Senator Bob Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, received the Freedom House’s annual Leadership Award along with former Vice President Joe Biden during a ceremony Wednesdaynight in Washington.
Senator Corker was honored for his work to end modern slavery and human trafficking worldwide.
“Today we have 27 million people in the world that live in slavery on a daily basis; now that certainly is living without human rights,” said Senator Corker on Wednesday night as he accepted the award. “We have together led an effort to end modern slavery through the Global Fund to End Modern Slavery, which is pulling together people around the world, but also governments, to work with us in a public-private partnership to end modern slavery. We have so many disparate efforts by so many wonderful people, many of them saints, like so many of the people here in the room that have toiled so hard. And what we need to do is, just like we did with HIV through PEPFAR, we need to have an international effort to end this scourge. I played a small role in this, because I happen to be chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, but there are people in this room who played a much larger role. I thank you so much for honoring their work and the work being done by people around the world by honoring me as just a symbol of what they are doing. Thank you so much.”
“Freedom House was proud to recognize Senator Corker for his dedication to democracy and the United States’ continued engagement in the world,” said Michael J. Abramowitz, president of the organization. “He has authored significant legislation to combat human trafficking, and to promote freedom and basic rights, especially for people most in need of American help.”
In 2015, Senator Corker proposed a bold, bipartisan initiative to end modern slavery worldwide that became law in 2016 and now operates as the Global Fund to End Modern Slavery. GFEMS is designed to leverage limited foreign aid dollars and galvanize tremendous support and investment from the public sector, philanthropic organizations and the private sector to fund projects and organizations around the world working to end modern slavery where it is most prevalent. With support from the Trump administration, the U.S. made a $25 million contribution to the fund in 2017, which was soon after matched by the United Kingdom.
Senator Corker is in his second term as U.S. senator for Tennessee and serves as chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee. He is also an active member of the Banking Committee and the Budget Committee. Senator Corker was Tennessee’s commissioner of finance and mayor of Chattanooga before being elected to the Senate in 2006, but he spent most of his life in business. It’s that results-driven businessman’s perspective that allowed him to make a mark early in his Senate tenure and become a pragmatic thought leader on fiscal, financial, and foreign relations issues. Once elected chairman, Senator Corker quickly began to build on the committee’s emerging reputation for developing bipartisan consensus on major issues and reasserting the committee’s traditional role in foreign policy. He used his position to elevate the plight of the more than 27 million people throughout the world suffering in forced labor and sexual servitude.
Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.