Landmark Forced Labour Protocol enters into force

November 9, 2016

Ratifying countries are now obliged to implement the treaty and report on measures taken.

Photo: Committee on Forced Labour, ILC 2014 (Marcel Crozet/ILO)


The ILO Forced Labour Protocol, which was adopted by the International Labour Conference in 2014, enters into force on 9th November, a year after it gained its second ratification.

It means that all countries that have ratified – Niger, Norway, United Kingdom, Mauritania, Mali, France, Czech Republic, Panama and Argentina – now have to meet the obligations outlined in the Protocol.

“The ILO Forced Labour Protocol has entered into force. It requires countries to take effective measures to prevent and eliminate forced labour, and to protect and provide access to justice for victims,” said ILO Director-General Guy Ryder in a joint statement with the heads of the International Organisation of Employers (IOE) and the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC).

21 million people worldwide are victims of forced labour. They are the most vulnerable in societies and include farm workers, migrants, domestic workers, seafarers, women and girls forced into prostitution and others who are also abused, exploited and paid little or nothing. The ILO estimates that forced labour generates US $150 billion in illegal profits every year.

IOE Secretary-General, Linda Kromjong, said that the Protocol would make a difference in the lives of millions of men and women trapped in forced labour.

“We all have a role to play, and if we join forces, the end of forced labour is within reach,” she said.

Sharan Burrow, General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation stressed the legally binding nature of the Protocol.

“That means the more governments that ratify and ensure it is implemented, the closer we’ll be to eliminating slavery once and for all,” she added.

On the same day the Protocol comes into force, Argentina signified their commitment to ending modern slavery by becoming the 9th country to ratify the Forced Labour Protocol. Argentina will also host the upcoming IV Global Conference on child labour and forced labour in November 2017 in Buenos Aires.

The ILO, together with the ITUC and IOE are leading the 50 for Freedom campaign with the aim of raising awareness about the issue and encouraging at least 50 countries to ratify the Protocol.

Thousands of people around the world have shown their support for the campaign, along with a number of public figures such as Nobel Peace prize laureate, Kailash Satyarthi, and Urmila Bhoola, UN Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery, as well as several national and international organizations. Several artists have also given their talents to support 50 for Freedom: Humanitarian photographer, Lisa Kristine, donated the photos of the victims of modern slavery that are featured on the 50 for Freedom website. Actors Wagner Moura, David Oyelowo, Robin Wright, Lindiwe Bungane and Joaquin Furriel recorded videos telling the real-life stories of women and men lured into modern slavery.