About the mandate of the Slavery Fund

In 1991, the United Nations General Assembly established the Voluntary Trust Fund on Contemporary Forms of Slavery, through resolution 46/122, so that victims can access the help they need to recover. The Fund awards annual grants to civil society organizations delivering these services. 

In accordance with General Assembly resolution 46/122, grants from the Fund shall be given to extend, through established channels of assistance, humanitarian, legal and financial aid to individuals whose human rights have been severely violated as a result of contemporary forms of slavery.

The purposes of the Fund are:

  1. to assist representatives of non-governmental organizations dealing with issues of contemporary forms of slavery;
  2. to extend humanitarian, legal and financial aid to individuals whose human rights have been severely violated as a result of contemporary forms of slavery.

Funding shall be obtained by means of voluntary contributions from Governments, non-governmental organizations and other private or public entities.

The only beneficiaries from the Fund shall be:

  • representatives from non-governmental organizations dealing with issues of contemporary forms of slavery and
  • individuals whose human rights have been severely violated as a result of contemporary forms of slavery and who are so considered by the Board of Trustees.

The fund shall be administered in accordance with the Financial Regulations and Rules of UN with the advice of a Board of Trustees composed of 5 persons with relevant experience in the field of human rights and contemporary forms of slavery in particular, who will serve in their personal capacity.

Recognizing slavery

In the modern context, the circumstances of the enslaved person are crucial to identifying what practices constitute slavery. Elements of control and ownership, often accompanied by the threat of violence, are central to identifying the existence of slavery.  The migrant worker whose passport has been confiscated by his or her employer, the child sold into prostitution, or the “comfort woman” forced into sexual slavery all have the element of choice and control of their lives taken from them and passed to a third party, either an individual or a State.

A stream of evidence presented to the United Nations human rights bodies gives an accurate picture of current slavery-like practices notably in the reports of the former Working Group on Contemporary Forms of Slavery, as well as studies and findings of Special Rapporteurs, namely:

  • the Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Slavery, its Causes and Consequences;
  • the Special Rapporteur on Trafficking in Persons, especially in Women and Children;
  • the Special Rapporteur on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography;
  • the Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and related intolerance;
  • the Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, its causes and consequences;
  • the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Children in Armed Conflict;
  • the Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants;
  • worldwide annual applications to the United Nations Voluntary Fund on Contemporary Forms of Slavery, as well as non-governmental organizations.

Read all international standards relating to slavery and its contemporary forms.

About the forms of slavery that may be awarded grants from the Fund

  • Contemporary forms of slavery which qualify for project grants include traditional slavery, serfdom, servitude, forced labour, debt bondage, the worst forms of child labour, forced and early marriage, the sale of wives and inherited widows, trafficking in persons and of human organs, sexual slavery, sale of children, commercial sexual exploitation of children and children in armed conflict.
  • Projects that address other violations of human rights that exhibit the primary characteristics of ownership, control and violent coercion may also qualify for project grants, subject to the availability of funding.

The Board of Trustees has developed guidelines for the types of projects that may be funded and describing the application process in detail.



UN Voluntary Trust Fund on Contemporary Forms of Slavery
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Contact information

United Nations Voluntary Fund on Contemporary forms of Slavery,
OHCHR-UNOG, 8-14 Avenue de la Paix
1211 Geneve 10,
Switzerland
Email: slaveryfund@ohchr.org
Tel: (41) 22 917 9376
Fax: (41) 22 917 9017