Report from the 2019 International Conference on Tackling Modern Slavery, Forced Labour and Human Trafficking in Public Sector Supply Chain.
In every country around the world, governments procure goods and services from suppliers with complex and far-reaching supply chains, where there is often a risk of modern slavery. Yet few governments have ethical standards to manage this risk in their procurement activity. Government procurement accounts for an average of 15% or more of a country’s GDP. Because of the scale and scope of public procurement, governments and public bodies have considerable leverage to mitigate modern slavery risk and to drive improved responsible business practices among their suppliers.
Leading governments are beginning to take action. In September 2017, the UK government spearheaded a Call to Action on Modern Slavery at the General Assembly. 85 countries have now signed up to this. A year later in 2018, at the UN General Assembly, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK and the USA made a joint public commitment to eradicating modern slavery from their global supply chains. Four Principles were agreed, harnessing a combined purchasing power of more than $600bn central spending.