Mark P. Lagon to Become President of Freedom House | Freedom House

Mark P. Lagon to Become President of Freedom House


Mark P. Lagon, a distinguished scholar of global politics and human rights, and former diplomat, will become president of Freedom House on January 2, 2015, the organization’s Board of Trustees announced today.

Lagon is Chair for Global Politics and Security at Georgetown University’s Master of Science in Foreign Service Program, and a former U.S. Ambassador at Large and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State. He will succeed David J. Kramer, who has served as president of Freedom House since 2010.

“Mark Lagon has broad and deep experience in the field of democracy and human rights, and brings great passion to these issues,” said Kenneth I. Juster, chairman of the Board. “His appointment reinforces Freedom House’s commitment to address threats to freedom, wherever they may exist, through its unique combination of research, advocacy, and programs.”

At the State Department, Lagon served as U.S. Ambassador at Large, directing the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, from 2007 to 2009, and previously as Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of International Organization Affairs, with responsibility for human rights, humanitarian issues and United Nations reform. He is Adjunct Senior Fellow for Human Rights at the Council on Foreign Relations.

“The promise of freedom and the challenges it faces are central to our time,” Lagon said. “It will be a privilege to lead Freedom House, which sets the standard for analysis of political and civil rights, provides a clear voice for freedom around the world, and empowers frontline activists to uphold fundamental rights and advance democratic change.”

Lagon received a Ph.D. in Government from Georgetown and an A.B. from Harvard University. He is the author of numerous articles on international affairs and co-editor of the recently released book Human Dignity and the Future of Global Institutions.

“The Board and staff are extremely grateful to David Kramer for his outstanding leadership,” said Juster, the board chairman. “No one could have been a more forceful or articulate advocate for our cause, for which we owe David sincere thanks.”

Q&A with Mark P. Lagon, Appointed President of Freedom House

Mark P. Lagon, a former U.S, Ambassador at Large to combat human trafficking and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State and now Chair for Global Politics and Security at Georgetown University’s Masters in Foreign Service Program, will become president of Freedom House in January 2015, succeeding David J. Kramer. Lagon here responds to questions about Freedom House’s work.

Q: Why does the work of Freedom House matter?

As a human rights coalition-builder, a former State Department official, and longtime student of international politics, I consider Freedom House’s mission to be central to upholding universal values. Freedom is the great enabler – it gives people voice, it allows economic prosperity, it allows people to live up to their potential. It’s an honor to join an institution devoted to documenting and speaking frankly about freedom, democracy and human rights, and the ways nations can deepen them.

Q: How would you evaluate the quality of Freedom House’s research, which is well known through Freedom in the World, Freedom of the Press, Freedom on the Net, and other reports?

The research reports published by Freedom House are state of the art. They’re objective, sophisticated and subtle, in the sense that they look at changes in freedoms through a particularly powerful lens. They are the benchmarks for a large number of institutions around the world, including the Millennium Challenge Corporation. Freedom House’s assessments of political liberties, civil liberties, Internet freedom and more are yardsticks for determining whether the world is making progress in meeting the basic aspirations of all humankind.

Q. What are the most important lessons you are bringing from earlier parts of your career?

One is that the United States needs to speak truth to power. It does no one a favor by not speaking clearly when it deals with autocratic governments repressing the voices of their citizens. The United States needs at the same time to be an exemplar in the way it behaves, living the values that all people long for.

As the former ambassador responsible for combating human trafficking, I could see the way that global advocacy, programmatic work and well-researched reports that give grades to other countries go hand-in-hand. I’m privileged now to take on an even larger version of that combination of missions.

I want to emphasize leveraging Freedom House’s reports as a unique part of the organization’s work. I am also particularly interested in programs focusing on gender equality. I hope that we continue our focus on political and civil liberties, in part by also reminding people that economic prosperity benefits and flows these liberties.

For more information, contact Robert Ruby at [email protected].

Founded in 1941, Freedom House is a nonpartisan, nonprofit, independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.

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.

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