Mapping of modern slavery and recommendations for the Norwegian Government’s development programme to combat modern slavery

The report has been written by Norad at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ request.

Turid Johansen Arnegaard (Policy Director Human Rights) and
Tina Davis (Independent Consultant)
Norad, 5 July 2019 


(The report in pdf-format)

1. Introduction

Modern slavery – one of the most serious human rights violations – represents a growing human rights challenge. Slavery was banned several generations ago, and the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that, “No one shall be held in slavery or servitude”.

Slavery and the slave trade are prohibited in all their forms.1 Nonetheless, some 40.3 million people are currently subject to forced labour or living in a forced marriage.2

Modern slavery must be eradicated if the world is to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). SDG 8.7 expresses the need to “[t]ake immediate and effective measures to eradicate forced labour, end modern slavery and human trafficking and secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labour, including recruitment and use of child soldiers, and by 2025 end child labour in all its forms”. The inclusion of modern slavery in the SDGs shows that efforts to combat modern slavery are no longer viewed as an isolated phenomenon linked to criminal conduct, and that modern slavery must also be regarded as a development issue. Combating modern slavery supports the human rights dimension of the SDGs, by ensuring that the most vulnerable people in the world are not excluded from developments.3

One of the Norwegian Government’s development policy priorities is to intensify efforts to eradicate modern slavery.4 This is the reason for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ request to Norad to map and identify gaps in current international efforts in the area and to make recommendations on the reinforcement of Norway’s efforts.

Norad has written this report at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ request. We have surveyed current anti-slavery efforts by means of desk studies, email correspondence and meetings in Oslo and London, as well as a series of Skype meetings. We have met government representatives, academics, civil society actors, international organisations, UN agencies, businesses, foundations, think tanks and former victims of slavery (see annex containing a meeting overview). Information on Norway’s anti-slavery work has been gathered through meetings with and requests to selected sections within Norad and the Ministry, document searches, reading of reports and meetings with selected Norwegian organisations and other actors.

The Ministry’s request restricts the survey to the development cooperation context, and we have therefore not mapped anti-modern slavery efforts in Norway. The report identifies gaps in current initiatives, as well as thematic and geographical areas which may benefit from further efforts. Combined with our assessment as to what is important for the achievement of sustainable results and our assessment of potential opportunities for Norway to make a difference and add value, the findings from the mapping form the basis for our recommendations regarding initiatives Norway should support to promote achievement of SDG 8.7 (chapter 6).

The mapping was conducted over a very short space of time, and is therefore not exhaustive in terms of the stakeholders and input factors covered. Several important actors we would have liked to meet were unavailable on such short notice.

We would like to thank all of the contributors to this survey.

2. Description of the problem of modern slavery

Definition of modern slavery

There is currently no globally agreed definition of modern slavery, although advances have been made in this area in recent years. At present, “modern slavery” is regarded as an umbrella term for a variety of situations in which persons are subjected to gross exploitation and/or are controlled through abuse of power, threats or violence, and are not free to leave the situation. Forced labour, human trafficking, the worst forms of child labour and forced marriage are all covered by this non-legal term, which describes commonalities among the aforementioned legal concepts.5

Today’s anti-modern slavery efforts are based on the Slavery Convention of 1926, the Convention on the Abolition of Slavery, the Slave Trade and Institutions and Practices Similar to Slavery (1956), ILO conventions on forced labour and protocols on human trafficking. ILO Convention No. 29 concerning Forced or Compulsory Labour (1930) is an ILO core convention, and has been ratified by 178 countries. The 2014 protocol to this convention renders it relevant to the current situation.6

Several international agreements on the combating of human trafficking have been signed. In 2000, the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime was supplemented by the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons Especially Women and Children (the Palermo Protocol),7 which has proven important in the development of national legislation. The Palermo Protocol is based on international human rights principles, and has been ratified by more than 120 countries. ILO Convention No. 182 concerning the Prohibition and Immediate Action for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour (2000)8 is also a key instrument in the fight against modern slavery.

Scope and prevalence of modern slavery

According to the 2017 report Global Estimates of Modern Slavery,9 more than 40.3 million people are in a situation of modern slavery. More than 25 million of these individuals are in forced labour situations, while 15 million are in a forced marriage.10 While the illicit and secret nature of slavery makes it difficult to quantify its actual prevalence and scope, it is known that forms of modern slavery are found in all countries of the world, in a wide range of industries and sectors, with some presenting a higher risk than others. These estimates are considered to be conservative.11

A quarter of slavery victims are children. Women and girls are disproportionately at risk, make up more than 70% of victims and are particularly vulnerable to forced labour in the commercial sex industry. Some 16 million people are victims of forced labour in private-sector supply chains, while four million persons are subject to state-organised forced labour.12 Despite being illegal, hereditary slavery continues to exist in some countries, including Mauritania, Mali, Sudan and Niger.13

Modern slavery is one of the financially most profitable crimes, and according to ILO forced labour generates an estimated USD 150 billion in illicit profits annually. On the other hand, slavery is costly for countries because large numbers of people are not integrated into society and the national economy.

High-risk countries

Modern slavery exists all over the world, and is often driven by poverty. Nevertheless, the poorest countries do not necessarily also have the highest prevalence and greatest scope of slavery. According to the Global Slavery Index,14 Asia is the region in which modern slavery is most prevalent in absolute terms, while the African continent has the highest proportion of enslaved persons.15

A 2018 analysis by the Global Slavery Index of the 10 countries with the highest prevalence of modern slavery16 indicates a link between modern slavery and two drivers: oppressive regimes and conflict. The data reported in the Global Slavery Index show that several of the countries with the highest prevalence of modern slavery also score more than 90% on vulnerability measures. This demonstrates a clear connection between modern slavery and other vulnerability and risk factors in a country.17

Some Asian countries are currently experiencing an economic boom, which may further increase the risk of forced labour in certain sectors – particularly the construction and infrastructure development industries. However, other economic developments may also influence the geographical spread of slavery. For example, increased migration and forced migration to Southern Europe, Turkey and Lebanon have boosted the number of people caught in slavery-like situations in these countries. Further, climate change is also likely to influence the geographical spread of modern slavery, as it will hit the Asia-Pacific region particularly hard – a region that already has the highest prevalence of modern slavery.

High-risk sectors

Modern slavery occurs in many different sectors. Sectors presenting a high risk of slavery include the construction industry, the extractive industry/mining industry, the textiles industry, agriculture/forestry/fisheries, the cleaning services industry, the hotel and restaurant industry, and domestic services.

Reports show that forced labour and human trafficking are serious problems in the fisheries sector.18 Investigations have revealed that many fishers are migrant workers who are highly vulnerable to exploitation aboard fishing vessels, which often operate far from shore. Modern slavery in this sector is often associated with other criminal activities, such as illegal fishing and environmental crimes. Much attention has been devoted to modern slavery in the fisheries sector in Asian countries, but there is a lack of both knowledge about and initiatives targeting modern slavery in this sector in African countries. Combating modern slavery in the fisheries sector is particularly difficult because many operations are global and cross-border in nature. Globalisation has resulted in increasing numbers of operators registering fishing vessels in open international registers or so-called flag of convenience states to avoid criminal liability. Where transnational operators are involved, it is not unusual for a vessel suspected of involvement in the slave trade to be registered in one country and to be operating in another country, while the owner is based in a third country and crew members come from a fourth and sometimes even a fifth country.

Forced labour often arises in sectors in which there is strong demand for manual, cheap labour, such as the agricultural sector. More than one billion people work in the agricultural sector globally, including some 60% of all workers in sub-Saharan Africa.19 The agricultural industry is vulnerable, not least due to climate change, which is making labour demand unpredictable. In addition, the sector features many fixed costs linked to, for example, fertilizer and transport. Salary is therefore one of few flexible costs. Various supply chain factors may create cost pressure up the chain, ultimately impacting the most vulnerable workers. At present, 70% of all child labour takes place in the agricultural sector, with the majority occurring in Africa.20 Forced labour and child labour are driven by poverty in agricultural areas, migration and a lack of alternative job opportunities. Climate change and conflict also influence working conditions in the agricultural industry.

Forced labour may be used at different stages of the production process. It may occur in the production of raw materials, in the processing of individual components, in the manufacture of actual products or at the distribution stage.

A survey conducted by the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) of a sample of 50 large companies has shown that only 6% of the companies’ total workforce was directly employed. In other words, these companies relied on a hidden workforce amounting to 94% of the workers in their global supply chains – equivalent to 116 million people. It is common knowledge that the risk of forced labour is particularly high in hidden workforces, and that a large proportion of the 25 million victims of forced labour are indirect employees in the supply chains of multinational companies.21 The US Department of Labor issues a list of import goods produced using forced labour and child labour. The list includes 139 goods from 75 countries. The highest rates of child and forced labour are associated with cotton, sugar, coffee, fish, textiles, shoes, bricks, gold and diamonds. Other high-risk goods include electronics (mobile telephones, computers), furniture and leather products.22

Indicators of modern slavery/different types of force

There are various indicators that a person may be being subjected to force or is at risk of this. Risk factors linked to modern slavery include the following:23 confiscation of workers’ passports, demands for payment of a recruitment fee or travel expenses, payment of advances to workers which create debt to an agent or employer, promises of different working conditions than a job actually entails, withholding of pay, very long work days, threatened or actual violence, and exploitation of vulnerability due to residence status or language difficulties.

At-risk persons

Exploitation of vulnerability is central in all forms of modern slavery. . Modern slavery revolves around power relationships, and individuals/groups without power – such as migrant workers, refugees, low-caste persons and young women and girls – have a higher likelihood of ending up in slavery-like situations. Low status is enshrined in social norms which legitimise exploitation. A clear link appears to exist between marginalisation and the risk of modern slavery.24 Worsening socioeconomic conditions may further increase vulnerability, and thus also the risk of individuals being subjected to force.

Migrants are among the most vulnerable workers in the world. They may be at risk of various forms of exploitation in connection with recruitment, in transit and while working in their destination country. Irregular migrants without residence or work permits are particularly vulnerable to exploitation as – in many cases – they have few or no legal safeguards in their destination countries. 

Women and girls make up 71% of all enslaved persons.25 The primary drivers of enslavement of women and girls are deeply rooted social norms, patriarchal gender roles and a lack of opportunity.

A child marriage is one in which at least one of the parties is under 18 years of age at the time the marriage is entered into. A forced marriage is one in which one or both of the parties have no opportunity to consent freely to the marriage. Forced marriages can occur independently of age. Child marriages can be regarded as forced marriages because the children have not been given an opportunity to express their consent freely. Child marriage is widespread in both geographical and numerical terms. The UN estimates that 12 million girls are married off every year.26 It is estimated that an additional 150 million girls will be subjected to child marriage by 2030 unless efforts to combat child marriage are intensified.27 The highest rates of child marriage are found in sub-Saharan Africa, where around two in five girls are married before they turn 18.

More recent studies and news coverage from some Asian countries show that the risk of forced marriage and sex slavery increases in societies with an enduring gender imbalance and a growing population of young males, as these factors increase demand for women/girls for marriage or commercial sexual exploitation. 28 Women are increasingly being used as slaves in armed conflicts, as a means of generating income, in the exertion of ideological dominance over opponents and in forced marriage to boost the recruitment of fighters.

Children make up 25% of all people currently subjected to modern slavery.29 Child labour in the context of domestic work is widespread in many countries, and must in certain instances be regarded as forced labour and as one of the worst forms of child labour. These children are among the most vulnerable. Many children who are at risk of subjection to various forms of modern slavery have not been registered at birth.30

New forms of slavery are being uncovered all the time. For example, orphanages may be an entry point into slavery for both orphans and children with parents. Children may be exploited in such institutions, or may be sold by the institutions for exploitation in other situations. Persons who have stayed in such institutions may also be more vulnerable to enslavement later in life.31

Drivers and risk factors

Recent research has begun to reveal the drivers of modern slavery. Risk factors have been identified at the individual level, at the societal level and at the national level. At the individual level, risk factors include age, gender, income, educational level, health and other factors associated with social isolation.32 Research has demonstrated how vulnerability at the individual level interacts with risk factors at other levels. Modern slavery is complex, and its causes are numerous and complicated, not least because modern slavery has become interlinked with the global economy and organised crime.

Corruption as a driver: Modern slavery is a multifaceted crime. Human traffickers may also be involved in other criminal activities, including fraud, deception, smuggling, kidnapping, assault, imprisonment, money laundering, rape and murder. Such crimes are facilitated by corruption. In the case of human trafficking, border guards and police officers may be paid to look the other way, while in the case of forced labour bribes may be paid for licences, concessions or the passing of labour inspections. Newer reports have examined links between corruption and modern slavery.33

Labour migration as a driver: A lack of jobs in home countries/at home and demand for labour elsewhere leads people to look for work in other countries. Irregular migration may present dangers for migrants, as well as a risk of enslavement during travel or in the destination country. Temporary labour migration, particularly of workers with limited qualifications, is currently increasing. Demographic trends show that increasing numbers of young people from African countries are seeking work via various migration corridors. Migrants are often exploited by agents and forced to pay recruitment fees. They often have to circumvent legal migration routes and have to enter the informal economy, working as domestic helpers, in the construction industry or in the agricultural sector, thereby again increasing the risk of subjection to force. Involvement in the informal sector may also entail reduced participation in society, poorer health and the absence of a safety net – all additional drivers of modern slavery. The system continues thanks to a lack of state regulation and supervisory bodies and, in many cases, widespread corruption.

In many countries, migration is also an instrument of development. Some countries, including Ethiopia and the Philippines, are implementing strategic initiatives to regulate migration and protect migrants in order to utilise the development potential of migration.34

Conflict as a driver: Several of the countries with the highest prevalence of modern slavery are also countries involved in conflict. The role of conflict in reinforcing the links between vulnerability and modern slavery are well-known.35 Research shows that conflict increases the risk of modern slavery, and that conflict facilitates the exploitation of people on a scale which is rarely possible in other situations.36 The breakdown of legal systems and protection mechanisms makes it easier to apply force to vulnerable individuals and groups. Weakened family networks and targeted use of schools for military purposes increases children’s vulnerability to involvement in child labour and other forms of exploitation, including recruitment as child soldiers.37

Modern slavery is a source of recruitment for armed groups, as well as a tactic used in ideological oppression and the financing of conflicts. The increasing fragmentation of armed conflicts indicates that established inter-governmental standards for warfare are being weakened, including the taboo against slavery. There are signs of more deliberate use of slavery as an instrument in conflicts. Armed groups – and in some cases also state actors – are involved in what has become a lucrative source of income in some regions. In countries like Iraq, Syria, Libya and Nigeria, militias are fighting for control of migration routes, and thus the opportunity to exploit individuals.38

Conflict-driven displacement is reaching historical highs, with numerous people ending up in refugee camps offering very limited opportunities for decent work. These individuals, who have also lost their social networks, are vulnerable to involvement in forced labour, commercial sexual exploitation or forced marriage.

Climate change as a driver: The geographical prevalence of different forms of slavery is also influenced by climate change.39 Even in the absence of major natural disasters, climate change will gradually have such a large impact on primary industry that a significant reorganisation of industries as we currently know them is likely to result. This will probably have negative consequences for households, livelihoods and social networks, which in turn will force increasing numbers of people to migrate. To date, politicians and academics have focused little attention on the links between climate change, environmental destruction and modern slavery.40

3. Who is doing what to combat modern slavery?

Domestic activities of national authorities

National authorities play a crucial role in the fight to eradicate all forms of modern slavery. Efforts in this area must incorporate prevention, legislation, prosecution and victim support, as well as the development of international strategies and cooperation.

Research shows that official efforts in the legal field have improved somewhat in recent years.41 While the number of prosecutions and convictions is increasing, the number of convictions remains low relative to the number of people subjected to modern slavery. According to the annual US Trafficking in Persons Report,42 which contains data on human trafficking covering most countries in the world, the highest number of convictions for human trafficking achieved in a single year is 7,000.43 Accordingly, the risk of being penalised for involvement in modern slavery is very low.44 Potential explanations of the low number of convictions include insufficient resources and a lack of knowledge and capacity among national and local authorities, the police and in the judicial system. In addition, the reasons for deficient prosecution include challenges in investigating cross-border cases and widespread corruption among public officials in various countries.45

In addition to penal codes which prohibit different forms of modern slavery, there is a growing trend towards national governments introducing modern slavery laws and due diligence legislation which requires business and, in some cases, the authorities to report on the risk of modern slavery linked to their operations and supply chains. The 2011 UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGP) have triggered this development.46

Modern slavery laws have now been adopted in California, USA (2010), the United Kingdom (2015) and Australia (2018), and are currently  being passed in the Australian state of New South Wales (2018). The latter law will be the first of its kind to impose penalties on companies that do not comply with the law. Similar legislation is being discussed in Hong Kong, Canada and Norway, where the Government has announced that it will assess the need for a modern slavery law.47

The UK’s Modern Slavery Act48 was the first national legislation of its kind. The act has helped put modern slavery high up on the agenda of politicians, businesses, research institutions and civil society actors, both within and outside the UK. The effects of the act can be seen in, for example, the volume of research now being done in this field by British universities, and the fact that the UK has become a hub for seminars, conferences and strategic collaboration in the modern slavery field. At the same time as the new act was issued, an anti-slavery commissioner was appointed, who has played a key role in highlighting and promoting the UK’s efforts – both nationally and internationally. The commissioner has played a central role in the adoption of SDG 8.7. An independent evaluation of the UK’s Modern Slavery Act has recently been concluded, with the authorities due to respond in the summer of 2019.49

France introduced a due diligence act in 2017, which has become a benchmark for similar legislation. The act is also based on the UNGP and sets out requirements for due diligence plans and reporting, including on the supply chain risks of companies above a certain size. The Netherlands has recently introduced a due diligence act intended to prevent child labour.50 Finland is considering the introduction of a due diligence act focused on human rights.

Brazil has spearheaded the fight against slavery. Following the discovery of a major forced labour case in 1989, Brazil has adopted various measures at official level and in collaboration with civil society and private undertakings. Several labour inspection teams have been formed, which have successfully freed tens of thousands of workers from forced labour. Brazilian anti-slavery legislation is among the most progressive in the world. Moreover, since 2004 the authorities have maintained a Dirty List – a public list of employers and companies found to have exploited workers. To date, more than 300 companies have been put on the list, causing them both financial and reputational loss. However, the robust anti-slavery infrastructure which Brazil has established is now being challenged on several fronts.51

Multilateral initiatives

At the 2017 G20 summit, all of the participating countries agreed to step up their efforts to improve national regulations that promote decent work and basic workers’ rights in global supply chains.52 Subsequently, the G20 countries have also reached agreement on a range of measures to promote transparency in supply chains, including policies prohibiting recruitment fees. The G20 countries account for almost 80% of global trade, and it is estimated that, collectively, they import USD 354 million worth of products associated with a potential risk of modern slavery annually.53 This makes the efforts of these countries very important.

In 2017, the United Kingdom launched an initiative called A Call to Action to End Forced Labour, Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking at the UN General Assembly.54 The objective of the campaign is to drive change and secure stronger political will to achieve SDGs 8.7 and 16.2. The campaign comprises principles and proposals for strategic approaches at national level, as well as a platform for cooperation and experience-sharing. To date, more than 80 countries – including Norway – have signed up to the initiative. Much has happened following the campaign, at both national and global level, in the form of legislation, national action plans and the establishment of international platforms for the coordination of initiatives and research (Alliance 8.7 and Delta 8.7).

As a follow-up measure to the call to action, the USA hosted the conference Stepping up Action to End Forced Labour, Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking55 in 2018. At this conference, a new partnership was launched to combat modern slavery in public procurement, based on the Principles to Guide Government Action to Combat Human Trafficking in Global Supply Chains. The principles have been developed by the USA, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and the United Kingdom. Large public procurements give national authorities substantial opportunities to influence working conditions in supply chains. The aim of the partnership is that all countries should develop strategies to combat human trafficking in public-private supply chains.56 By way of follow-up measure, the countries behind the principles recently arranged the first international conference on modern slavery in public procurements.57

A further important regional collaboration is the Bali Process on People Smuggling, Trafficking in Persons and Related Transnational Crime, which was established in 2002. This collaborative project encompasses 45 member states and international organisations, including UN agencies (UNHCR, UNODC, IOM and ILO). The Bali process features an ad hoc group which gathers the most high-risk countries to address specific issues related to human trafficking, people smuggling and irregular migration in the Asia-Pacific region. The collaboration also features a steering group comprising Australia, Thailand, New Zealand and Indonesia. In 2018, the Bali Process Government and Business Forum presented recommendations on how to strengthen public-private cooperation in the region to combat modern slavery.58

Coordinated international development cooperation

No overview is available of how international development cooperation linked to combating modern slavery is funded. Research by the UN University estimates that, between 2000 and 2013, 30 OECD countries contributed approximately USD 4 billion in ODA to this work. In recent years, this support has been distributed among a larger number of recipient countries (from 29 in 2000 to over 100 in 2013).59 These calculations relate only to ODA, and exclude domestic spending by states and non-ODA support. A further unknown is how much non-state and private actors are investing in global anti-slavery efforts. At present, initiatives appear to be fragmented and generally uncoordinated. Overall, the measures being taken are clearly under-financed, and cannot match the scope, profitability and complexity of the underlying problem. There also appears to be a mismatch between where resources are spent and where the needs are the greatest.60

Alliance 8.7 was founded in 2016 in response to an expressed need to promote coordination of global efforts to achieve SDG 8.7. It is the first initiative launched in this respect. The alliance brings together states, international and regional organisations, trade unions, businesses, civil society actors and research institutions in order to generate momentum in this field through the development of joint strategies, initiation of research, knowledge-sharing and specific cooperation measures at country level.61 As such, the establishment of Alliance 8.7 is consistent with SDG 17, which aims to strengthen resource mobilisation and revitalise the global partnership for sustainable development, and particularly SDG 17.16, which concerns promotion of “the global partnership for sustainable development, complemented by multi-stakeholder partnerships that mobilize and share knowledge, expertise, technology and financial resources, to support the achievement of the sustainable development goals in all countries, in particular developing countries”.62

Currently, the alliance comprises 15 pathfinder countries, 217 organisations and seven supporting countries.63 At an event marking ILO’s 100th anniversary on 10 June 2019, Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg announced Norway’s intention to join the alliance.64 The Global Coordinating Group is composed of active partners from a range of sectors, who formulate objectives for the work of the alliance and evaluate progress. ILO serves as the alliance’s secretariat. Delta 8.7 is the alliance’s knowledge platform, and collates the most important data, research and analyses related to modern slavery. It also helps ensure that policy development is based on available data.

Alliance 8.7 was established to support the efforts of states to achieve SDG 8.7. To date, 15 countries have formally expressed interest in becoming so-called pathfinder countries,65 and 11 of these have started work on strategic plans. In addition, four action groups66 have been formed, reflecting Alliance 8.7’s thematic priorities. The groups are concentrating on the following thematic areas: supply chains (led by ILO), migration (IOM and UNICEF), rule of law and governance (OHCHR) and conflicts and humanitarian settings (UNICEF and IOM).67 The work of the supply chain group is supported by the Netherlands, Germany and the USA, while the UK is involved in the work of the migration group .

UN agencies

UN agencies play an important role in efforts to combat modern slavery, through both normative and operational initiatives. Below, an overview is provided of some initiatives pursued by a selection of UN agencies and other UN actors. These organisations are partners in Alliance 8.7, and some of them have accepted leading roles in the aforementioned action groups.

ILO plays a dual role in anti-modern slavery efforts. It is the most important standard-setter due to its promotion and development of international conventions and standards designed to ensure decent working conditions. Additionally, ILO operates various mechanisms for monitoring states’ compliance with their labour law obligations. This includes the option of bringing specific complaints against individual countries. Four of ILO’s eight core conventions concern the combating of child labour and forced labour, and are of direct relevance in anti-modern slavery efforts. 50 for freedom is an international campaign seeking to persuade all countries to sign up to the protocol to ILO’s Forced Labour Convention.68

ILO also engages in operational work, assisting states with the implementation of international labour standards in different sectors through the provision of technical advice and capacity-building. ILO uses development cooperation strategies for its work, the most recent of which relates to the period 2020–2025.69 

Moreover, ILO and IOM have joined forces to spearhead implementation of the UN Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (2018) with the aim of promoting decent working conditions related to labour migration. Among other things, ILO is investing considerable resources in the promotion of fair recruitment.70 This topic is also being addressed by the Alliance 8.7 working groups concentrating on migration and supply chains, respectively.

IOM is working to coordinate implementation of the measures described in the UN Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, which contains many objectives relevant to modern slavery. This applies particularly to objective 1 on data collection, objective 3 on the provision of information to migrants, objective 6 on fair and ethical recruitment and decent working conditions, objective 7 on reducing vulnerabilities in migration and objective 10 on combating human trafficking. IOM’s efforts in this area are based on both the UN Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration and SDG 10.7 to “facilitate orderly, safe, and responsible migration and mobility of people, including through implementation of planned and well-managed migration policies”. In addition, IOM has assumed an active role in Alliance 8.7, leading the work of the migration group.

IOM is also playing a prominent role in international efforts to promote decent recruitment, not least by hosting the first global conference on regulation of international recruitment and migrant workers, held in Canada recently.71

UNICEF is a key player in the development of new methodologies for highlighting child labour, and is cooperating closely with ILO on measures related to SDG 8.7. UNICEF is operating in the countries in which the worst forms of child labour are most prevalent. UNICEF’s support for prevention and eradication of the worst forms of child labour is gradually being integrated into broader multi-sectoral programmes to strengthen national protection systems for children. This necessitates close cooperation with both authorities and businesses. UNICEF’s work in this area is being further reinforced by its birth registration project, which is supported by DFID.

UNICEF estimates that 12 million girls under the age of 18 are subjected to child marriage every year, and is doing important work in this area. Norway is contributing a total of NOK 110 million to the UN’s efforts to combat harmful practices in 2019. This includes funding to combat child marriage.

UNICEF is involved in the demobilisation of children from armed groups in conflict areas. In 2018, more than 13,000 children in 16 countries were released, and UNICEF is spearheading follow-up and rehabilitation services for them.

UNICEF is an Alliance 8.7 partner, and a member of the conflict and migration groups.

The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) is an important contributor in this area. OHCHR chairs the Alliance 8.7 thematic group on rule of law and governance, and administers the UN Voluntary Fund on Contemporary Forms of Slavery, which supports victims of modern forms of slavery.

The UN Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery, including its causes and consequences72 is one of the OHCHR’s special procedures with a thematic mandate. The special rapporteur presents annual status reports and thematic reports to the UN Human Rights Council and the UN General Assembly. The rapporteur also makes country visits and drafts reports containing recommendations based on these visits.

The UN Working Group on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises73 is mandated to promote implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGP).74 Modern slavery is integrated into the activities of the Working Group, including thematic reports and reports on country visits, where relevant. Modern slavery has also been on the agenda of the annual UN Forum on Business and Human Rights.

UNODC is engaged in broad anti-human trafficking efforts, including technical and specialist cooperation in all geographical regions. UNODC covers a broad of issues, including prevention, education, sectoral reform, enforcement of laws, and victim protection and follow-up.75 In the fisheries sector, UNODC has studied recruitment practices and issued recommendations to promote ethical recruitment, developed courses on controls and for investigative bodies, examined challenges related to international cooperation and given support to efforts to identify and follow up victims. UNODC has also developed several useful tools.76

Above, we have provided some insights into international initiatives and operational measures supported by selected key UN agencies with the aim of combating modern slavery. Several other UN agencies, including FAO, UNDP UNHCR and UNFPA, are also partners in Alliance 8.7, and are doing important work to combat modern slavery at country level.

Bilateral donor initiatives

Some countries are investing in targeted anti-slavery efforts at the national level while also engaging in international initiatives and functioning as donors through their development cooperation programmes. The United Kingdom, the USA, the Netherlands, Australia, France, Germany and Argentina are important supporting countries in Alliance 8.7. Below, we have sought to provide an overview of the work done by some of these donor countries with broad experience from the international fight against slavery. However, this is not a complete picture of what these countries are doing. Given the timeframe for this mapping exercise, it was not possible to include additional donor countries in the report.

The United Kingdom is an international leader in combating modern slavery. It has launched several internationally coordinated initiatives, and is an important supporter of the UN system, Alliance 8.7 and other multilateral forums in this area. The UK’s efforts have been driven not least by the UK’s Modern Slavery Act77 and the Call to Action to End Forced Labour, Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking.78

In the UK, the Home Office and DFID collaborate closely on anti-slavery measures, and seek to identify commonalities between national and international anti-slavery initiatives. DFID has organised its work in this area as a Migration and Modern Slavery Department. DFID’s efforts follow an overarching strategy which encompasses targeted efforts, integration of the modern slavery perspective into all relevant development cooperation and support for research.

DFID engages in extensive development cooperation in multiple countries as a means of combating modern slavery. Last year, the UK donated GBP 200 million in targeted aid linked to this issue.79 This includes donations of GBP 11 million to the Modern Slavery Innovation Fund, which invests in innovative projects,80 and GBP 20 million to the Global Fund to End Modern Slavery (GFEMS), which is also supported by the USA and Norway. DFID is collaborating closely with UN agencies. Of particular note are DFID’s cooperation with ILO on a project focused on ethical recruitment, safe migration and decent work for women and girls from Bangladesh, Nepal and India in the Middle East, and cooperation with UNICEF on two projects concentrating on birth registration – one in Pakistan and one targeting children at risk of slavery in Ethiopia, Somalia and Sudan.

At ILO’s 100th anniversary conference on 10 June 2019, UK Prime Minister Teresa May announced several new initiatives demonstrating the breadth of the UK’s investment in SDG 8.7. Among other things, she noted GBP 100 million in support for a programme to prevent exploitation of children in African countries, a donation of GBP 140,000 to the UN Inter-Agency Coordination Group against Trafficking in Persons (ICAT), as well as the establishment of the UK’s own International Modern Slavery and Migration Envoy, who will be mandated to promote and coordinate international cooperation.81

The USA is extensively engaged in anti-human trafficking efforts.82 The US Department of State’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (TIP Office) administers some 86 bilateral and regional projects in more than 76 countries, with a total budget of USD 125 million. This does not include programmes administered by the US Department of Labor. The TIP Office is responsible for both bilateral and multilateral cooperation in this area. The US authorities are demonstrating global leadership in the fight against human trafficking, which they regard as both an important human rights issue and a law enforcement issue.

The USA publishes an annual Trafficking in Persons Report (TIP Report).83 The report contains data on human trafficking in over 180 countries, and is thus the world’s most comprehensive source of data on official anti-human trafficking efforts. The report ranks countries in three categories, based on their efforts. It also contains country-specific recommendations for officials, for example relating to enforcement of legislation, implementation of different measures to protect victims and prevention measures. The TIP Report is the most important instrument in the USA’s human trafficking-related cooperation with other authorities. The USA follows the 3 Ps principle: prosecution (legislative work and criminal prosecution), protection (safeguarding and supporting victims of human trafficking) and prevention (averting human trafficking).

The TIP Office’s International Programs section develops annual regional strategies, administers an announcement process, monitors ongoing processes and provides technical assistance to support recipients. The programmes run by the section include multi-year collaborations with national authorities and shorter-term technical assistance programmes for authorities and civil society actors. The office also provides immediate assistance to human trafficking victims. Further, the TIP Office supports research projects and innovative approaches to combating human trafficking.

In 2017, the TIP Office launched its Program to End Modern Slavery (PEMS), which has a budget of USD 75 million and supports innovative programmes and projects aiming to achieve a measurable, substantial reduction in modern slavery in selected countries and regions. USD 25 million has been earmarked for a three-year programme run by the Global Fund to End Modern Slavery (GFEMS) and GFEMS’ other work – primarily in the Philippines, Vietnam and India.

The Netherlands has long been actively involved in international initiatives to combat child labour. The country recently introduced a national due diligence act to prevent child labour (2019), and has announced a further large contribution (EUR 35 million) to ILO’s anti-child labour work, with a focus on African countries. The Netherlands is also a high-profile participant in international efforts to fight modern slavery more generally, including as an Alliance 8.7 supporting country and in the context of various other multi-partner initiatives.

Private foundations and funds

A group of influential business leaders has played a central role in putting modern slavery on the international agenda over the past decade. Although they share the overall aim of eradicating modern slavery, they are concentrating on somewhat different areas.

The foundation Humanity United was founded by the philanthropists behind the Omidyar Group, and an important aspect of its work revolves around influencing policy development as a means of combating all forms of modern slavery. Among other initiatives, the foundation has established the civil society network Alliance to End Slavery and Trafficking and, in cooperation with the US authorities, the Partnership for Freedom, to combat human trafficking and improve support for survivors.84 Humanity United is working with authorities, private sector actors, workers and the media to reduce forced labour and improve conditions for migrant workers in sectors such as palm oil and fisheries. It is also financing Know the Chain, an overview of forced labour in selected sectors and a ranking of branded goods companies in the foodstuffs, ICT and clothing industries.85 In collaboration with other actors, the foundation has also established Working Capital, an innovation fund for supply chains.86

The Minderoo Foundation and the Australian businessman Andrew Forrest have founded the Walk Free foundation to facilitate more strategic anti-modern slavery initiatives. Walk Free provides financing for research and engages directly with authorities, businesses and religious leaders to achieve this aim. Walk Free has played a central role in focusing greater global attention on modern slavery. The foundation’s contribution to the Global Slavery Index87 is of particular significance. Walk Free was also instrumental in the launch of the Global Freedom Network, a network of important religious leaders in which the Pope is also a participant. Further, the foundation is responsible for the campaign to introduce a modern slavery act in Australia.88

Minderoo/Walk Free have played a key role in the creation of the Bali Process Government and Business Forum – a forum in which authorities and business leaders work together to fight modern slavery in Asia and the Pacific region.89 Moreover, Minderoo is one of the founders of the organisation Freedom United, a network of activists with around six million followers on social media which spreads information through a variety of campaigns.90

The Legatum Foundation is the development arm of the investment company Legatum Group. Human trafficking is one of the foundation’s focus areas, and it has provided USD 110 million in funding for 1,480 projects in 107 countries since 1999.91

In 2013, Humanity United, the Minderoo Foundation and the Legatum Foundation founded the Freedom Fund – the world’s first private philanthropic initiative focused on fighting modern slavery.92 In addition to the original donations of the three founders, the Freedom Fund has received support from the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, The Stardust Fund, and the C & A Foundation. Recently, the three founders made an additional donation of USD 16.2 million.93

The Global Fund to End Modern Slavery (GFEMS) has a public-private funding structure. The fund’s aim is to lead a coordinated international initiative to eradicate modern slavery, with a focus on upscaling financing for anti-slavery measures at the global level, through cooperation with authorities, the private sector and computer experts.94 GFEMS’ projects target reductions in individuals’ vulnerability to exploitation, and the fund cooperates with businesses on innovative projects to reduce slavery in supply chains. GFEMS also invests in data collection to measure the prevalence and trends in modern slavery, as a potential guide for future efforts. At present, GFEMS is running projects in India, Bangladesh, Vietnam and the Philippines, and working on surveys and programme designs focusing on Kenya, Uganda and Ethiopia.95 Part of GFEMS’ strategy going forward is to support projects in the rule-of-law field.96 GFEMS receives financial support from the USA, the UK and Norway.

The above is just a selection of the funds and foundations which are central in the fight against modern slavery. Several others could also have been included in the report.

Civil society actors – international and Norwegian

Many anti-slavery initiatives have been launched over the past 10 years. According to the Global Modern Slavery Directory,97 more than 2,900 organisations in 199 countries are currently working on different forms and aspects of modern slavery.

International organisations with extensive experience of anti-slavery work are found primarily in the USA and the UK. These organisations have different origins, structures and focus areas. They engage in a broad range of activities, including information campaigns, awareness-raising initiatives, training, prevention and survivor support.98
While some of the organisations work with local communities and authorities at country level, others work with businesses and on supply chain issues. Nevertheless, they have in common that they rarely implement projects alone, preferring to work through other local and national organisations.

We discuss a selection of organisations below. Some have been chosen because they operate on the largest global platforms, are leaders in their fields and/or have extensive experience and can demonstrate results over time.

The longest-standing international organisation active in this area is the UK-based body Anti-Slavery International (ASI). It was founded 180 years ago, and is the world’s first human rights organisation. Among other things, ASI is notable for its long-term, integrated approach to working in selected high-risk local communities. ASI has recently completed a 10-year evaluation of its work in selected African countries.99

The Freedom Fund supports local projects in eight selected areas – referred to as hotspots – in which there is a high concentration of modern slavery.100 It adopts an integrated approach to its work, collaborating with local authorities, local organisations, the private sector, the media and social movements in hotspots, with the aim of promoting enduring systemic change. It also cooperates with grassroots organisations to ensure that its work is sustainable. Finally, the fund initiates and finances research in areas in which gaps have been identified.

The US-based organisation Free the Slaves has existed since 2000, and has gained considerable experience through its anti-slavery work. Every Child Protected against Trafficking (ECPAT) has focused on children and young people involved in human trafficking since 1990.

The Ethical Trading Initiative was established in the UK in 1998, and works to promote decent work in global supply chains. ETI is running projects in various countries, providing training for businesses and authorities, and is a key participant in international initiatives related to public procurements and decent recruitment.101

The Modern Slavery Map is an interactive online catalogue of organisations working to eradicate slavery in collaboration with private partners.102 The new platform is supported by the ILO Global Business Network on Forced Labour and Human Trafficking and Alliance 8.7. The interactive map, which is based on a database encompassing more than 100 anti-slavery organisations, was initially created to help companies navigate different anti-modern slavery initiatives.

A survey has been carried out examining what Norwegian civil society actors are doing in this area. Many of the organisations below receive support from Norad, but few of them have explicitly included anti-slavery initiatives in their plans or reports. Nevertheless, some organisations are engaged in projects that form part of anti-slavery efforts. For example, organisations may be working on development projects in high-risk areas which could also help prevent forced labour and human trafficking even though this is not a stated project objective. As the list below shows, some organisations are also engaged in targeted efforts. The list is not exhaustive. Many of the listed organisations are members of a resource group appointed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, but there are also other Norwegian organisations which are involved in relevant anti-slavery initiatives.

  • SOS Children's Villages Norway receives support from Norad for its family strengthening programmes in Malawi and Zimbabwe. Among other things, these programmes focus on preventing the institutionalisation of children, which may increase slavery risk for children who are already vulnerable. SOS Children’s Villages is also engaged in birth registration – an important preventive measure to eradicate child slavery.
  • Plan International Norway receives support from Norad for its work against child marriage and forced marriage. The organisation works with local communities, traditional leaders, parents, young people, children and authorities to prevent child marriage and change traditions and gender roles which legitimise child marriage. Norad is supporting Plan International Norway’s anti-child marriage projects in Tanzania, Zambia, Vietnam, Malawi and
  • Save the Children Norway is running large-scale programmes to promote children’s rights and protect children in numerous countries. These are supported by Norad. Some of the organisation’s work can be labelled as anti- slavery work. Among other things, Save the Children Norway is engaged in a programme of targeted anti-child marriage initiatives in Ethiopia and Somalia, in collaboration with Norwegian Church Aid.
  • NORCAP/the Norwegian Refugee Council are operating a number of projects focused on human trafficking in humanitarian contexts. In particular, NORCAP is collaborating with the Global Protection Cluster Anti-Trafficking Task Team,103which was established in 2017 to improve integration of an anti-slavery focus into existing humanitarian response mechanisms.
  • Caritas has been selected as the partner for Operation Day’s Work 2019, with a focus on projects serving young victims of forced labour in cobalt mines and militias in DRC. The aim of the projects is to give 15,000 young people access to educational and vocational training. Caritas is also supporting initiatives to promote decent jobs in the agricultural and fisheries sectors, which can be regarded as indirect prevention of modern slavery.
  • Norwegian Church Aid is engaged in five projects of particular relevance in its anti-slavery work, in DRC, Malawi and Myanmar. In DRC, the organisation is working with partners to support girls and women who are victims of forced sex work. In Malawi, Norwegian Church Aid is supporting a centre which takes in child victims of human trafficking. The work done in Myanmar encompasses both information campaigns in cooperation with various official bodies and local communities and reintegration and psychological support for survivors.
  • The Norwegian Human Rights Fund has been supporting local organisations in Pakistan and India which serve highly vulnerable groups at risk of various forms of exploitation for many years. In Pakistan, the fund is supporting initiatives for the benefit of low-caste groups, as well as measures to combat forced marriage and forced labour, particularly in brick factories. In India, the fund is supporting organisations promoting the labour rights of Dalits.
  • Ethical Trading Initiative Norway is a multi-stakeholder initiative and resource centre for responsible business conduct. The organisation promotes sustainability in supply chains and respect for human rights and workers’ rights in international trade. Training courses focus on due diligence assessments based on OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Business Conduct. The Ethical Trading Initiative Norway is engaged in a number of cooperation projects of particular relevance to modern slavery. These include projects focusing on ethical recruitment practices, worker representation and procurement practices. Among others, the organisation collaborates with the Ethical Trading Initiative in the UK. Norad has supported its work since 2010.
  • Fairtrade is one of several international certification systems designed to support fair trading. Fairtrade promotes an alternative way of doing business, by imposing requirements as to higher prices for raw materials, environmental standards and safe working conditions. Fairtrade helps small-scale farmers in selected countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America to join forces and form cooperatives, thereby strengthening their position in negotiations with traders. Fairtrade’s minimum prices are sufficient to provide workers with better pay and small-scale farmers with a more predictable income. This helps combat some of the causes of modern slavery.
  • Future in Our Hands focuses on the labour conditions of workers in different industries which manufacture goods or components for the Norwegian market. The organisation investigates conditions in all parts of the supply chains of major brands like H&M, Apple, etc. by gathering comprehensive documentation on the ground. The information is used to raise the awareness of the Norwegian public, and to influence Norwegian politicians and companies to improve working conditions for employees.104

International trade unions

Through their promotion of decent work and workers’ rights, including the right to organise, trade unions have a key role to play in efforts to prevent and combat modern slavery.

The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) regards anti-slavery work as a rights-based and morally important task for trade unions.105 Among other things, ITUC has launched the Migrant Worker Recruiter Platform to protect migrant workers against exploitation.106

In cooperation with ILO, ITUC’s work has helped improve the situation in the construction industry in Qatar, where forced labour was uncovered in connection with construction of the stadiums for the 2022 Football World Cup. The authorities have eliminated the traditional kafala system,107 meaning that some 1.5 million migrant workers are now free to leave Qatar without the permission of their employers.

IndustryALL Global Union represents 50 million workers in the mining, energy and manufacturing sectors, in 140 countries. The union promotes better working conditions and the right to organise, all over the world. Other major international trade unions include the International Union of Food Workers and the Trade Union Congress.

Actors in the business sector

Some 24.8 million persons are currently being subjected to forced labour, with approximately 70% of these working in the private sector.108 Combating forced labour in the supply chains of businesses is crucial for achievement of SDG 8.7. Although businesses play an important role in ensuring that human rights are respected and that supply chains are free of all forms of modern slavery, it is crucial that governments follow equally high standards in public procurement processes. All efforts must be consistent with internationally recognised standards of responsible business conduct, such as the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGP)109 and the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises.110

Large companies have been most prominent in initiatives in this area, and are also most exposed to reputational risk if human rights violations are uncovered in their operations and supply chains. Large companies are also increasingly subject to reporting requirements pursuant to national legislation, such as the UK’s Modern Slavery Act. This act applies to 12 Norwegian companies, including Equinor, DNV GL and Yara.111

Considerable attention has been given to forced labour in global supply chains, but forced labour also occurs in national supply chains in the Global North,112 including in Norway.113

Due diligence assessments
Due diligence assessments are a key process undertaken to assess and manage the risk of forced labour and other human rights violations, both in businesses’ own operations and in supply chains.

Due diligence assessments were introduced as a principle and method in UNGP. In 2018, the OECD adopted its Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Business Conduct, which is in accordance with the UNGP.114 In addition, a practical introduction to this OECD guidance has been prepared in Norwegian.115

A further measure is the preparation of several guides on sector-specific due diligence assessments. Among other things, the OECD has prepared guides on the textiles and shoe industries,116 as well as the mining sector.117 The Business and Human Rights Resource Centre has written a report on due diligence assessments in the textiles industry.118 The German authorities have recently proposed that the EU should make due diligence assessments mandatory in the cocoa industry.119

International initiatives to include anti-slavery work as an aspect of responsible business conduct
While it appears that international efforts to promote responsible business conduct and combat modern slavery have previously been fragmented and characterised by a silo approach, recent years have seen the emergence of new trends, important initiatives and productive collaborations. Some of these developments are undoubtedly linked to legislative advances in this area.

The International Finance Corporation (IFC), DFID and others have recently issued a guide – Managing Risks Associated with Modern Slavery – on how companies and investors can identify and manage modern slavery risk in their operations.120 The OECD has started work on a due diligence guide concentrating on modern slavery, with the working title Using the Due Diligence Guidance to address modern slavery risks. At the UN’s Business and Human Rights Forum in 2018, modern slavery was a topic in several sessions, and the agenda items included recruitment fees and modern slavery in the public procurement context.

ILO is engaged in extensive efforts in this area. It has launched several joint initiatives with the business sector, including the ILO Global Business Network on Forced Labour and the multi-party cooperative project Child Labour Platform, which facilitates experience-sharing in relation to successful measures against child labour in supply chains.121 ILO is chairing the Alliance 8.7 thematic group on supply chains. ILO is also behind several national initiatives, such as the ILO Ship to Shore project – a cooperation initiative involving authorities, civil society and workers which is targeting forced labour and child labour in the fisheries industry in Thailand – and the Clear Cotton project, which aims to stop child labour in Pakistan and West Africa.

In recent years, IOM has launched several initiatives aimed at supporting businesses in combating modern slavery. The Corporate Responsibility in Eliminating Slavery and Trafficking (CREST) programme promotes cooperation with companies and provides guidance on ethical recruitment and due diligence assessments in supply chains. Moreover, in 2018 IOM published a guide for companies detailing their obligation to support and pay compensation to victims of human trafficking in the mining sector – the Remediation Guidelines for Victims of Human Trafficking in Mineral Supply Chains.122

The business sector itself has also established various networks to address modern slavery, such as the UN Global Compact’s Action Platform on Decent Work in Global Supply Chains, Business Against Slavery and the Responsible Business Alliance.

Accountability of companies, industries and sectors
Some sectors present a higher risk of forced labour and child labour than others. The textiles, agriculture, fisheries and electronics sectors are known to present a risk of gross exploitation in connection with the extraction of raw materials and the production of goods. While the primary focus has previously been on products such as chocolate, mobile telephones, clothing, palm oil and foodstuffs, attention is now also being given to areas which are less visible to consumers but nevertheless present a high risk, such as transport, warehousing and logistics linked to the transportation of products.

Sectoral initiatives to promote human rights and combat modern slavery in global supply chains include the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, Clear Cotton, the Seafood Taskforce and the International Cocoa Initiative. Industry initiatives to combat modern slavery include the Consumer Goods Forum, The Electronics Industry Against Forced Labour and the World Travel & Tourism Taskforce against Human Trafficking.

Several companies have successfully made changes in their operations in order to prevent forced labour. One example is Thai Union – the world’s largest supplier of fish, with factories in numerous countries. Following the discovery of forced labour in its operations, the company has implemented a range of measures, including the introduction of independent checks of fishing vessels and the establishment of hotlines which workers can use to report indecent working conditions.123

Apple is another company which has taken steps. With its 2.4 million workers in Asia, this technology giant is exposed to the risk of forced labour in its operations, including through third parties who recruit workers for factories. Apple has adopted a zero tolerance approach to recruitment fees, and to date has reimbursed 34,000 workers124 for paid recruitment fees.

Increasing attention is being focused on the recruitment of workers by intermediaries/agents as an important driver of exploitation. The Institute for Human Rights and Business (IHRB) is a key participant in efforts to highlight this problem and has developed tools for the prevention of unethical recruitment. IHRB has introduced the Employer Pays Principle based on the Dhaka Principles for Migration with Dignity, and has launched the Leadership Group for Responsible Recruitment.125

The organisation Verité has carried out several sector-specific studies concentrating on forced labour in supply chains. Among other things, Verité has prepared risk analyses relating to breach of workers’ rights in the Guatemalan sugar industry, forced labour in the cocoa industry in Côte d'Ivoire, the Ecuadorian palm oil industry and electronics production in Malaysia, as well as studies on the recruitment of migrant workers in Nestlé’s supply chain related to shrimp fishing in Thailand.126 Verité has also issued a product overview identifying goods manufactured using forced labour,127 in addition to an overview of human trafficking risk in supply chains in sub-Saharan Africa.128

There is currently an increasing focus on job creation in development cooperation. Some efforts in this field are also addressing the need to secure decent work and prevent modern slavery – a particular threat to Africa’s large population of young people. An article authored by the World Economic Forum illustrates the importance of innovative thinking with regard to development aid intended to create new jobs in areas where the formal and informal sectors meet. The IFC and CDC have begun to consider such innovative solutions.129

Public procurements
Until recently, relatively little attention has been focused on the responsibility of governments to prevent and combat modern slavery in their public procurement processes, despite the fact that responsible public purchasing can play a major role in preventing modern slavery. The scope of this topic is so broad that it is difficult to address without stronger cooperation between states and businesses. In several countries, the government is the largest purchaser of goods and services. On average, public procurements account for 12% of GDP, and official efforts to prevent and address forced labour in public procurements has a strong potential to reduce the number of persons subjected to forced labour.130 USA, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and the United Kingdom have joined forces to launch the Principles to Guide Government Action to Combat Human Trafficking in Global Supply Chains, with the aim of motivating all countries to develop improved strategies for combating modern slavery in public-private supply chains.131

Recently, the first ever international high-level conference was held which focused exclusively on forced labour in public procurement supply chains.132 The Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) in the UK hosted the conference, together with the OSCE and the countries behind the principles.133

Civil society actors
We have referred to ETI’s international work above. Other international organisations notable for their work on modern slavery issues in the context of responsible business conduct include Shift, the Institute for Human Rights and Business (IHRB) and the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre (BHRRC). Shift works with businesses, authorities, civil society actors and international organisations to implement UNGP. IHRB is an international think tank in the field of business and human rights, and has become a leader on the issues of migration and recruitment – both potential pathways into forced labour. BHRRC is a global hub for information and resources relating to business and human rights. Among other things, it assists local communities and civil society with efforts to persuade companies to accept greater responsibility. It also maintains a register of reports received from companies pursuant to the UK’s Modern Slavery Act.

Financial institutions, pension funds and banks

According to ILO, forced labour in the private economy generates USD 150 billion in profits annually.134 Increasing attention is therefore being given to the important role the financial sector can play in anti-slavery efforts. Financial institutions have the potential to exert great influence in terms of preventing and identifying forced labour, by making loans condition on the completion of necessary due diligence assessments examining modern slavery risk. This is an important measure to prevent money earned through modern slavery from becoming part of the formal economy. This is also linked with the important role of the financial sector in blocking sources of income for and cash flows to criminal networks and terrorist groups which earn money from human trafficking alongside other commercial activities.

Investors can have great influence on the companies in which they invest. They can conduct sectoral and industry due diligence assessments focusing on human rights in general and modern slavery in particular, and they can require companies to have integrated systems and strategies for preventing and uncovering human rights violations such as forced labour in their operations and supply chains. In this way, investors can play a key role in driving change to secure the achievement of SDG 8.7.135

Under the Australian Modern Slavery Act, investors are required to report on what they are doing to prevent modern slavery in their investment portfolios. This is an example of legislation which includes investors in efforts to combat forced labour and other exploitation in global and national supply chains.

A groundbreaking finance-focused initiative has been established in response to calls by the UN Security Council and the financial sector to find the best way to fight modern slavery and human trafficking. The high-level initiative is called the Lichtenstein Initiative for a Financial Sector Commission on Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking, and is a public-private partnership between the authorities in Lichtenstein, Australia and the Netherlands and the UN University, the CDC Group, banks, trade organisations, foundations and other selected actors.136 The commission is to produce principles and a road map showing how the global financial sector can ramp up efforts to combat modern slavery.137 The commission has drafted a briefing paper identifying topics which the commission should address and recommendations on the way forward. The report also comments on the leverage of financial institutions in anti-slavery efforts. (GIEK and the Government Pension Fund Global are among those mentioned.)138

The commission also recognises the importance of economic inclusion of persons at risk of slavery, and of survivors of slavery. In the absence of work, a bank account or access to credit, the risk of re-enslavement is high.

Various useful resources are available on the topic of finance and modern slavery, such as a report issued by the IFC on how the private sector can best manage modern slavery risk.139 

The Financial Action Task Force and the Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering have recently updated their guidance on preventing human trafficking.140 In 2018, the United Kingdom and Canada issued a report for the Financial Action Taskforce which identifies financial flows associated with modern slavery. The report is the result of cooperation with financial institutions, including the Joint Money Laundering and Intelligence Taskforce, and NGOs to identify red flags which banks can use to uncover human trafficking in their databases.


Information and communications technology play a prominent role in the context of modern slavery.141 Technology is being used as a tool for exploiting vulnerable people. Perpetrators are quick to adopt new technology. They publish online jobs advertisements which lure migrant workers into forced labour, they groom young people for sexual exploitation via the internet and they use mobile telephone cameras to monitor and threaten victims.

At the same time, organisations, authorities, research institutions and the private sector are developing new tools and methods to prevent and uncover modern slavery. Blockchain technology can track all links in the production chain of a product, from raw materials extraction to the completed product, and so can contribute to slavery-free supply chains. Digital reporting tools for migrant workers can promote more decent working conditions and prevent employers from switching contracts to lure migrants into exploitative situations. In addition, extensive data-sharing occurs in connection with the investigation, arrest and presentation of evidence against human traffickers.

Technology is an important tool for research in this complex field. For example, creative measures – including satellite technology – are being used to uncover slavery in the south-east Asian brick industry, an industry in which slavery is widespread but the investigation of businesses is complicated by their remote locations.142 Delta 8.7 recently arranged the Code 8.7: Fin Tech conference, at which researchers focusing on modern slavery, technology researchers and organisations came together to discuss measures involving data collection from financial institutions, AI, data compilation, digital mapping, crowdsourcing and other computer technologies.143

Technology was the main topic at the recent Alliance against Trafficking in Persons conference, an annual event hosted by the OSCE for civil society actors and international organisations.144 Exciting public-private collaborations have also been launched, such as the partnership between Coca-Cola, the US Department of State and Blockchain Trust Accelerator, who are developing a pilot project aimed at preventing the switching of migrant workers’ contracts. Thanks to blockchain technology, registered information is permanent and verifiable.145 The private sector is ramping up its engagement, through measures like the Tech Against Trafficking initiative, in which technology companies have conducted a joint survey of existing technological tools in the modern slavery field.146 Approximately 260 different technological solutions have been identified. Some 62% of these solutions are based in the Global North, despite the fact that modern slavery is most prevalent in the Global South.147

There is much activity in the technology field related to modern slavery, necessitating awareness of the limitations of technology. The technical tools which are being launched are of varying quality. In order for a new tool to add value, the context for which it is developed must be understood, such as existing infrastructure in the place where the tool is to be used. Moreover, it should not be assumed that a technological solution which has worked in one context will necessarily have the same effect in a modern slavery context. Various ethical considerations also have to be taken into account when developing digital tools. Technology is an important instrument, but cannot solve a problem as complex as modern slavery on its own.


Data is key to understanding the scope, causes and consequences of modern slavery. A deeper, research-based understanding of the problem can reinforce the impact of efforts to prevent and prosecute, as well as efforts to assist victims of exploitation. Research provides a basis for understanding the different drivers at the individual level, in local communities and at the national level. Such research is needed to facilitate development of a response that is as effective as possible and adapted to the various places all over the world where modern slavery occurs.

The primary need is for data on the scope of the problem, how it manifests itself and in which parts of the world it is most prevalent. The Global Slavery Index provides an overview of how common modern slavery is in the world today and analyses its scale in different regions and countries.148 Further, ILO, IOM and Walk Free have publish a joint global estimate stating that 40.3 million people are currently living in slavery.149

Alongside global and international estimates, national estimates are being developed based on new data processing methods, including the Multiple Systems Estimate (MSE), which has previously been used to estimate deaths in armed conflicts. For example, in 2013 the MSE method was used to estimate that between 10,000 and 13,000 persons were caught in modern slavery in the United Kingdom.150 More countries are expected to start using this method to measure the national scale of modern slavery.151

To date, modern slavery policy has largely been based on studies carried out by civil society actors. While these actors conduct useful and important studies, these studies may have weaknesses because supporting data may be affected by self-interest or a lack of scientific quality. Several stakeholders in this area have mentioned these challenges and have identified a need for future efforts to have a stronger scientific basis if SDG 8.7 is to be achieved.

Delta 8.7 is the global knowledge platform for Alliance 8.7. Delta 8.7 is led by the think tank UN University Centre for Policy Research (UNU-CPR), which is strategically well-place to promote a scientific approach to studies of problem areas relating to modern slavery. UNU-CPR and Delta 8.7 are implementing innovative projects to build a scientific understanding of what is effective in terms of eradicating modern slavery, and to ensure that this knowledge is used to develop new policy. Delta 8.7 is running groundbreaking projects like Code 8.7, in which slavery and technology researchers are conducting joint research into new technological and digital solutions for achieving SDG 8.7. A further project is Develop 8.7, which is working to develop an optimal approach to development projects.

Various researchers are currently studying different aspects of modern slavery and human trafficking,152 and the findings are being published in multi-disciplinary journals.153 Drivers of increased research in this area include efforts to achieve the SDGs, and SDG 8.7 in particular, the development of national legislation in countries like the UK and Australia,154 and increased interest in and a need for improved understanding of the underlying causes of slavery.

The Rights Lab at the University of Nottingham is known for its modern slavery research, and includes a dedicated research hub focusing on modern slavery. The team has extensive experience and broad expertise, and is carrying out innovative research in this field.155 The Rights Lab is a participant in Delta 8.7. The British Academy has recently completed an extensive research programme concentrating on modern slavery, which comprised eight research projects investigating forced labour in global production processes in different countries. The projects were executed by leading academics from various universities in the UK, in cooperation with partners in other countries. The results will be published in the second half of 2019.156 For the past five years, the Freedom Fund has provided research funding for projects aimed at generating knowledge about what ensures sustainable results in the anti-slavery context.

At present, little research into modern slavery is being done in Norway. The research that has been done has in common that the primary focus has been on human trafficking in Norway.157


The media have an important role to play in combating modern slavery. An illustrative example in this regard is a major news story reported in 2014, in which The Guardian uncovered forced labour in the Thai shrimp industry linked to goods imported and sold by major grocery chains like Walmart, Tesco and Aldi.158 The story was the first in a series of revelations regarding inhumane working conditions for migrant workers from Myanmar and other countries in the Thai fisheries industry. These revelations have resulted in various initiatives and measures to counter modern slavery in Asia.159 The Guardian has continued to focus attention on modern slavery in supply chains in different sectors all over the world.

It is also worth noting Repórter Brasil’s efforts over many years to uncover slavery in supply chains, which have helped secure systemic change in Brazil. The Thomson Reuters Foundation makes strategic use of the media to raise awareness among readers, to coordinate civil society actors, authorities, the police and companies, and to improve journalists’ expertise on modern slavery in high-risk countries.160

4. Norway’s contribution

Norway has taken on international commitments to combat and prevent forced labour and human trafficking.

Ratification of and participation in international initiatives

Norway has ratified the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings, and has incorporated ILO’s 2014 Protocol to the Forced Labour Convention into Norwegian law.

Norway has signed up to the international initiative A Call to Action to End Forced Labour, Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking. The planned measures include the development and accelerated implementation of national legislation and working with businesses to eradicate modern slavery in global supply chains and public procurements. Further, Norwegian Prime Minister Solberg recently announced that Norway would be joining Alliance 8.7.161

The Norwegian authorities impose some responsible business conduct requirements. Large companies are required to report on their social responsibility work in their annual reports. In 2017, the Public Procurement Act was supplemented by a new section 5 which incorporated human rights assessments into public procurements. However, studies have shown that only a few institutions impose such qualification requirements.162

Two particularly relevant legislative processes are currently underway in Norway. In 2018, the former Ministry of Children and Gender Equality appointed an ethics information committee with a mandate to assess whether businesses should be required to disclose information on responsible business conduct and supply chain management.163 FIVH, among others, has advocated such an act. The Government has also decided to examine the need for a Norwegian modern slavery act, in response to an initiative launched by the Rafto Foundation and the Human Rights Committee of the Norwegian Bar Association. In 2018, a private member’s motion relating to a modern slavery act was submitted to the Storting (the Norwegian parliament).164

The Government has a national action plan against human trafficking (2016) containing measures designed to combat human trafficking and assist victims of trafficking. The action plan describes a coordinated effort to eradicate human trafficking involving both the authorities and civil society actors. Of particular relevance to the present survey are measures to make Norway a leader in strengthening, coordinating and implementing global and regional anti-trafficking rules, and measures through which Norway is to prevent human trafficking in relevant countries of origin.165

Norway has signed up to the UN Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (2018), the first global inter-governmental document to set out a joint approach covering all aspects of international migration. The Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration provides a framework for further development of the response to migration at all levels, and includes objectives relevant to anti-slavery work.166

Development cooperation initiatives

General support for development cooperation projects and efforts to achieve the SDGs may, in some instances, also constitute support for anti-slavery measures, but it is difficult to conclude in this regard if no details are provided in plans and reports. Norway’s support in fields such as responsible business conduct, decent work, vocational training, vulnerable groups and migration can be particularly significant. However, cooperation in the fields of education, health, gender equality and climate may also be relevant.

Support channelled through UN agencies

Much of the support Norway gives to UN agencies is core support, and thus not earmarked. This makes it difficult to gain an overview of Norway’s actual support for anti-slavery work. Some of the support Norway provides to development cooperation through UN agencies may also play a role in preventing slavery, but this is often not specified at project level or in agency reports.

ILO: Norway supports ILO’s work through mandatory contributions, non-earmarked support for the implementation of ILO’s programme and support for various projects administered by the Ministry, Norwegian embassies or Norad. It is difficult to establish how much of the support channelled through ILO can be reported as support for anti-slavery work.

IOM: Norway supports IOM’s efforts to coordinate the implementation of the measures set out in the UN Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration – particularly measures to reduce irregular migration – and supports anti-human trafficking initiatives through various channels. Of particular note is Norway’s NOK 140 million contribution to the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa (EUTF). Several of these projects which IOM is implementing fall into the category of anti-slavery measures. The fund is intended to support stabilisation and efforts to address the underlying causes of irregular migration from African countries. The objective of the projects is to reduce the risk of, and combat, human trafficking, forced labour and other exploitation of workers.167

UNICEF: Norway is among the largest donors to UNICEF, and some of the support it gives to the organisation can be considered relevant to anti-slavery efforts. This includes both UNICEF’s measures targeting the worst forms of child labour and measures targeting child marriage.

Norway has recently announced a NOK 110 million contribution to the UN’s work to eradicate harmful practices. Some of these funds will support projects focusing on combating child marriage, through a programme administered by UNICEF and UNFPA.168 This UN programme was launched in 2016, and is currently being implemented in 12 countries. It will form part of Norway’s strategy for eradication of harmful practices, which is due to be launched later in 2019.

The support Norway gives to Interpol’s anti-human trafficking initiatives is primarily linked to capacity-building programmes in Libya, Mali, Chad, Sudan, Mauritania and Nigeria.

Sector-specific support

The Fish for Development programme in Norad’s Knowledge Bank is supporting the work done by both UNODC and Interpol to combat illegal fishing and fisheries-related crime, including forced labour. Norway’s support is enabling UNODC to help recipient countries with information campaigns focusing on crime in the fisheries industry supply chain, from hook to plate. The support channelled to UNODC is promoting closer cooperation between different institutions and, additionally, facilitating increased regional coordination – a decisive factor in the fight against fisheries-related crime. The support given to Interpol is helping to expand recipient countries’ capacity to investigate potential crimes and offences in the fisheries sector, including forced labour.169 

Support given through international funds and organisations

In December 2018, Norad signed a three-year agreement with the Global Fund to End Modern Slavery (GFEMS) establishing a total funding commitment of NOK 100 million, including NOK 25 million disbursed in 2018. The funding will finance GFEMS’ initiatives to combat modern slavery. In particular, GFEMS will focus on securing slavery-free supply chains in selected industries and the prevention of modern slavery in connection with migration.

Support given through Norwegian organisations

We refer to chapter 3, which provides an overview of selected Norwegian organisations engaged in projects which may help to combat modern slavery. Most of these organisations receive support from Norad, while others have agreements with the Ministry. The list is not exhaustive.

Support for efforts to promote responsible business conduct and combat modern slavery

Norway is an active participant in international efforts to promote responsible business conduct, in both the UN and the OECD. The Ministry is supporting key international organisations like Shift and the Institute on Human Rights and Business, which are executing projects combating modern slavery.

In addition, Norway is supporting development cooperation projects focused on job creation.

5. Identified gaps – shortcomings in current initiatives

An increasing amount of research is being conducted with a focus on anti-slavery work and effective measures to address modern forms of slavery. This is not only increasing the amount of knowledge available on the topic and improving our understanding of related challenges, but is also leading to growing agreement on deficiencies in current anti-slavery efforts. The most prominent gaps in current efforts identified by this mapping are listed below.

A major challenge is that we do not know how much progress the world has made on achievement of SDG 8.7, or if progress is being made at all. According to the UN University, ODA to combat modern slavery, forced labour, human trafficking and child labour totals approximately USD 400 million a year. The data show that 30 donor countries contributed USD 4 billion in ODA financing between 2000 and 2013.170 Given what we know about the scale of slavery and related prevention and rehabilitation costs, it is clear that current financing of anti-slavery initiatives is insufficient to achieve SDG 8.7. Moreover, a new software tool developed by the UN demonstrates a lack of linkage between places where resources are being invested and places where the needs are the greatest.171

Prevention work targeting modern slavery evidences a link between SDG 8.7 and development efforts focused on achievement of other SDGs, particularly 5.2 (violence against women and girls), 16.2 (violence against children) and 10.7 (migration).

Until now, anti-slavery efforts have, in many countries, been inadequately linked with other relevant work, such as measures relating to business and human rights, efforts to ensure sustainable development, climate-related initiatives and conflict prevention. This silo approach has started to change. This is due, not least, to an increased focus on companies’ responsibility to respect human rights in their own operations and supply chains. In recent years, companies have increasingly become subject to requirements to conduct due diligence assessments and report on the risk of modern slavery. This has put pressure on businesses to incorporate anti-slavery measures into their strategies and operations.

However, much more needs to be done to link anti-slavery work with the promotion of responsible business conduct. Moreover, anti-slavery efforts could also be integrated into other areas of development cooperation, such as humanitarian response, climate-related work and vocational training.

Even though the negative consequences of slavery for individuals, local communities, businesses and national economies are known, anti-slavery thinking is insufficiently well integrated into development cooperation initiatives. While we know that conflict increases vulnerability to enslavement, we do not presently have strategies in place for integrating this insight into projects targeting vulnerable states and conflict-prevention measures. Going forward, there will also be a need for awareness-raising with respect to climate change as a driver of increased vulnerability and migration, and thus a higher risk of modern slavery.

A further gap is a lack of research focused on the supporting data on which current anti-slavery initiatives are based. Although considerable efforts have been made in recent years to strengthen data collection and improve data-sharing, continued support is needed for research aimed at strengthening the knowledge base, so that well-founded policy decisions can be made and new measures can be developed which match the actual situation on the ground.

A recurring topic in our mapping is the lack of accountability of states regarding their efforts to combat modern slavery. Several experts highlighted this as the primary area in which steps need to be taken and in which such steps can make a substantial difference. The gap in efforts in this area is linked to various state responsibilities: to ensure that their own activities and public procurements are free of slavery, to protect against harmful business and other third-party practices, to enforce laws and to provide support to victims of modern slavery.

At present, considerable work is being done to combat forced labour in business supply chains, and numerous organisations are helping businesses to identify and address the risk of human rights violations, including modern slavery. However, a large gap exists in relation to how authorities monitor and set requirements linked to corporate human rights responsibility. States are also falling short as regards due diligence assessments examining the risk of forced labour in public procurement supply chains.

Despite the fact that slavery is illegal and that a large number of people are living in slavery, globally very few persons are convicted of the crime of slavery. Targeted measures are needed to tackle impunity in this area. Many current efforts to combat slavery seek, in various ways, to fill the void left by impunity. Such alternative approaches are particularly important in situations where the state is weak, and will be no less important in areas affected by conflict and climate change in the years ahead.

Based on assessments of the judicial systems of multiple countries, experts from the TIP Office have discovered major deficiencies in victims’ access to these judicial systems. TIP staff have highlighted victim follow-up as one of the largest gaps in current anti-slavery efforts.

It appears to be generally agreed that current anti-slavery measures lack integrated and coherent approaches at both national and local level. During meetings with the UN concerning integrated approaches to anti-slavery work, concern was expressed that many projects are of short duration, despite the fact that a long-term approach is needed to combat modern slavery. Further, there is a tendency for projects to be clustered in the same areas, without coordination of initiatives. Measures targeting mines in DRC were mentioned as an example. There, no systemic change seems to have been achieved due to a lack of an integrated strategy and uncoordinated efforts.172

However, the survey also shows that there are funds and organisations which are adopting an integrated approach in their work. This may be a geographical approach, as in the work of the Freedom Fund, GFEMS and Anti-Slavery International, a sectoral approach like that adopted by the Ethical Trading Initiative in its work or a thematic approach as in IHRB’s work on recruitment. Taking an integrated approach entails considering the system as a whole and involving different societal stakeholders in initiatives. Building partnerships which bring together authorities, business, civil society actors and local communities appears to be the key to achieving positive results.

As the eradication of modern slavery demands systemic changes, it is vital that anti-slavery initiatives have a long-term perspective. Many actors in this area are new, and can therefore naturally only point to limited general results. Nevertheless, some organisations stand out, with the work done by Anti-Slavery International in particular being something others can learn from. Anti-Slavery International was the first anti-slavery organisation, and has been adopting an integrated and long-term approach in selected local communities in various countries for decades.173 Other organisations like Repórter Brasil, Walk Free, the Freedom Fund and Humanity United are also focused on the need for systemic change to combat modern slavery successfully.

The lack of coordination, an integrated approach and a long-term perspective in anti-slavery work in general illustrates the need for an integrated global strategy and stronger strategic coordination of efforts to ensure achievement of SDG 8.7. Future efforts must be measured and evaluated by reference to this standard to a greater degree. The establishment of Alliance 8.7 is an important step towards more strategic planning and coordination of resources at the international level. ILO has informed us that the work of Alliance 8.7 is largely proceeding as planned,174 with the exception of delays to the work of the action groups on conflict and governance, due to a lack of both resources and member state leadership.

The mapping has revealed that much of the research and other work being done with regard to modern slavery is concentrated on Asia. Far less work is being done in African countries, with some exceptions like the mining sector in DRC. Even less information appears to be available on modern slavery in Latin America.

To eradicate modern slavery, it is absolutely crucial that measures focus on both global and national systems and actors. Nevertheless, several central experts we talked to in the course of the survey stated that a larger proportion of efforts must involve grassroots organisations. In their view, too many initiatives targeting high-risk local communities are managed by NGOs based in Europe and the USA. According to these organisations, local ownership is needed to achieve sustainable change. It is also necessary to challenge local social norms which may drive modern slavery and may legitimise exploitation of individuals or groups. Efforts in this area must be based on thorough knowledge of the local culture, and should be implemented in cooperation with local organisations wherever possible. The work of Anti-Slavery International, among others, provides a good example in this regard. Anti-Slavery International assists local organisations with their long-term efforts to change practices like hereditary slavery.

Increasingly, attention is focusing on the fact that anti-slavery projects do not sufficiently involve survivors of slavery. In fact, some projects risk marginalising survivors. Although a trend towards increased involvement of survivors can be observed, there is a need for measures to enable survivors to participate in the development of public anti-modern slavery policy. Survivors are well placed to know what is required to rehabilitate victims and what should be done to prevent others from ending up in modern slavery.

Despite the fact that women and girls make up more than 70% of slavery victims, women appear to be entirely overlooked in many anti-slavery projects. Few of the organisations we met referred explicitly to gender-specific approaches in their work. One of the exceptions is the Freedom Fund, which has launched a targeted initiative to strengthen the participation and influence of women (Freedom Rising).175 

The survey has revealed intensifying efforts to prevent child labour in supply chains (mining, agriculture, fisheries), but far weaker efforts focusing on other services and activities. Child labour in private homes can in many cases be regarded as forced labour, and is one of the worst forms of child labour. Efforts also appear deficient with regard to child soldiers, at the same time as forced recruitment by various militant groups is increasing. Regardless of the type of slavery and drivers involved, a lack of birth registration is a common denominator for many of the children who are most vulnerable to the exercise of force. Several persons we interviewed mentioned this as an area in which far greater efforts are needed.

6. Recommendations on Norwegian efforts to combat modern slavery 

Norad’s recommendations on reinforcement of Norway’s efforts to combat modern slavery are based on the findings in the mapping and identified gaps, as well as the opportunities and potential we see for Norway to add value in this area. We have also sought to identify links with existing, relevant initiatives supported by Norway wherever possible.

General recommendations

Eradicating modern slavery will require cooperation between governments and a range of other actors at country level. There is no “one size fits all” approach to addressing the problem. Various forms of exploitation exist, and each country has its own drivers and challenges. Nevertheless, as the survey shows, there are some important elements which should be reflected in anti-slavery efforts in the development cooperation context.

Norad’s recommendations are intended to prevent the fragmentation of initiatives and silo thinking going forward. This can be achieved by strengthening links between modern slavery and other areas of development cooperation, strengthening links between internationally coordinated development cooperation and efforts at country level, and ensuring that an integrated approach is taken in the context of targeted initiatives at programme level.

Due to the nature of the subject, Norad is recommending that a stronger commitment in this area should include not only targeted projects but also Norwegian participation in internationally coordinated cooperation, integration of modern slavery into relevant development cooperation and research initiatives.

In the context of Norway’s overall commitment, new measures can be coordinated with other relevant development cooperation. Strong links can be built with existing anti-slavery initiatives supported by Norway, such as GFEMS and relevant efforts like Fish for Development in the Knowledge Bank, projects focusing on job creation, decent work and responsible business conduct, cooperation with relevant Norwegian organisations and support for the eradication of harmful practices (including child marriage).

The organisational and administrative model for Norway’s efforts must secure the necessary expertise, resources and long-term perspective needed to ensure that the efforts contribute to achievement of SDG 8.7. In the recommendations below, we refer to different models which we consider to feature the right approach in order for efforts supported by Norway to make a contribution in this area.

As regards the organisation of Norway’s strengthened commitment, we recommend taking a closer look at how other Alliance 8.7 donor countries have organised and administer their anti-slavery work, including with respect to international coordination in this field.

Recommendations related to international cooperation

These recommendations concern international cooperation to coordinate the fight against modern slavery, which Norad considers it important for Norway to be engaged in. Participation in these international initiatives is relevant to efforts at the regional, national and local levels.

Alliance 8.7 is the first international initiative aimed at coordination of global efforts to combat modern slavery. The alliance currently comprises 217 partner organisations, 15 pathfinder countries and eight so-called supporting countries, including Norway, which recently signed up. To promote international coordination and multi-stakeholder engagement, Norad is recommending that Norway should participate actively in and make financial contributions to the work of Alliance 8.7. This will allow Norway to ensure close cooperation and coordination with other donor countries and UN agencies with a clear commitment in this area. Norad’s recommendation is that support should be channelled into both work with pathfinder countries (see the discussion below regarding cooperation with partner countries) and the work of the Action Group on conflict and humanitarian settings, which currently lacks financing and leadership by donor countries.

By taking the initiative in the conflict group of Alliance 8.7, Norway can help focus attention on modern slavery in conflict areas, and incorporate a conflict perspective into anti-slavery work. Norway can add value in this area thanks to its extensive humanitarian engagement, its peace and reconciliation work and global commitment to the women, peace and security agenda, and its intensified focus on the most vulnerable groups. The conflict group is composed of partners from UN agencies, civil society actors, states, academics and think tanks, all working together to develop a strategy and work programme to be implemented at national, regional and global level to combat conflict-related modern slavery, within the framework of SDG 8.7. This group should be activated to accelerate efforts targeting particularly vulnerable groups, such as child slaves in the mining sector in DRC and child soldiers in East Africa, as well as recruitment of ethnic minorities from Myanmar into forced labour.

Financial Sector Commission on Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking (the Liechtenstein Initiative): Globally, increasing attention is being paid to the efforts of financial institutions to promote responsible business conduct and combat modern slavery, due to the financial sector’s great potential influence in this area. This influence arises because much economic activity and many financial flows involving the financial sector may have some connection with modern slavery-related crime. We recommend that Norway support implementation of the groundbreaking work done by the Financial Sector Commission. Liechtenstein, Australia and the Netherlands have participated in the Commission’s work together with other key actors from the financial sector, among others. A recommendation is that Norway can provide financial support for phase 2 of the work (18–24 months) of the Commission, which is scheduled to start in October 2019. Phase 2 involves implementation of principles and roadmaps developed in phase 1. Banks, financial institutions and development-focused state investment funds will participate in the follow-up phase. The latter group offers an opportunity for Norfund to become involved in modern slavery issues.

Partnership to promote the Four Principles to Guide Government Action to Combat Human Trafficking in Global Supply Chains: As part of implementing the Call to Action to End Forced Labour, Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking, we propose that Norway should join this partnership with USA, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and the United Kingdom. The four principles mentioned above cover public procurements, fair recruitment, cooperation with the business sector and harmonisation of legislation. The partnership’s objective is that all countries should develop improved strategies for combating modern slavery in public-private supply chains.

Participation in donor coordination: We recommend that Norway should become an active participant in donor coordination efforts in the context of Alliance 8.7 and other relevant forums. In particular, we recommend closer coordination focused on modern slavery between the Ministry/Norad, DFID and the US Department of State, going beyond the scope of existing cooperation linked to GFEMS.

Recommendations related to research

Delta 8.7 is the leading knowledge platform related to slavery, and is focused on linking research on this topic with policy development and work on the ground. Norad recommends giving core support to Delta 8.7, which currently only receives core support from the UK. While Delta 8.7 will be best placed to know in which areas the need for funding is greatest, Norway will be able to suggest a focus area in which there currently is a lack of research and in which gaps have been identified. For example, consideration could be given to a research project modelled on Code 8.7, i.e. a Climate 8.7 initiative which links the expertise of climate researchers with that of modern slavery researchers to improve our understanding of the links between climate change and modern slavery.

Establishment of a Norwegian research programme: We recommend that consideration be given to establishing a Norwegian modern slavery research programme, as an instrument for financing policy-focused research into SDG 8.7 and strategies for Norwegian development cooperation. The programme should produce evidence-based research to strengthen Norway’s anti-slavery efforts, utilise the expertise of Norwegian researchers in different fields and improve Norwegian society’s knowledge of modern slavery. We propose using a model similar to that used by the British Academy, namely a two-year programme supported by DFID. The work should be based on a gap analysis examining what research is needed and where the research can add value internationally. Such a programme could, for example, be assigned to Norglobal.

Recommendations linked to Norway’s thematic priorities

Below, Norad has identified a number of potential thematic areas with a need for additional support.

Support the efforts of Norway’s partner countries to promote SDG 8.7
As this report shows, there are large gaps in states’ implementation of international commitments and national legislation, and there is a need for technical assistance and other cooperation in order for countries to achieve SDG 8.7.

Norad is recommending that Norway strengthen its political dialogue with partner countries concerning ratification and implementation of ILO core conventions. A further recommendation is to initiate cooperation with selected partner countries on technical assistance and anti-slavery measures. A possible initial step is to support ILO/Alliance 8.7’s provision of technical assistance to pathfinder countries, through Norway’s involvement in the Alliance 8.7. At present, five of Norway’s partner countries are pathfinder countries: Malawi, Nepal, Nigeria, Sri Lanka and Uganda. These countries face varying challenges with respect to modern slavery. As a second step, Norway can encourage other partner countries to become Alliance 8.7 pathfinder countries. Countries like Myanmar and Ethiopia could be candidates in this regard, with potential for cooperation on issues like decent work and responsibility in supply chains.

Support for birth registration to prevent child labour
Children make up approximately 25% of all slavery victims. The survey shows that much work is being done to combat the involvement of children in forced labour and child marriage. UNICEF is executing important projects in this area. The United Kingdom and the Netherlands are spearheading work on this topic among bilateral donors.

According to UNICEF, more than 230 million children (2014 figures) lack a birth certificate, and are thus invisible to national and local authorities. A large proportion of child victims of modern slavery have not been registered at birth. Birth registration can have a preventive effect with respect to several forms of modern slavery. Norad’s recommendation is that Norway could assume a more active role in birth registration and digital ID initiatives going forward. Such a priority could also be linked with Norway’s work on the use of digitalisation as a development cooperation instrument.

Some work is already being done in the area of birth registration, initiated and driven forward by individual states or by the UN and donor countries. The first step should be to conduct a mapping of what is currently being done and where the greatest needs are, before pursuing coordination with other donors like DFID, which is already supporting UNICEF’s work related to digital birth registration. UNICEF is engaged in projects concentrating on children at risk of slavery in Pakistan, Ethiopia, Somalia and Sudan. Our recommendation is to initiate dialogue with UNICEF and other stakeholders regarding opportunities for cooperation in countries where few children are registered at birth and where the risk of subjection to the worst forms of child labour is particularly high. A further possibility is to investigate opportunities to incorporate a birth registration initiative into existing agreements between Norway and ILO. Work related to birth registration should be coordinated with Alliance 8.7.

A Norwegian initiative to promote birth registration as a measure to prevent modern slavery could also benefit from the work done on register cooperation in the context of Norad’s Knowledge Bank. In this regard, Norad has signed an agreement with Statistics Norway, which has extensive experience in this area. A further possibility is public-private cooperation with the private sector.

Strengthening the links between modern slavery and responsible business conduct:
At least 24.9 million persons are currently being subjected to forced labour, and approximately 70% of these individuals are working in the private sector. Combating forced labour in commercial operations and supply chains is absolutely vital to achievement of SDG 8.7. Norway has taken the lead in initiatives related to business and human rights in the UN, and has played an active role in the OECD. This puts Norway in a position to promote integration of modern slavery issues into the work being done on responsible business conduct. This can also raise Norway’s profile in the area of business and human rights.

We recommend that consideration be given to how efforts to combat modern slavery should be incorporated into the Ministry’s follow-up plan for the evaluation of UNGP in Norwegian development cooperation (2018/19), and into Norway’s National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights (2015), whenever it is revised.

The OECD plans to start work on guidance on due diligence assessments related to modern slavery. As far as we are aware, no funding has yet been provided for this study, and Norway could consider providing support. We recommend that the study be considered in conjunction with the Managing Risks Associated with Modern Slavery guide prepared by the CDC Group, IFC, EIT and DFID in relation to private sector investments.

Job creation is already a priority in Norway’s development cooperation. A focus on ensuring that new job opportunities include decent working conditions will help to integrate anti-slavery efforts into job-creation projects.

Proposals for initiatives targeting selected sectors and countries

The recommendations below show that approaches must be adapted in light of the various challenges which different sectors present. At the country level, it will be most sustainable to support initiatives that adopt an integrated and comprehensive approach, for example under a hotspot model. The choice of specific partners for such initiatives must be made based on the cumulative experience gained in these sectors and countries. In several countries, local and national organisations are engaged in important anti-slavery efforts or other relevant work. It will be important to identify such organisations once Norway has selected its priority countries.

Combating modern slavery in the fisheries sector
The survey shows that migrant workers are particularly vulnerable to forced labour in the fisheries sector. At the same time, eradicating exploitation is particularly difficult in this sector due to its global nature and the fact that modern slavery is linked with other criminal activity. The mapping has also revealed that most anti-slavery efforts in the fisheries sector have concentrated on Asian countries. ILO possesses valuable knowledge of the African fisheries sector, although UNODC and Interpol, among others, also have important knowledge. To address the global challenges presented by the fisheries sector, ILO has developed a five-year integrated programme – the Global Action Programme against forced labour and trafficking of fishers at sea (GAPfish) – to tackle the various pathways into modern slavery in the fisheries sector. The main objective of the programme is to protect the rights of migrant fishers at different stages (during recruitment, during work aboard fishing vessels, in transit-country ports, in flag states and in countries where fish are processed). Norad recommends that consideration be given to supporting this global programme as part of Norway’s anti-slavery efforts. Among other things, an expert assessment should be conducted of the programme document.

In addition to working globally in accordance with a coordinated strategy, it is also important to support national and regional efforts. This report has identified a major gap in knowledge regarding the prevalence of modern slavery in African countries, including in the fisheries sector. ILO has already identified so-called entry point countries as part of the Global Action Programme. These countries include Ghana and Madagascar, where different partners will be recruited to help combat recruitment for forced labour in the fisheries sector. Norad recommends initiating dialogue with ILO on the selection of countries and organisation of work in hotspot areas.

Support for the ILO Global Action Programme can be regarded as the human rights component of the Fish for Development programme in Norad’s Knowledge Bank. Support for the Global Action Programme can also be regarded as an investment in sustainable fishing and the fight against environmental crime. Efforts to combat modern slavery in the fisheries sector will also be positive for responsible fisheries operators who provide decent working conditions. The use of forced labour in the fisheries sector creates competitive imbalances which also affect the Norwegian fisheries industry in a negative way.

Combating modern slavery in the agricultural sector
The agricultural industry is a high-risk sector in terms of forced labour and child labour. At present, 70% of all child labour is linked to agriculture, and child labour is most prevalent in Africa. At the same time, African countries are experiencing increasing agricultural industrialisation. While much is being done to combat modern slavery, it remains a widespread problem, due not least to poverty in agricultural areas, irresponsible business conduct and migration. Climate change and conflicts in various countries are also having an impact on working conditions in the sector.

An integrated approach must be taken in efforts to identify, deal with and prevent forced labour and child labour. This requires cooperation which includes local authorities, businesses, trade organisations, trade unions, local communities and civil society actors. To effect change, local capacity needs to be built in accordance with the hotspot model, in selected partner countries such as Uganda (rice, coffee, sugar, tea, tobacco, vanilla and cattle), Malawi (tea) and Ethiopia (cattle). Consideration should also be given to opportunities for providing vocational training and the creation of decent jobs. It is important to incorporate the gender perspective into this work.

Any investment in this area, and the choice of target countries, should be coordinated with other Alliance 8.7 donor countries which are already engaged in agriculture-related initiatives. The United Kingdom and the Netherlands are particularly relevant in this regard, as both countries are escalating their efforts to combat child labour in the agricultural sectors of various African countries.

Efforts in this area supported by Norway could be linked with initiatives under the new Norwegian action plan “Food, People and the Environment” (2019).

Combating modern slavery in the mining sector
The mining sector is associated with a high risk of slavery and child labour, with gross exploitation being uncovered at mines in countries including India, Ghana and DRC. More than 60% of the world’s cobalt is extracted in DRC’s copper belt, which lacks regulation and official supervision in several conflict areas. Children and adults are working under inhumane conditions in extremely dangerous surroundings, and are suffering gross exploitation. Poverty is widespread in DRC, which is also home to one of the world’s largest populations of internally displaced persons as a result of instability created by decades of conflict. While isolated and fragmented anti-slavery initiatives are being pursued in the DRC mining sector, Norad sees a need for a more comprehensive and coordinated strategy and efforts to drive forward systemic change with regard to the conflict situation and slavery in mines in the country.

Above, Norad has recommended that Norway should initiate dialogue with ILO with the aim of taking on an active role in the Alliance 8.7 Action Group on Conflict and Humanitarian Settings. The conflict group currently has a need for donor countries and states to become involved and contribute resources. By participating in this work, Norway could help focus attention on modern slavery in conflict areas, and support efforts to assist particularly vulnerable groups. In order to combat forced labour and child labour in the mining sector, these efforts should follow an integrated, long-term approach incorporating specific measures – both preventive and concentrating on protection and compensation. The measures should be implemented at the local community level, the national level and in relation to global supply chains. These efforts will benefit from the cumulative experience, expertise, knowledge and leverage of different Alliance 8.7 partners, including in the Alliance’s other thematic action groups.

Recommendation to develop a strategy document

The mapping has shown that donor countries have benefited greatly from overarching strategies in their efforts to combat modern slavery. In addition, clear links have been identified between the development of national legislation, international efforts and participation in relevant multi-partner initiatives. The new legislation currently being considered in Norway will provide an important framework for Norway’s anti-slavery efforts overall.

Norad recommends that consideration be given to whether Norway’s anti-slavery work should be organised and administered as a comprehensive initiative or a concrete programme. A further recommendation is to prepare a strategy document for Norway’s overall efforts in this area. The strategy should encompass normative work, international cooperation, targeted and integrated development cooperation efforts, research and skills-building within the Ministry/Norad/Norwegian embassies.

Norad also recommends revision of the 2016 National Action Plan against Human Trafficking to align it with applicable standards and developments in this area.