Directions for national and international data collection on Forced Labour

This paper provides some ideas and directions as to how the existing gaps in our understanding of the quantitative dimensions of forced labour could be reduced.

Despite a global estimate, there remain very significant gaps in our understanding of the quantitative dimensions of forced labour. The 2005 ILO Global Report indicated that “available national estimates are often disparate, concerning one or two particular forms of forced labour, generally calculated on the basis of secondary information” and made clear that its own global estimate “must be seen as part of an ongoing process of generating more and better information”.

The paper discusses three areas in which future work is most urgently needed. The first is the improvement of country-level data collection on identified cases of forced labour and human trafficking. Such administrative databases would allow for a better follow-up of all reported cases, including for law enforcement and assistance programmes to the victims. They would also provide much qualitative information to be used as a preliminary step to design quantitative methods. The second is the need to develop better national estimates of forced labour through surveys or other statistical methods. This would provide information for more efficient policy making and also create benchmarks by reference to which progress can be measured over time.
Finally the paper also proposes that the ILO should continue to maintain its global database and develop a number of indicators by which to measure global progress towards the ultimate objective of eradicating modern forced labour.