UN Migration Agency Co-hosts Private Sector Workshop to Eliminate Modern Slavery and Trafficking in Companies, Supply Chains

Capacity Building, Counter-Trafficking

Hong Kong – IOM, the UN Migration Agency, in partnership with Liberty Asia, international law firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, and the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI), have hosted a workshop in Hong Kong to help private sector companies to meet internationally recognized human rights principles, particularly relating to labour rights, modern day slavery and human trafficking.

The issue of modern day slavery remains a major challenge around the world with an estimated 40.3 million victims in 2016. Of these, approximately 25 million were victims of forced labour, notably in the Asia-Pacific region. Over 60 per cent or 16 million victims of forced labour were working for private sector companies.

“Globalization means that many leading international companies now outsource their supply chains overseas to reduce costs. This can put them at risk of associating themselves with severe exploitation of workers in their global supply chains. This workshop was about sharing information and experiences. It brought companies together to explore their potential to act as powerful drivers of sustainable change towards a business model for the eradication of modern slavery and trafficking in global supply chain,” said IOM China Head of Office Pär Liljert.

“We are living in a time that is seeing the very rapid growth of transparency frameworks and due diligence regimes that are mindful of third party rights and the impact of the actions of corporations on workers, communities and consumers. This forward-looking session was about positive engagement and solutions to the increasingly complex supply chain issues we are facing today,” said Liberty Asia Head of Legal Archana Kotecha.

Representatives from over 30 major companies including Adidas, BOC International Holdings, Hang Seng Bank, MGM, The Body Shop International, Debenhams, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Deutsche Bank participated in the workshop to discuss the international principles related to labour rights, contemporary legal frameworks and practical solutions to eliminate modern slavery and trafficking in the business sector. 

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, which provided the venue for the workshop, has a longstanding track record of working to promote responsible business principles and practices through its Business and Society workstreams.

With the adoption of a Private Sector Partnership Strategy 2016-2020, IOM recognized the significant role of the business community to positively impact and further the benefits of migration. IOM’s CREST (Corporate Responsibility to Eliminating Slavery and Trafficking) initiative builds on this premise and is specifically designed to help companies maximize the benefits of migrant labour in their operations and supply chains. Through improved access to ethical recruitment and fair employment practices, IOM’s initiative ultimately aims to improve the protection of migrant workers’ human and labour rights in the Asia-Pacific region.

For more information please contact Nurul Qoiriah at IOM China’s Hong Kong sub-office, Tel: 2332 2441, Email: nqoiriah@iom.int

  • IOM co-hosted private sector workshop on tackling modern slavery and trafficking in companies and supply chains.

  • IOM co-hosted private sector workshop on tackling modern slavery and trafficking in companies and supply chains.