Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Semester of Degree Completion


Thesis Director

Ryan C. Hendrickson


Human trafficking poses a threat to national security and undermines global order. Trafficking exploits sovereign borders and undermines state legitimacy by highlighting failures of governance. This thesis seeks to understand policy responses to human trafficking, which are essential to providing resilient national security while upholding human rights.

I conducted a mixed methods analysis to examine three levels of government response to trafficking: domestic, regional/international, and foreign domestic measures. I examined how the United States Senate develops anti-trafficking legislation, how human rights regimes are developing within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), and how specific Southeast Asian nations have responded to the Department of State's annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report.

I examined the 112th and 113th Congresses and find that both conservative and liberal Senators support trafficking legislation, but with discernable differences in emphasis. I applied Oran Young's framework for studying international regimes to examine ASEAN responses to human rights issues. I find surprisingly little hegemonic influence from either Indonesia or the United States, which correlates to China's concurrent hegemony in the South China Sea. I find that Trafficking in Persons TIP Tier ratings correlate with corruption, as well as the robustness of state human rights regimes, with several surprising caveats. Finally, findings indicate that democratic governance and growth in defense spending as a percentage of GDP are predictors of TIP Tier ratings.