Modern slavery and transparency standards

​International agreements, standards and conventions on modern slavery

UN Convention

UN Declaration of Human Rights - Article 4

“No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.”

International Labour Organization Conventions 

ILO Forced Labour Convention, 1930 (No. 29) - Article 1

Provides a definition of forced labour as “any work or service exacted under menace of any penalty to which a person has not offered himself voluntarily” 

Abolition of Forced Labour Convention, 1957 (No. 105) - Article 1

Signatory states commit to suppress and not to make use of any form of forced or compulsory labour. 

ILO Protocol of 2014 to the Forced Labour Convention, 1930 - Article 1

Signatory states commit to measures to prevent and eliminate its use, to provide victims with protection and access to appropriate and effective remedies, such as compensation, and to sanction the perpetrators of forced or compulsory labour.

“Palermo Protocol” – Protocol to Prevent, Supress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Girls, 2000

Provides the first internationally recognised definition of human trafficking – and defines it as serious of acts (committed by a number of means for certain purpose).

European law

European Convention on Human Rights, 1950

Article 4 prohibits slavery and forced labour

EU Trafficking Directive, 2011

Requires EU member states to introduce laws prohibiting trafficking and protecting victims. Article 5 provides for liability of legal persons, including for lack of supervision.  

EU on Non-financial and diversity information disclosure, 2014

Large companies with 500 or more employees are required to include non-financial information in their management reports, including on respect for human rights.

UK law

Human Rights Act, 1998

Prohibits all forms of slavery and forced labour

UK Modern Slavery Act, 2015

Defines criminal offences of human trafficking, slavery, forced labour and servitude and provides for sentences of up to life imprisonment. It further sets out victim protection provisions and creates a role of UK Anti-Slavery Commissioner.

Article 54, Transparency in Supply Chains provision creates the obligation on businesses that operate in the UK and have a certain annual turnover (£36 set in statutory guidance) to produce annually modern slavery statement and disclose what steps the business is undertaking to prevent and address this issue in their supply chains.

Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Scotland) Act 2015

Creates criminal offences of human trafficking slavery, forced labour and servitude and victim protection measures in Scotland.

Article 39, Offences by Bodies corporate, provides for liability for offence covered by the act committed by businesses through consent, connivance or attributable to any neglect.

Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Criminal Justice and Support for Victims) Act (Northern Ireland) 2015

Creates criminal offences of human trafficking slavery, forced labour and servitude and victim protection measures in Northern Ireland.

US legislation

California Transparency in Supply Chains Act, 2010

Requires every retail seller and manufacturer doing business in California and that have annual worldwide gross receipts that exceed one hundred million dollars to disclose their efforts to eradicate slavery and human trafficking from the direct supply chain for tangible goods offered for sale.

US Criminal Code § 1589

Makes it a criminal offence, punishable by fine or custodial sentence, to knowingly (including through reckless disregard), benefit from forced labour.

Tariff Act, 1930

(as amended by The Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015)

Section 307 prohibits the importation of merchandise mined, produced or manufactured, wholly or in part, in any foreign country by forced labour. 

Executive Order - Strengthening Protections Against Trafficking In Persons In Federal Contracts, 2012

The order prohibits Federal contractors, contractor employees, subcontractors, and subcontractor employees from engaging in trafficking-related activities specified on the order. 

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