In 2003-4 the Government of the Netherlands provided initial core support for the ILO’s new Special Action Programme to Combat Forced Labour (SAP-FL). The ILO Governing Body had approved this new programme within the DECLARATION in November 2001, as the first time in its history that the ILO had aimed to help Member States tackle forced labour through promotional means including technical cooperation.
In just over two years SAP-FL made considerable impact worldwide, commanding global attention and galvanizing international action in response to a problem of growing concern in all continents. The SAP-FL approach involves five thematic elements designed to improve efforts to combat forced labour and trafficking: better understanding of the problem, including a global estimate of forced labour; heightened global awareness; stronger legal and policy frameworks; stronger institutional structures; and special projects to help workers in forced labour situations. Significant progress has now been made in a wide range of countries. As part of overall awareness-raising in connection with the 2005 report “A Global Alliance against Forced Labour”, a series of thematic and country-specific reports on different aspects of forced labour is now being launched and there has been a steady growth in operational projects. Further activities involving training and capacity-building, in both Asian and European countries, have been supported by multiple donors including Ireland.
The continued core support for SAP-FL enables the program to maintain the professional staff required for its diverse tasks as described above, including technical backstopping of its operational projects. The demand for SAP-FL services, both within and outside the ILO itself, is growing on a regular basis, and forced labour concerns are featuring more squarely on human rights, governance and poverty reduction agendas.