Human Rights

John Cotton Richmond is a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Strategy Initiative of the Atlantic Council’s Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security. He is also an attorney and diplomat focused on ethical business, human rights, democracy, and rule of law. Richmond currently leads the Libertas Council, which works to galvanize global leaders to shape solutions that affirm human dignity by combating human trafficking. He also serves as the chief impact officer at Atlas Free, working to resource and accelerate organizations fighting human trafficking.

Previously, after the US Senate unanimously confirmed Richmond, he served as the US ambassador to monitor and combat trafficking in persons from 2018 to 2021. Serving in the nation’s highest-ranking position dedicated to human trafficking, he led US foreign policy related to modern slavery and coordinated the US government’s response to the crime. Richmond also served for over a decade as a federal prosecutor with the US Department of Justice’s Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit, where he prosecuted numerous victim-centered labor and sex trafficking cases. He also lived in India for three years pioneering International Justice Mission’s slavery work.

Richmond has received numerous honors and commendations, and was specifically named a “Prosecutor of the Year” and received the “Wilberforce Award for Exceptional Leadership in the Fight Against Human Trafficking” and the “David Alred Award for exceptional contributions to civil rights.” His work caused the former head of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s human trafficking program to call him “every trafficker’s worst nightmare.”

Richmond received his undergraduate degree from the University of Mary Washington and his law degree from Wake Forest University. Richmond is a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, senior advisor to Love Does, and frequent speaker on topics of faith, justice, and vocation. He lives in Virginia with his talented wife and they have three wonderful children.