A treaty to change 25 million lives

Sign up to support the 50 for Freedom campaign and help millions of children, women and men reclaim their freedom and dignity.

What is the Protocol on Forced Labour?

It’s a legally-binding treaty that requires governments to take new measures to tackle forced labour in all its forms. It works on three main levels: protection, prevention and compensation. As an international treaty, countries must first ratify the Protocol before it enters into force.

“Slavery and civilization cannot coexist, because they are an inherent contradiction – it’s intolerable, it’s unacceptable and it’s not negotiable. We have to act now. All countries should ratify the ILO’s protocol against forced labour.”
Kailash Satyarthi, Nobel Peace Prize winner, 2014

How can the Protocol help the victims of forced labour?

The Protocol requires countries to ensure the release, recovery and rehabilitation of people living in forced labour. It also protects them from prosecution for any laws they were made to break while they were in slavery.

“If we want to make a significant change in the lives of the 25 million men, women and children in forced labour, we need to take concrete and immediate action. Let’s not just be angry at slavery, let’s make change happen.”
Guy Ryder, Director-General of the International Labour Organization

How can the Protocol prevent forced labour?

Countries that ratify the Protocol will have to make sure that all workers in all sectors are protected by legislation. They’ll have to strengthen labour inspections and other services that protect workers from being exploited. They’ll also have to take extra steps to educate and inform people and communities about crimes like human trafficking.

“Countries, please sign the Protocol on Forced Labour. And when you sign it put it into your laws, because that sends a message that fundamental rights and freedoms are non-negotiable.”
Sharan Burrow, General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation

How would the Protocol improve enforcement?

The Protocol guarantees victims access to justice and compensation — even if they’re not legal residents of the country they’re working in. Governments would also have to crack down on abuses and fraudulent practices by job recruiters and employment agencies.

S. Ada

“This signature is the logical next step in our efforts to fight this plague that is infecting our society… Having ratified the Protocol to the Forced labour Convention, we are responding to a very strong political commitment.”
Salissou Ada, Minister of Employment of Niger, first country to ratify the Protocol

Isn’t there already a treaty on forced labour?

Yes! In fact, most countries of the world have signed the landmark Forced Labour Convention of 1930. But since then, new forms of forced labour have emerged which are even more complex and difficult to tackle. The Protocol on Forced Labour complements the Convention by adding new elements, such as addressing root causes so that slavery can be eliminated once and for all. It also requires employers to exercise “due diligence” to avoid forced labour in their business practices or supply chains.

“What is significant is that we recognize that this is an issue that we as employers need to tackle together… Addressing the topic – actively naming it. Saying it’s still an issue.”
Linda Kromjong, Secretary-General of the International Organisation of Employers (2014)

In a nutshell…

The Protocol on Forced Labour won’t end forced labour by itself. But convincing governments to ratify it is a critical step in that direction. You can help to do that by signing up to support the 50 for Freedom campaign and asking your government representatives to ratify the Protocol on Forced Labour.

“I believe that modern slavery is the most outrageous assault on the rights of an individual. We should be shocked, but most people don’t even know that 21 million people are in modern slavery. People need to know that it’s a reality. ”
Wagner Moura, Actor, ILO Goodwill Ambassador

Where can I learn more about the Protocol?


Share what you've learned.