UN Migration Agency, Responsible Business Alliance Sign Agreement to Combat Forced Labour and Exploitation

Date Published: 
Tuesday, October 24, 2017


Geneva – IOM, the UN Migration Agency and the Responsible Business Alliance (RBA), formerly the Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on 17 October to boost cooperation, promote ethical recruitment and protect the rights of migrant workers.

According to the latest global estimates of modern slavery, approximately 25 million people worldwide are working in situations of forced labour. Unethical recruitment is a root cause of forced labour, as a large share of migrant workers, rather than employers, are still paying for recruitment mediation fees, suffering from personal debt, a lack of transparency about their eventual working conditions, and inadequate legal protections in the countries in which they work.

This MoU provides a formal framework for IOM and RBA to pursue shared goals and objectives through exchange of information, subject matter expertise and connecting global networks. This includes coordinating the objectives and technical aspects of the RBA’s Responsible Labour Initiative (RLI) and the International Recruitment Integrity System (IRIS), which is being developed by IOM and a consortium of partners, as well as IOM and RBA training and other capacity-building initiatives and special projects.

IOM’s IRIS is a voluntary multi-stakeholder certification system for international recruitment intermediaries. It comprises an international standard certification scheme and a compliance and monitoring mechanism. RBA’s RLI is a multi-industry, multi-stakeholder initiative that brings together members, suppliers, recruitment partners and stakeholders to use their collective influence and application of due diligence to drive the transformation of recruitment markets and reduce the risk of forced labour in global supply chains.

“The exploitation of migrant workers often begins at the recruitment stage when workers are charged predatory recruitment fees or provided with misleading information about the job on offer,” said Marina Manke, head of IOM’s Labour Mobility and Human Development Division. “It is imperative that governments, civil society and the private sector work together to stop this exploitation and to change the current international recruitment model. We are therefore pleased to be working with the RBA on this important issue,” added Manke.

“The IOM and RBA complement each other’s strengths and capabilities related to ethical recruitment and together we can be more effective at promoting the rights of workers vulnerable to forced labour in global supply chains,” said Rob Lederer, Executive Director of the Responsible Business Alliance. “The combination of IOM’s IRIS and the RLI’s Labour Agency Maturity Model with stepped levels of compliance toward certification is a robust tool in the fight against forced labour.”

For more information, please contact Jorge Galindo, IOM HQ, Tel: +41 22 717 9111, Email: jgalindo@iom.int and Jarrett Bens, Responsible Business Alliance, Tel: +1 571 858 5721, Email: jbens@responsiblebusiness.org