BackgroundAccording to ILO’s most recent estimate, at least 20.9 million people are victims of forced labour globally. In terms of regional distribution, the Asia-Pacific region accounts for the highest absolute number of forced labourers – 11.7 million or 56 per cent of the global total. Among the eight ILO member States that have not ratified ILO Forced Labour Convention No. 29, seven are in Asia and the Pacific. And the 11 countries that are yet to ratify the Abolition of Forced Labour Convention No. 105 are all in Asia and the Pacific. These challenges highlight the importance of strengthening efforts to combat forced labour in the region. The elimination of all forms of forced labour is one of four fundamental principles and rights at work covered by the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, 1998, which all Members undertake “to respect, to promote and to realize, in good faith”.
In East and South-East Asia, ILO has documented forced labour and human trafficking in a variety of economic sectors, including fishing and fish processing, domestic work, textile manufacturing and agriculture. For example, a recent study commissioned by the ILO on Thai boats fishing in national and international waters found that approximately 16.9 per cent of the 600 fishers surveyed identified themselves as working against their will and unable to leave for threat of penalty. In addition, issues related to state-imposed forced labour, primarily prison labour and forced labour in detention centres remain an area of concern in some countries in the East and South-East Asian sub-region. For example, a study commissioned by the ILO in Mongolia found that prisoners in three surveyed prisons had been hired to private individuals, companies or organizations at minimal or no pay.
Forced Labour Action in the Asian Region (FLARE) project strengthens national institutions and capacities to prevent and address forced labour in East and South-East Asia. The main interventions of the project relate to supporting legal and policy reforms, capacity building and knowledge sharing with country level activities focused on China, Viet Nam and Mongolia. Knowledge sharing activities and development of guidance and training tools for policy makers, enforcement officials, and employers’ and workers’ organizations also benefit other countries in the sub-region. The project addresses both forced labour in the private economy and state-imposed forced labour within the broader framework of promoting fundamental principles and rights at work. Its strategy is built on the notion that greater involvement of strong
labour market institutions, including labour inspectorates, is a prerequisite for upholding rights at the workplace and preventing violations that may lead to forced labour.
ObjectivesThe overall objective of the project is to contribute to the progressive elimination of forced labour and trafficking in Asia. The more immediate objectives are:
- Strengthen law and policy frameworks to prevent and address forced labour and human trafficking.
- Increase knowledge sharing and strengthen the capacity of law enforcement officers to identify and prosecute forced labour and human trafficking cases.
- Work with employers and workers’ organizations to ensure effective action against forced labour in vulnerable sectors and global supply chains.
Main ActivitiesProject activities are designed to build capacity of ILO constituents and other partners in project countries to take effective action against forced labour. The country-level activities in China, Viet Nam and Mongolia include:
- Strengthen national law and policy frameworks to prevent and address forced labour and trafficking through technical support for national legal reforms.
- Promote ratification and implementation of forced labour Conventions No. 29 and No. 105 through workshops and assessments. Activities include technical support to review of laws and policies imposing forced labour on individuals in prisons and detention centres.
- Strengthen national capacity to enforce compliance with laws against forced labour and human trafficking through training and tools development.
- Support employers’ and workers’ organizations in combatting forced labour in vulnerable sectors and global supply chains through studies, consultations and tools development.
The project will develop sub-regional training materials, policy guidance, practical tools and information materials on preventing and eliminating forced labour. Sub-regional activities include:
- The promotion of knowledge sharing through the AP-Forced Labour Net online platform. Activities include online discussions, e-learning, and sharing of resources, experiences and ideas among practitioners.
- The development of guidance, advocacy and training materials to promote a labour approach to preventing and addressing forced labour and human trafficking in East and South-East Asia. The target audience consist of policy makers, labour inspectors and other law enforcement authorities, as well as employers’ and workers’ organizations.
- National legislation and policy frameworks to prevent and address forced labour and human trafficking strengthened.
- Forced labour Conventions No. 29 and No. 105 ratified, or progress made in their implementation.
- Capacity of labour inspectors and other law enforcement officials to enforce compliance with laws against forced labour and human trafficking improved.
- The role of Employers’ and workers’ organizations in combating forced labour in vulnerable sectors and global supply chains enhanced.
- Membership, services and resources available on the AP-Forced Labour Net expanded, and experiences and ideas shared among practitioners in East and South-East Asia.
- Guidance, advocacy and training materials developed to promote a labour approach to preventing and addressing forced labour and human trafficking in East and South-East Asia.