human trafficking

Reaching for a New Approach: A Newcomer NGO Builds a Network to Fight the Modern Slave Trade, 2012-2018

Ann Toews
Focus Area(s)
Country of Reform

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, governments and activist organizations around the world set their sights on ending the business of human trafficking. Many groups emerged to assist victims of the crime, but few made progress toward eliminating the roots of the problem. Duncan Jepson, a lawyer for a Hong Kong–based bank, said he believed too little was being done to spotlight the shadowy criminal networks that typically crossed government jurisdictions and sometimes included otherwise legitimate businesses. Jepson decided that disrupting the trade in human beings required new types of collaboration to unravel criminal networks and confront the organizations that abetted their activities. In 2012, he founded a nongovernmental organization called Liberty Asia, which aimed to bridge institutional gaps and approach human trafficking from an economic perspective by using increasingly robust anti-money-laundering tools that were at the disposal of banks and bank regulators. This case profiles Liberty Asia’s efforts and focuses on the challenges associated with coordinating many different types of organizations to confront a common challenge.

Ann Toews drafted this case study based on interviews conducted in March 2017 and January 2018. Case published March 2018.

Ilir Gjoni

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Focus Area(s)
Ref Batch Number
Critical Tasks
Country of Reform
Tumi Makgetla
Ilir Gjoni
Interviewee's Position
Minister of Defense, Minister of Interior
Nationality of Interviewee
Date of Interview
Reform Profile
In this interview, Ilir Gjoni describes his experience as a member of the Albanian government in the aftermath of extensive internal upheaval in the country. Describing the buildup of civic unrest and the revolts following the 1997 collapse of pyramid schemes, he elaborates on the challenges faced by a government administration seeking reform. Gjoni further outlines the steps taken by Prime Minister Meta upon his succession, praising Meta’s efforts in appointing individuals with differing political affiliations and backgrounds. Gjoni goes on to describe his own exertions as minister of defense, talking of the measures he took to counteract the rampant human, arms and drug trafficking in the country. His efforts included arms reduction initiatives. He also details the steps he took as minister of public order in reducing organized crime, improving personnel appointment and training policies and collaborating with other European nations to address trafficking problems. Recognizing the corrupting nature of power, however, Gjoni describes how power tussles and pressures from different party factions created infighting and tensions within the Meta administration. Gjoni concludes by providing advice to those seeking to institute reform in similar circumstances.

Ilir Gjoni served as chief of staff under Albanian Prime Minister Pandeli Majko, being appointed to the position in 1999. When the administration changed that same year, the new prime minister, Ilir Mehta, reconfirmed Gjoni’s appointment. Prime Minister Meta went on to appoint Gjoni as minister of defense in July 2000. Gjoni also became the minister of public order under Meta’s regime, holding the post until February 2002. A philology major in the Tirana University class of 1985, Gjoni’s involvement in the public sector began when he was recruited by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs upon graduation. Leaving the ministry in 1994, Gjoni pursued a master' degree in diplomacy. He then opted to acquire a second degree in national security studies at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monteray, California. Gjoni also spent some time working as an international news editor at the only independent newspaper in Albania at the time, Koha Jone. After his venture into journalism, Gjoni went on to become a liaison officer for the United Nations High Commission for Refugees office in Tirana, assisting in the management of both the ’98 and ’99 Kosovo refugee crises until his appointment in the Majko administration.  

Full Audio File Size
69 MB
Full Audio Title
Ilir Gjoni Interview