Singapore – The Global Forum for Responsible Recruitment and Employment started yesterday (11/06) in Singapore. The two-day event, which ends today (12/06), brought together global brands, governments, NGOs and more to discuss challenges related to recruiting migrant workers and protecting them from modern slavery.
William Lacy Swing, Director General of IOM, the UN Migration Agency, delivered the keynote address on Monday. In his remarks, he noted that “forced labour today cannot be understood or effectively addressed without tackling migration, unethical recruitment practices and the conditions that are faced by migrant workers the world over.”
This morning, during a High Level Panel entitled Joining Forces to Combat Forced Labour, Ambassador Swing reinforced his message by highlighting the problems facing migrant workers today. According to 2017 estimates produced by the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the Walk Free Foundation in partnership with IOM, over 40 million people are trapped in conditions of modern slavery.
Other notable panellists at the forum included Andrew Forrest, Chairman and Founder of Fortescue Metals Group; Ian Cook, CEO of Colgate-Palmolive; Grant Reid, CEO of Mars Inc.; and Isabel Hilton, CEO of China Dialogue.
Almost 25 million of these individuals are victims of forced labour, working in private economy sectors such as construction, agriculture and domestic work, and 58 per cent of the victims are women and girls.
Researchers, civil society actors, the media and many other stakeholders around the world have been working together to understand the scope of the problem; more is known about forced labour and human trafficking than a decade ago, and innovative strategies are being put in place to tackle such exploitation.
As highlighted by the Forum, private sector entities are crucial in this fight. Companies in various industries around the world are coming together to address the risks of forced labour and trafficking as concerns the supply chain, often in partnership with organisations like IOM.
“We are at a pivotal moment in our collective efforts to tackle unethical recruitment practices in supply chains,” said Marina Manke, Head of IOM’s Labour Mobility and Human Development Division. “The success of this Forum depends on our ability to come together in genuine partnership to enhance protections for migrant workers. At IOM, we are committed to playing our part in driving this agenda forward, working in partnership with the public and private sectors and civil society to ensure that ethical recruitment becomes the norm in the global economy.”
In 2017, the Global Forum for Responsible Recruitment and Employment was the first ever forum devoted specifically to the human rights risks involved with recruiting migrant workers. The Forum’s second edition was an occasion to revisit this key topic, and discuss ways to ensure sustainable and efficient business through a global, cross-sectoral approach.
Ambassador Swing issued a strong call to action, urging all stakeholders to turn their commitments and intentions “into practical, measurable improvements in the lives of migrant workers.” He outlined three practical approaches, namely reinforcing the systems designed to help migrants receive justice when they have been wronged; increasing insight into the complex web of labour supply chains that see migrant jobseekers move from their countries of origin to their destination workplaces; and finding better ways to engage migrants in these discussions.
The Global Forum on Responsible Recruitment was hosted by the Institute for Human Rights and Business, The Leadership Group for Responsible Recruitment and the Consumer Goods Forum, supported by Humanity United.