World Day against Trafficking in Persons

Guy Ryder: "Trafficking in human beings is not a thing of the past"

Statement | 30 July 2014
The first annual World Day against Trafficking in Persons, reminds us of the shameful fact that trafficking in human beings is not a thing of the past.

According to the ILO’s most recent estimates, US$150 billion in illegal profits are annually made on the back of 21 million men, women and children that are coerced into various forms of forced labour. The vast majority (90 per cent) are exploited by private individuals or businesses which operate outside the rule of law; the remaining 10 per cent is exacted by State authorities.

In June 2014, at the ILO’s 103rd International Labour Conference, its tripartite constituency – government, employer and worker representatives from its 185 member States – responded to the urgent need for action and adopted a new legally binding Protocol, supplemented by a Recommendation in order to strengthen the global efforts to eliminate forced labour and human trafficking.

The new Protocol brings the existing ILO Convention 29 on Forced Labour, adopted in 1930, into the modern era by addressing practices such as human trafficking and by creating new obligations on protection, prevention and remedies, including compensation. The accompanying Recommendation provides technical guidance on its implementation. The new Protocol reaffirms the obligation to punish perpetrators of forced labour and to end the impunity that is still pervasive in so many countries.

The Protocol and Recommendation also underline the mutually reinforcing nature of all fundamental labour rights, including the importance of freedom of association. Workers who are free to organize are better able to be active agents in the fight against trafficking.

On this important day, we make a strong appeal to member States to take the next step and rapidly ratify the new Protocol. We invite all who wish to see the end of human trafficking to press for ratification and to contribute to effective implementation.

Our collective commitment is only as good as our action – let us hope that in the years to come we will be able on this day to celebrate progress and ultimately success in making trafficking in persons a thing of the past.