Launch of the ILO-RHSF cartoon competition on forced labour

February 23, 2021

What if your pencil was a tool against forced labour?

Image: Extract from the competition launch video (©ILO/RHSF – Noé Noviant and Charles Gay)


Join the competition!

Did you know that tens of millions of people all over the world are subjected to working conditions that amount to a modern form of slavery? Forced labour is a violation of human rights, it is one of the most extreme forms of exploitation at work. And we all have a role to play to prevent it at our own level, as companies, consumers, citizens, States, workers… or cartoonists! Cartoonists can create cartoons that will raise awareness, inspire action and emphasize the urgent need to eradicate this severe violation of human rights.

Join the international cartoon competition on forced labour organized by the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the NGO Human Resources Without Borders (RHSF), in partnership with Cartooning for Peace. [COMPETITION NOW CLOSED]

What is forced labour?

25 million men, women and children today are in forced labour – trafficked, held in debt bondage or working in slavery-like conditions, victims of violence, coercion and deception, threatened so that they can’t seek help and claim their rights.

Every country is affected. Victims often work hidden from public view and are difficult to identify. Many victims, in particular women and girls, are subjected to commercial sexual exploitation, but forced labour is also prevalent in sectors such as agriculture, fishing, domestic work, construction, manufacturing and mining.

Forced labour is estimated to generate US$150 billion in illicit profits! Industries and businesses face unfair competition and states lose billions in tax income and social security contributions.


©RHSF – Pluispraat

Time to act

As a result of the Covid-19 crisis, adults and children alike are more at risk of being trapped in forced labour. More than ever, urgent action is needed.

Did you know that nearly one person out of five in forced labour is a child? As 2021 was declared as the International Year for the Elimination of Child Labour by the United Nations General Assembly, it is time to shift from commitments to action!

 ©RHSF – Supachai Chirakup

Your impact

Cartoons are powerful tools: they can make complex messages understandable without using words and encourage people to reflect on sensitive topics.

Your cartoons can help people:

  • REFUSE forced labour as a severe violation of human rights that has no place in our societies. Forced labour can and must be eradicated from our economies.
  • UNDERSTAND forced labour in all its forms. Workers can be coerced into forced labour in many different ways: they can be deceived about the nature of the job; they can be kidnapped; they can suffer psychological, physical or sexual abuse; they can be threatened; their identification documents may have been confiscated or their wages withheld; they may have been forced to pay fees to get a job and then be trapped in a a debt that is manipulated so that they can never repay it.
  • TAKE ACTION to end this scourge. We all have a role to play! Governments must take effective measures to prevent forced labour, protect victims, ensure their access to justice. Public and private employers must take due diligence measures to ensure forced labour is not used in their business activities. Trade unions should reach out to workers so they know their rights and how to claim them. NGOs can provide assistance to victims. We can all open our eyes to see forced labour around us and demand that the goods and services we consume are forced labour free.
©RHSF – Trayko Popov

A prestigious jury

The jury is composed of representatives from:

As well as

  • Anousheh Karvar, Chair of the Alliance 8.7
  • Molly Namirembe, activist and former child labourer
©RHSF – Vladimir Kazanevski 


The jury will select the winning cartoons of the competition and designate the following awards:

  • Best cartoons of the whole competition on “Forced labour”
  • Best cartoon on “Forced labour of children”
  • Best cartoon on “Taking action”

All submitted entries will be considered for the three awards.

Winners will be interviewed by the ILO and their cartoons promoted on the websites of Cartooning for Peace, the ILO, 50 for Freedom and RHSF.

A selection of the best cartoons will be used to develop an international exhibition and a major publication to raise awareness on forced labour.

©RHSF – Vladimir Kazanevski

Competition rules

  • Cartoons should avoid using text. A few simple words may be inserted, only if in English, French or Spanish.
  • Any drawing technique is allowed.
  • Cartoons must be sent as a numeric image format jpeg, A4 size, 300dpi.
  • Each artist can submit a maximum of 4 cartoons.
  • In order to respect the neutrality of the organizers, and because forced labour is systemic and all countries and supply chains are exposed to it, cartoons will remain general without mentioning any specific entity.
  • Artists will be personally contacted if selected at the end of the selection process.
  • Cartoons should be submitted here.
  • Cartoons that disregard any of the specified rules will be discarded.

By participating in the competition, artists acknowledge that the organizers of the competition (the NGO Human Resources Without Borders and the International Labour Organization) can reuse, share, adapt and build upon the original cartoons, crediting the cartoonist as the author of the cartoon, under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0). By participating, oganizations submitting a cartoon in their own name confirm that they dispose of the intellectual property rights over the cartoon and that the organization will be credited as the artist.

For any question, contact cartooncompetition@hrwithoutborders.org

©RHSF – Ba Bilig


Learn more on Forced Labour


The cartoons displayed on that page are the winners of the previous edition of the cartoon competition.


Funding is provided by the United States Department of Labor under cooperative agreement number IL-27592-15-75-K—1. 100 percentage of the total costs of the Bridge Project is financed with Federal funds, for a total of US$17,395,138. This material does not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the United States Department of Labor, nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by the United States Government.