What is International Justice Mission?

Mary McMahon

International Justice Mission (IJM) is an Christian organization which works in developing nations to address social justice issues. Although the organization is Christian in nature, it is not specifically a Christian ministry, and it does not use faith as a litmus test when determining eligibility for its services. Although the organization is primarily focused on helping people who are not being protected or assisted by their governments and legal systems, it is also designed to inspire Christians, especially evangelical Christians, and to provide an example of the sort of work which can be done by the Christian community.

The International Justice Mission focuses on caring for victims of human trafficking.
The International Justice Mission focuses on caring for victims of human trafficking.

IJM was founded in 1997 by Gary Haugen. The group focuses on caring for victims of violent crimes, sex crimes, human trafficking, land seizure, forced labor, and police brutality. In addition to providing support to victims, International Justice Mission also attempts to hold perpetrators accountable, and it promotes fundamental policy and infrastructure changes with the goal of preventing such crimes in the future. Many of the founding members are lawyers with a great deal of experience, reflecting a solid grounding for the work of IJM.

The IJM also assists people who are victims of violent crimes.
The IJM also assists people who are victims of violent crimes.

As of 2008, International Justice Mission had 14 fieldwork offices in Asia, Africa, and South America. The organization places a heavy emphasis on employing citizens of the nation it works in, providing people with opportunities and also giving victims familiar faces to interact with. International Justice Mission performs investigations, works in the field, lobbies foreign governments, and helps to assemble legal cases. The American headquarters of International Justice Mission are in Washington, D.C., and a number of people work in these offices promoting IJM and coordinating overseas efforts.

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Some of the work of International Justice Mission has been criticized. For example, the organization works in some countries to get women out of brothels, and critics say that some of these women return to brothel work to support their families, because it is the only form of employment they are familiar with. While these criticisms are valid, it is difficult to make positive change in a society without changing the fundamental infrastructure and social policies, so one could point out that while International Justice Mission doesn't always manage to “save” everyone, it does contribute to important incremental changes over time.

Charity rating organizations generally give International Justice Mission good ratings, emphasizing the fact that much of the organization's funds are used for actual operating costs. The organization's operations are also very transparent, and it has a commitment to protecting its donors as well as its beneficiaries.

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