Forced Labour and Trafficking: the Role of Labour Institutions in Law Enforcement and International Cooperation in China

The project aims to enhance the capacity of the Government of China to improve the law enforcement in human trafficking cycle, building on the data-gathering, victim identification, law and policy, and operational activities that the ILO has been carrying out in recent years.


The Government of China has entered into an important dialogue with the ILO over forced labor and trafficking issues. Under the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principals and Rights at Work, the Government of China has identified, as a difficulty with regard to the elimination of forced labor, “the lack of information and the lack of capacity of responsible government institutions concerning forced labor due to trafficking”. It has also requested ILO assistance with regard to broader forced labor concerns, to prepare the ground for ratification of the ILO’s two Forced Labor Conventions.

With the cooperation of the ILO's Special Action Programme to Combat Forced Labour (SAP-FL), some initiatives have already been taken since 2003: an initial training workshop in Beijing (January 2003); a study tour on forced labor for high-level Chinese officials from different ministries, including the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, the Ministry of Public Security, the Ministry of Justice, the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, and the Legislative Office of the State Council. The aim is to strengthen a network of officials from key Government agencies, who can cooperate in the process of law and policy reform in the areas of forced labor and trafficking of persons.

The SAP-FL China project builds on a number of existing ILO activities, and is being implemented in close coordination with other ILO relevant projects in China. Stakeholders from relevant ministries, workers’ and employers’ organizations, non-governmental and people’s organizations participate actively in the implementation of the project. In the meantime the Project has addressed Chinese trafficking in Europe, as part of a comprehensive effort to identify the forced labor outcomes of trafficking in destination countries. The ILO is already providing policy advice and technical cooperation on these issues, at the request of the Government of China. And this project will further inform that process. In addition to training seminars on the subject, it has facilitated a network of senior Government officials from different Government agencies and the legislature, to prepare the ground for key law and policy reforms.

The Project enables the Ministries of Public Security, Justice and Labor and Social Security (as well as National People’s Congress and the Legislative Office of the State Council) to consolidate their experience at a key time of law and policy reform in China; the project will provide awareness raising and capacity building for labour and other law enforcement officials, at national as well as provincial levels. As part of its promotional activities to eradicate forced labor and trafficking within the country, the Government of China has specifically requested the ILO to provide capacity building for responsible Government institutions, as well as training of other law enforcement officials. The focus of such training and awareness raising activities will be in Fujian, Zhejiang and Jilin Provinces.

Goal, outcome and output

The SAP-FL China Project aims to enhance the capacity of the Government of China to address the law enforcement aspects of the trafficking cycle, building on the data-gathering, victim identification, law and policy, and operational activities that different ILO units have been carrying out in recent years.

  • Strengthening the law and policy framework on forced labor and trafficking;
  • Involve Chinese employers and workers organizations in identification of cases of forced labor and trafficking; and
  • Reach out to trafficked victims in selected destination countries and potential victims inside China.

Activities and achievements

With activities conducted, the SAP-FL China Project has made the following achievements in Fujian, Zhejiang and Jilin Provinces:

  • Law enforcement officials in three pilot provinces had been trained in measures against forced labour and trafficking for labour exploitation;
  • Concrete measures had been proposed/taken to identify victims of human trafficking, and remedial action sought;
  • A study tour and follow-up workshop has taken place, contributing to the adoption of policies against forced labour and trafficking for labour exploitation;
  • An overview publication was produced, on the recruitment and employment conditions of Chinese trafficked persons in at least three destination countries including a booklet (or/and video) targeted to potential victims of trafficking inside China;
  • Awareness and understanding of modern forced labour was raised among the public and governmental units;
  • Governments received continuous assistance from the Project to have developed and implemented new laws, policies and action plans;
  • Guidance and training materials on key aspects of forced labour and trafficking have been developed and disseminated;
  • Programmes combining policy development, capacity building of law enforcement and labour market institutions have been implemented to target and provide direct support for both prevention of forced labour and identification and rehabilitation of its victim; and
  • Necessary technical assistance was provided to Chinese government for eventual ratification of the ILO’s Forced Labour Conventions. Through the review of provincial regulations on forced labour and trafficking by national legislators, the project has been promoting greater consistency in legislation in accordance with internationally determined principles. The project has also been conducting awareness raising and victim identification training seminars at local level covering three “high risk” provinces of Zhejiang, Fujian and Jilin.

For further information please contact:

Ms Gao Yun
Project Manager
Special Action Program against Forced Labour (SAP-FL)
Tel: +41 22 7997816
Fax: +41 22 7996561