World Day against Trafficking in Persons

30 July, 2015

human rights, human trafficking, business,

Today Wilton Park marks World Day against Trafficking in Persons, to raise awareness of the victims of human trafficking and modern slavery, and to reflect upon what more must be done to promote and protect their rights.

It is now more than 200 years ago that the British House of Commons passed legislation to make the slave trade illegal. Yet far from being just a tragic relic of the past, slavery continues to exist in every country across the world. Unfortunately, globalisation has increased flows of labour and commodities across international and transnational organised criminal networks, causing human trafficking and thus modern slavery to flourish across the world. Indeed, at any given time, an estimated 2.5 million people are trapped in modern slavery. This is both a violation of human rights and a security threat, as slavery and trafficking are often embedded into trans-border organised crime.

Modern slavery is especially pernicious because it is often deeply hidden. The mechanisms by which modern slavery imprisons its victims are not limited to chains and shackles, but can include threats, the confiscation of travel documents such as passports, sexual abuse and violence. It is all the harder to identify because it comes in many different forms, including child trafficking, forced labour, domestic servitude and sexual exploitation. It has infiltrated many sectors of our economy, from mining to construction, hospitality to agriculture. The UK’s Modern Slavery Act, passed in March of this year, seeks to ensure that tough penalties are in place for perpetrators, alongside important protection and support for victims.

Wilton Park has been working on a number of events to end modern slavery as part of our human rights portfolio.

Our event Combating human trafficking: business and human rights considered the most effective ways of combatting human trafficking in the business supply chain, both internationally and in the UK, bringing together a broad spectrum of participants from both the private and public sector.

An upcoming event, Human rights and mega sporting events will look at labour exploitation in the context of mega sporting events, shining a spotlight on the human rights challenges of host countries as well as the human rights performance of companies and sponsors involved in delivering the events. We are also ensuring that human trafficking is one of the crucial issues in our upcoming work on migration.

There is a long road ahead, but we will continue to work with our partners to step up the fight against modern slavery in the UK and internationally, to put an end to the misery suffered by innocent people around the world.

Related events

Conference: Combating human trafficking: business and human rights (2013)

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