50forFreedom: Why You Should Ask Your Government to Ratify the 2014 Protocol to the Forced Labour Convention

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Why your country should ratify the ILO Protocol to the Forced Labour Convention
Children plantation workers in the Philippines
Photo credit @ILO Asia-Pacific on Flickr

The Forced Labour Convention of 1930 is one of the eight fundamental Conventions of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) which together spell out the labour standards guiding most of the world’s countries today. As a legally binding document, it places a set of obligations on the 178 states that have ratified it to institute effective laws and regulations, aimed at suppressing the use of forced or compulsory labour within their territories. Recently, some of these measures were found to be somewhat outdated and in need of augmentation which led to the adoption of an additional protocol to the Convention.

The protocol received overwhelming support from state representatives, employers and workers present at the 2014 International Labour Conference in Geneva. A few of the Gulf states abstained but there was only one government that explicitly chose to vote against this new piece of legislation – the government of Thailand. Their stance did not come as a surprise as Thailand’s ruling elite have often been the subject of accusations of aiding and profiting from forced labour practices nor did it in any way affect the world’s collective decision to step up the fight against modern slavery.

The protocol to the Forced Labour Convention was successfully adopted on 11 June 2014. So far, Niger and Norway and very recently the UK have ratified it into national law. Like the Convention, its additional protocol is legally binding but without ratification its provisions cannot be enforced, which would put the commitments made by states two years ago at risk of becoming mere aspirations. This is why putting pressure on your government to ratify the protocol is crucial. Support the ILO’s campaign to make forced labour a thing of the past.

Here are some of the obligations your government will have under international law once it has ratified the Protocol:

  • To educate those members of society who are considered most vulnerable, as well as potential employers and the wider public
  • To protect workers from abuses taking place during the recruitment process
  • To encourage due diligence by both the public and the private sectors
  • To provide assistance, protection and rehabilitation to victims of forced labour
  • To give victims access to effective remedies such as compensation
  • To refrain from prosecuting victims for criminal offences they were forced to commit against their will

 

To read the protocol in full, click here.