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Modern slavery: UN rights experts welcome new international agreement on forced labour

GENEVA (13 June 2014) – A group of United Nations independent experts* on slavery, migrants, trafficking, sale and sexual exploitation of children, and internally displaced persons today welcomed the adoption by the International Labour Conference of a legally binding international Protocol to respond to today’s challenge of forced labour worldwide.

“An international legally binding Protocol is essential to fight forced labour and hold perpetrators accountable, so its immediate implementation will be crucial,” the human rights experts said, noting that the agreement will enter into force after its second ratification by a UN Member State. “Now we call on States to ratify the Protocol and ensure its full implementation.”

“We hope this new Protocol will assist the more than 20 million people who are victims of forced labour today. These victims include migrants and persons who have been trafficked, including children.”

The new Protocol, an addition to ILO Convention 29 on forced labour from 1930, addresses existing gaps and strengthens the body of instruments on forced labour, including child labour, trafficking in persons, slavery and slavery-like practices, and related human rights violations.

“It provides for measures to advance prevention, protection and remedies against forced labour, as well as measures to enforce national laws and strengthen international cooperation from gender and child-sensitive approaches,” the group of experts noted.

(*) The experts: The Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery, including its causes and its consequences, Urmila Bhoola; The Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, François Crépeau; the Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children, Joy Ngozi Ezeilo; the Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, Maud De Boer-Buquicchio; and the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons, Chaloka Beyani.

The United Nations human rights experts are part of what it is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights, is the general name of the independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms of the Human Rights Council that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world.

They are charged by the Human Rights Council to monitor, report and advise on human rights issues. Currently, there are 37 thematic mandates and 14 mandates related to countries and territories, with 72 mandate holders. In March 2014, three new mandates were added. Special Procedures experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity. Learn more: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/SP/Pages/Welcomepage.aspx

Learn more, visit:
Slavery: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Slavery/SRSlavery/Pages/SRSlaveryIndex.aspx
Migrants: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Migration/SRMigrants/Pages/SRMigrantsIndex.aspx
Trafficking: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Trafficking/Pages/TraffickingIndex.aspx
Sale of children: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Children/Pages/ChildrenIndex.aspx
Internally displaces persons: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/IDPersons/Pages/IDPersonsIndex.aspx

For further information and media requests, please contact Christel Mobech (+41 22 917 99 95 / cmobech@ohchr.org)

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Xabier Celaya, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)

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