Belgium joins the global movement to combat forced labour

August 10, 2019

Belgium ratified the ILO Protocol on forced labour, hence joining the 37 other countries that already committed to combat forced labour in all its forms.

Photo: Max Mayorov


On 10 September 2019, Belgium ratified the Forced Labour Protocol, demonstrating its firm commitment to combating forced labour in all its forms, including trafficking in persons and debt bondage. Through this ratification, Belgium commits to adopt effective measures to combat forced labour, protect victims and ensure they have access to effective remedies, including compensation.

Belgian Ambassador Geert Muylle said that the ratification illustrates Belgium’s commitment to promoting the values and principles of the ILO. For Belgium, the normative role of the ILO must remain the priority tool for ensuring peace and social justice.

“I am very pleased to receive this instrument of ratification which is further testimony to Belgium’s ongoing commitment to combat forced labour in all its forms”, said Guy Ryder, Director-General of the International Labour Organization. “This ratification is all the more important since the ILO estimate that there are 24.9 million victims of forced labour throughout the world which show the urgency of adopting effective measures to eradicate this scourge”.

At the country level, Belgium has a long-standing experience of action to combat forced labour. It has been systematically strengthening its legal framework to combat trafficking in persons through amendments to the Penal Code aiming at clarifying and extending the definition of trafficking in persons. It has also established the Interdepartmental Unit for the Coordination of the Fight against the Trafficking and Smuggling of Human Beings, which coordinates the different stakeholder initiatives against trafficking. Furthermore, it has adopted its third plan of action for the period 2015–19 which comprises seven priority areas, including prevention, protection of victims, research, and prosecution and sanction of perpetrators.

In November 2017, during the Global Conference on child labour and forced labour in Argentina, the European Union pledged to “promote actively swift ratification of the Forced Labour Protocol among EU members”. Belgium is the 16th EU member state to ratify the ILO Protocol on Forced Labour.