April 16, 2018, by Charlotte Anscombe

Slavery expert shortlisted for national award

Professor Kevin Bales CMG has been shortlisted for a national impact award for his international work in tackling modern slavery.

Professor Bales, from the School of Politics and International Relations and the Rights Lab at the University of Nottingham, has been shortlisted for the 2018 Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Celebrating Impact Prize.

The awards are an annual opportunity to recognise and reward the successes of ESRC-funded researchers who have achieved outstanding economic or societal impact.

The shortlisting is for Professor Bales’ work on measuring modern slavery.

Professor Bales has refined and tested a new technique for measuring numbers of slaves.  By using a technique known as the Multiple Systems Estimate (MSE), Professor Bales has been able to calculate a reliable estimate of the true number of slaves in a specific location. The technique was first applied to slavery by Professor Bales and Professor Sir Bernard Silverman (Professor of Modern Slavery Statistics with the Rights Lab and the School of Politics and International Relations) in 2014 with the Home Office to estimate the number of 10,000-13,000 slaves in the UK.

The method has now been adopted by governments, major NGOs and UN bodies.

Professor Bales’ work helped to deliver 2017 Global Slavery Estimate, launched at the UN General Assembly last year. The figure of 40.3 million slaves has given the world a baseline against which to measure progress towards achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal of ending slavery by 2030.

Professor Bales said on his shortlisting: “I’m overwhelmed to be shortlisted for this award. It raises yet more awareness of the work that we are doing in the Rights Lab to combat modern slavery.

“The new estimate of modern slavery will better inform antislavery parties of the true nature of the crime. We can’t tackle something if we don’t understand the prevalence of it.”

The award is by no means the first recognition for Professor Bales. He was awarded a CMG by the Queen in the New Year Honours in 2017 for his ‘services to the antislavery movement’; he was also awarded the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for  ‘research applied in combating modern forms of slavery’ in 2015.

Other awards include: the Grawemeyer Award for Ideas Promoting World Order (2011); the citation of his research as one of “100 discoveries and developments in UK universities that have changed the world over the past 50 years” by Universities UK (2006); the Laura Smith Davenport Human Rights Award (2005), the Judith Sargent Murray Award for Human Rights (2004); and the Premio Internazionale Viareggio Versilia Prize for the promotion of social justice and peace (2000).

Professor Zoe Trodd, Director of the Rights Lab at the University of Nottingham, said: “Throughout all his work on modern slavery over the past 20 years, Professor Bales has been tireless and selfless, demonstrating courage, vision and determination. He has changed how we understand the issue of modern slavery, and transformed that new understanding into work on the ground that has helped to bring new lives to many people.

“He has also inspired a generation of young people, motivated the public to take part, and demonstrated that research-driven action can change lives for the better.”

More information can be found on the ESRC website.

The winners of the prize will be announced at a ceremony at the Royal Society on Wednesday 20 June.

Posted in Social SciencesThe Rights Lab