes and sweatshops, and the trafficking of women and children for sexual exploitation. Worldwide, there are estimated to be as many as 27 million persons living in slavery today.
Mark P. Lagon served as director of the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons for 20 months until January 26, 2009. He received a B.A. magna cum laude from Harvard in 1986 and a PhD in 1991 from Georgetown University, both in Political Science. Before working on Capitol Hill, Dr. Lagon was the principal aide to the Director of Foreign Policy Studies at the American Enterprise Institute, Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick, and was also an adjunct professor at the Institute of World Politics and Georgetown University. In 1995 he became a Senior Analyst for the House Republican Policy Committee, chaired by Rep. Chris Cox, and in 1997 he began serving as the committee’s Deputy Staff Director. From 1998 to 1999 he was Council on Foreign Relations International Affairs Fellow at the Project for the neo-conservative New American Century, specializing in China, and from 1999 to 2002 he was a senior member of the Republican staff at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Lagon was an aggressive supporter of the invasion of Iraq. He served on the Secretary of State’s Policy Planning Staff, and from 2004 until the end of May 2007 he was Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs. He began working in his current positions on May 31, 2007. Lagon is the author of The Reagan Doctrine: Sources of American Conduct in the Cold War’s Last Chapter, and he was associate editor of the journal, Perspectives on Political Science. Lagon was a regular contributor to John McCain’s campaigns and also gave to the Bush-Cheney ticket.
After leaving the federal government, Lagon became the executive director and CEO of the Polaris Project, an anti-trafficking organization.