Panel discussion on Partnerships to End Forced Labour in Supply Chains

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  • Promote means of eradicating human trafficking, child labour, forced labour, and modern slavery from supply chains;
  • Build support for the formation of Alliance 8.7 (referring to target 8.7 of the UN’s sustainable development goals) which brings together all stakeholders – governments, companies, workers organizations and civil society organizations - working towards the elimination of forced labour, modern slavery, human trafficking and child labour;
  • Promote The Dignity Partnership which seeks to broaden constituencies – from governments and companies to consumers – to join their efforts in combatting human trafficking;
  • Build support for the creation of the ILO Business Network on Forced Labour and recognize Member States, UN agencies, and companies that are leading the fight against forced labour in global supply chains;

Programme and participants

10h00 - Welcome and introduction
10h05 - Keynote address by H.E. Mr. Carlos Foradori – Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Argentina;
10h10 - Opening statements
  • H.E. Ms. Sarah Mendelson – Ambassador - ECOSOC, U.S. Mission to the UN;
  • Mr. Guy Ryder – Director-General, International Labour Organization (ILO);
10h25 - Moderated discussion on Understanding the complexities and vulnerabilities of global supply chains
Moderator: John Morrison – Executive Director, Institute for Human Rights and Business
  • Ms. Alette van Leur – Director, Sectoral Activities, ILO
  • Mr. Eric R. Biel – Associate Deputy Undersecretary, Bureau of International Labor Affairs, U.S. Department of Labor
  • Ms. Kate Kennedy – Managing Director, North America, The Freedom Fund
  • Mr. Julius Cainglet – Vice President, The Federation of Free Workers, Philippines
  • Ms. Alison J. Taylor – Director, Advisory Services, BSR
11h30 - Moderated discussion on Experiences and good practices in combatting forced labour, modern slavery and human trafficking in global supply chains
Moderator: Matthew Bishop – Globalization Editor, The Economist
  • Mr. Bob Mitchell – Vice Chair, Board of Directors, Electronics Industry Citizenship Coalition (EICC) and Director, Global Social & Environmental Responsibility, Hewlett Packard Enterprise
  • Mr. Didier Bergeret – Director, Global Social Compliance Programme, The Consumer Goods Forum
  • Ms. Cara Chacon – Director, Social & Environmental Responsibility, Patagonia
  • Ms. Dina Khayyat – Chair, Jordan Garments, Accessories, & Textiles Exporters' Association (JGATE)
  • Mr. Chanintr Chalisarapong – President, Thai Tuna Industry Association
12h35 - Open floor for a general discussion

12h55- Closing remarks by Guy Ryder – Director-General, International Labour Organization (ILO)

Topic's overview

Global supply chains have profoundly transformed the nature of cross-border production, investment, trade and employment – both positively and negatively. The global economy has supported economic growth and foreign exchange has allowed for the free flow of goods and services from all corners of the world. Without travel, trade, and migration, much of the progress of the last century – social and economic development – would not be possible.

In some instances, global supply chains have connected to domestic markets with preexisting deficits in working conditions located in jurisdictions characterized by weak legislation and enforcement. Connection to global supply chains has made these deficits more visible to wider audiences, and in certain contexts may have exacerbated some of these existing problems.

In some supply chains, intense competition among potential suppliers can create downward pressure on production costs and wages, which may negatively impact on working and living conditions.

Additionally, benefits in connecting to global supply chains – such as technology transfers, access to newer production processes, financing and markets – they do not always extend evenly to low-skilled workers, particularly those in the informal sector.

The combination of these factors, particularly in unregulated and informal labour markets - that are often characterized by lack of adequate wage or human rights protections for workers - creates opportunities for forced labour, child labour and human trafficking to occur.

Overall, around the globe there are increasing numbers of suppliers in emerging markets contracted to produce for global companies - but the governments of countries where these suppliers are located often lack the institutional capacity, and knowledge on fair labour practices, to regulate and enforce labour standards and identify instances of human trafficking.

To close this governance gap, there is a need to:
  • reinforce existing regulatory frameworks on labour practices both at the international and national level
  • promote social dialogue among relevant stakeholders involved with these global supply chains such as multinational companies, suppliers and workers organizations
  • enhance capacities of lower tier suppliers and strengthen partnerships

There has been a significant intensification of global action against forced labour and human trafficking. International legal instruments, such as the ILO Convention on forced labour (No. 29), its’ 2014 Protocol and Recommendation, and Convention No. 105, as well as the Palermo Protocol, have served as legal foundations to combat forced labour and human trafficking.

At the national level, the United Kingdom has recently passed the Modern Slavery Act 2015 which seeks to ensure transparency and accountability around the business activities of large organizations.

In the United States, the Department of State’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons was established in accordance with the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) of 2000 which updated slavery statutes furthering the guarantees of freedom from human trafficking and involuntary servitude. With the adoption of the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development, Member States renewed their commitments to end forced labour, child labour, modern slavery and human trafficking, specifically under targets 5.2, 8.7 and 16.2.

Member States also recognized that these targets, along with others across all 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), could not be achieved alone and prioritizes the role of global partnerships with the inclusion of multi-stakeholder actors, not just donor governments.

This dynamic, interactive discussion will bring together government officials, senior policy-makers, businesses, trade unions and key stakeholders to discuss the range of strategies, challenges and lessons learned in international efforts to eliminate forced labour, child labour, modern slavery and human trafficking from global supply chains.

The panel will also explore the necessity of additional actions from governments and the international system to facilitate this goal. This event will contribute insights into the formation of Alliance 8.7 (referring to target 8.7 of the UN’s SDGs) which brings together all stakeholders for knowledge sharing, joint activities to focus efforts in achieving this goal.

Furthermore, it will also highlight and help open up areas of discussion for The Dignity Partnership in the formulation of its founding declaration.

International and national instruments to combat these unacceptable forms of abuse and exploitations and the best practices of private companies will be explored in greater detail.