Forced labor, child labor and human trafficking
Forced labor, child labor and human trafficking is – as all types of illicit trades – a lucrative form of organized crime and a high-profit, low-risk activity. This human rights abuse represents a failure of nation states and the global community to ensure the security of their citizens. The International Labour Organization estimates that 20.9 million people are victims of forced labor globally and that trafficked forced laborers produce a total illicit proﬁt of US$150 billion per year (ILO, 2014). A 2019 report by ILO/OECD/IOM/UNICEF attempts to measure the total number of people in forced/child/trafficked labor in global supply chains, and provides a set of recommendations for governments and business.
Forced labor, child labor and human trafficking is an issue in a wide range of sectors that are vulnerable to illicit trade, including but not limited to fisheries, agriculture, manufacturing and mining. In terms of forced labor in the private economy, ILO and WFF found that 24 percent were domestic workers, 18 percent worked in construction, 15 percent in manufacturing, 11 percent in agriculture, forestry and fishing, 10 percent in accommodation and food services, 9 percent in wholesale and trade, 7 percent in personal services, 4 percent in mining and quarrying, and 1 percent in begging. The U.S. Department of Labor has identified 139 goods from 75 countries produced by forced and child labor, including everything from diamonds and cotton to garments and electronics.
Consumers are increasingly aware and interested in the conditions under which the goods that they buy are made. It is therefore in companies’ interest to ensure that workers are paid fair wages and that supply chains are free from forced or trafficked labor. Failing to do so can potentially lead to severe reputational damage, lost contracts and market share, as well as costs associated with criminal and civil liability. Conversely, promoting human rights and fair conditions can increase consumer trust, build brand loyalty and generate goodwill. Furthermore, it is in the interests of companies that are abiding by labor laws to advocate and push an anti-human trafficking agenda in the interest of a level playing field free from those companies that make their illegal profits from unpaid wages.
TRACIT is a member of the ILO Global Business Network Forced Labour (GBNFL), an umbrella network of networks offering a forum for collaboration convened by the International Labour Organization (ILO) where business and business networks come together behind a common objective of leveraging comparative advantages and collective action towards the elimination of forced labour and human trafficking. More information can be found at flbusiness.network