Kathi Lynn Austin, Executive Director

“Kathi Austin, a UN arms-trafficking expert… has spent much of the past decade tracking illegal weapons smugglers operating in the DRC and other conflict zones across Africa. Partly as a result of her dogged efforts, the alleged leader of one of the world’s largest trafficking networks, Viktor Bout, was recently arrested on terrorism charges in Thailand.”

- Ban Ki Moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations

"The Real UN,” The New York Times, 2010

Kathi Lynn Austin is an internationally recognized expert on arms trafficking, peace and security, and human rights. She is founder and Executive Director of the Conflict Awareness Project, an international nonprofit that investigates, exposes, and brings to justice major arms traffickers, war profiteering networks, and transnational criminal operations that fuel war and conflict around the world.­ Ms. Austin is also a research fellow with the Human Rights Center at University of California Berkeley and a member of the Pacific Council on International Policy, the Global Initiative Against Transnational Crime, the Forum on the Arms Trade, and the Explorers Club. ­


For nearly 30 years, Ms. Austin has carried out original, precedent-setting and in-depth field investigations into the illegal trade in weapons, illicit trafficking operations, illegal resource exploitation, transnational crime and terrorism. She has documented conflicts spanning Africa, Latin America, East and Central Europe, and South Asia. Her work has been featured and she has been a guest expert on major media worldwide, including the New York Times, the Washington Post, CNN, Al Jazeera, NPR, PRI and the BBC. In 2011, she was named the Arms Control Association’s “Person of the Year.”


Ms. Austin served with the United Nations Group of Experts on the DRC and Liberia as well as Chief of the Joint Mission Analysis Centre for the United Nations Peacekeeping Missions in Timor-Leste and Burundi.


As a lead investigator, advisor and senior consultant, Ms. Austin has not only served with the United Nations but a broad array of multi-lateral institutions and non-governmental organizations, including the World Bank, Human Rights Watch, the International Crisis Group, the Fund for Peace, and the Open Society Justice Initiative, where she served as Senior Advisor for the Anti-Corruption Program. 


An influential and accomplished public speaker, writer and filmmaker, she has presented at major fora and conferences around the world, and has contributed articles and op-eds in an array of top international publications and news media. Her award-winning documentaries include Follow The Guns (2018); Killing Tradition: The Arming of Africa (2002); Forsaken Cries: The Story of Rwanda (1997); and Africa: Environmental Degradation, Human Deprivation (1994). In 2012, she starred in A Short Film About Guns (winner, 2013 Tribeca Film Festival).


Board of Directors