Forced labour

From Protocol to Practice: A Bridge to Global Action on Forced Labour (Bridge Project)

This project aims to support global and national efforts aimed at combating forced labour under the 2014 ILO Protocol and Recommendation on Forced Labour.


The ILO estimates that about 21 million men, women, and children are in forced labour – trafficked, held in debt bondage, or working under slave-like conditions. The vast majority of these forced labourers – almost 19 million – are exploited in the private economy, by individuals or enterprises. Another 2.2 million (10 percent) are in state-imposed forms of forced labour, including forced labour imposed by paramilitary forces.

Addressing the issue of forced labour is a growing international concern. In June 2014, governments, employers, and workers at the ILO International Labour Conference overwhelmingly supported the adoption of the new ILO Protocol of 2014 to the Forced Labour Convention, 1930 (henceforth the Protocol) and a Recommendation on supplementary measures for addressing forced labour (henceforth the Recommendation). If widely ratified and implemented by ILO member countries, the Protocol and Recommendation promise to act as a catalyst for achieving the vision of a world without forced labour.

Project objectives

The project aims to effectively eliminate traditional and state-imposed forced labour systems and to significantly reduce contemporary forms of forced labour, which are often linked to human trafficking. This will be done through:
  1. Increased knowledge, awareness, and implementation of the 2014 ILO Protocol and Recommendation;
  2. Improved evidence-based and responsive national policies and action plans on forced labour with strong implementation, monitoring, and enforcement mechanisms;
  3. Enhanced efforts to collect reliable national statistics in order to carry out research and share knowledge across institutions at national, regional, and global levels;
  4. Strengthened workers’ and employers’ organizations to support the fight against forced labour in partnership with other interested parties; and
  5. Strengthened awareness and livelihoods programs to prevent forced labour and to provide victims with access to remedies.

Summary of activities

Awareness-raising on forced labour
  • Support the “50forFreedom” campaign which aims to achieve at least 50 country ratifications of the Protocol by 2018. This includes the development of a Web platform, awareness-raising materials on the Protocol and Recommendation, and establishment of partnerships with media groups to increase public awareness of forced labour.
Capacity building
  • Develop a guidance tool for countries to implement and monitor national plans of action on forced labour, and work with national commissions on forced labour and human trafficking to develop, implement and monitor such national action plans, specifically taking into account gender and age dimensions of forced labour.
  • Develop materials and train labour inspectors, and other law enforcement officials on forced labour.
  • Support the working group of the International Conference of Labour Statisticians to establish guidelines on statistical indicators and survey methods, and conduct statistical surveys in at least two priority countries on the prevalence of forced labour affecting adults and children to inform policy design at national levels.
  • Work with employers’ organizations, business, and other stakeholders, including organizing a global supply chain summit.
Victim remedies
  • In the project priority countries of Mauritania, Nepal, and Peru, design, implement, and monitor community-based prevention and rehabilitation programmes, and develop and train a network of lawyers and judicial officials to support strategic litigation of individual forced labour cases.