Business and human rights – human trafficking in focus

In a speech earlier this month, the UN Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, Joy Ngozi Ezeilo, called on business to do more to help prevent and monitor the use of trafficked or forced labour in their supply chains.

She noted that while states have a primary obligation to protect their citizens from human rights violations, including trafficking, it is clear that “the problem of human trafficking in supply chains lies beyond the reach of any single stakeholder.”

We concur that businesses operating in a global economy with complex supply chains are well positioned to work with governments and other stakeholders to help prevent and mitigate human trafficking.

As members of ICC UK will know from previous briefings, human trafficking has rightly received much attention recently in the UK. Last month the Government set out its commitment to tackling trafficking through various efforts such as the National Referral Mechanism to identify and support victims of human trafficking and legislative measures to put labour trafficking on par with sex trafficking.

A Private Members Bill currently before Parliament – Transparency in UK Company Supply Chains – might be seen as an attempt to increase pressure on companies to tackle human trafficking. The Bill, presented by Michael Connarty MP, would require all large companies in the UK to make annual statements of measures they take to eradicate slavery, human trafficking, forced labour and child labour.

ICC UK fully supports the notion that the private sector should do more to combat the horrific practice of human trafficking. However, the Bill – as it stands – gives rise to a number of concerns regarding the workability of its reporting proposals. We are committed to working with all partners in this sphere to ensuring that business meets its responsibility to protect human rights, including protecting those within its supply chain from any form of forced labour or trafficking.

For more information on this subject, including an update on ICC UK’s advocacy work in this area, please contact Emilie Boman, Senior Policy Advisor at ICC UK (eboman@international-chamber.co.uk).