Ireland ratifies ILO protocol to combat forced labour, slavery and trafficking

January 30, 2019

Ireland becomes the 29th country to ratify the ILO Forced Labour Protocol, thereby committing to combating forced labour in all its forms.

Photo: Peter M Graham


By ratifying the Protocol, Ireland commits to adopt effective measures to combat forced labour, including debt bondage, forced domestic labour or trafficking in persons, to protect victims and ensure their access to remedies and compensation.

“The decision to ratify the Protocol demonstrates Ireland’s strong commitment to the ILO’s decent work agenda”, Dr. Orlaigh Quinn, Secretary General at the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation said.

“I am very pleased to receive this instrument of ratification which once again bears witness to Ireland’s continued commitment to combat forced labour”, Guy Ryder, ILO Director-General. “Ireland is contributing to the celebration of the ILO’s centenary by ratifying the Protocol to a fundamental Convention: the Forced Labour Convention. This marks a crucial step towards the objective of 50 ratifications of the Protocol by the end of 2019. In this manner, Ireland continues to advance the achievement of decent work and delivery on the UN Sustainable Development Goals, in particular SDG target 8.7”.

At the national level, Ireland has long-standing experience of action to combat forced labour. In 1931, it was one of the first countries to ratify the ILO Forced Labour Convention. It has developed a robust legal and institutional framework to combat trafficking in persons, particularly through the constant adaptation of the provisions of the Penal Code and the adoption, in 2016, of the second National Action Plan to Prevent and Combat Human Trafficking in Ireland, which includes a broad-based prevention strategy and measures relating to identification, assistance and compensation of victims.

According to global estimates, there are 24.9 million victims of forced labour throughout the world, of whom 4.8 million are victims of sexual exploitation. In the private sector, forced labour generates USD 150 billion in illegal profits every year. Several economic sectors are affected, including domestic work, construction, manufacturing, agriculture and fishing.

This new ratification brings us closer to the goal of 50 ratifications promoted by the ILO and its partners through the “50 for Freedom” global campaign. More than half of the victims of forced labour are women and girls, primarily in domestic work and commercial sexual exploitation, while men and boys were primarily in forced economic exploitation in agriculture, construction, and mining.