News / Economy

ILO Delegates Approve Landmark Global Pact to Prevent Forced Labor

FILE - A female migrant construction worker is seen at a building site in Shanghai, China, July 2, 2013.
FILE - A female migrant construction worker is seen at a building site in Shanghai, China, July 2, 2013.
Lisa Schlein
— A new global treaty to tackle modern forms of forced labor has been overwhelmingly approved by 177 member states attending the annual International Labor Conference (ILO) in Geneva. One country voted against, and seven abstained.

The treaty spells out ways to prevent, protect and compensate victims of forced labor. 
 
The International Labor Organization estimates 21 million men, women, and children around the world are in forced labor, an illegal enterprise that generates about $150 billion a year.
 
The ILO adopted two Conventions on Forced Labor, in 1930 and 1957.  The new protocol brings these two outdated Conventions into the 21st century. 
 
International Labor Committee on Forced Labor President David Garner says the treaty focuses on contemporary forms of slavery.  It tackles practices such as human trafficking.

“I think the key aspects are that it calls on member states to give effect to their obligation to suppress forced labor as enshrined in Convention 29 - by strengthening in particular prevention and protection measures, by enabling victims to access remedies, such as compensation and to sanction the perpetrators of forced or compulsory labor," he said. "There was also consensus within the committee that the punishment of offenders is important, but it is also equally important to ensure that the rights of victims are protected.” 
 
The ILO says victims of forced labor often are treated like criminals instead of people in need of assistance.  The head of the ILO’s special action program on forced labor, Beate Andrees, says the new protocol remedies this injustice.
 
“There is one important provision now in the protocol to protect victims from being punished for criminal activities they may have been forced to carry out while they were in forced labor.  Some victims, for instance, are forced to plant drugs or to traffic drugs,” Andrees said..

The ILO estimates 55 percent of forced labor victims are female, 45 percent are male, and 26 percent are children.  Victims may be in bonded labor or working under slave-like conditions in a wide range of industries. 
 
The ILO says women and girls are primarily forced into domestic work and commercial sexual exploitation, while men and boys are in forced economic exploitation in agriculture, construction, and mining.  It says many work long hours, often for little or no pay.
 
Two states must ratify the protocol for it to go into force and individual governments must ratify the new protocol to become legally bound by its provisions.

Thailand reportedly voted against the treaty while Bahrain, Brunei, Iran, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Yemen abstained.

You May Like

Video China Investigates Powerful Former Security Chief

Analysts say move by President Xi is an effort to win more party support, take step toward economic reforms, removing those who would stand in way of change More

South Africa Land Reforms Still Contentious 20 Years Later

Activists argue that the pace of land reform is slow and biased; legal experts question how some proposed reforms would be implemented More

In Vietnam, Religious Freedoms Violated, UN Finds

Beliefs reportedly prompt heavy surveillance, intimidation and travel restrictions More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelteri
X
Scott Bobb
July 30, 2014 8:16 PM
Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video A Summer Camp for All the World

VIDEO: During workshops and social gatherings, the Global Youth Village summer camp encourages young people to cooperate and embrace their differences, while learning to communicate with people from other countries. VOA's Deborah Block has more.
Video

Video From Cantankerous Warlock to Incorruptible Priest, 'Harry Potter' Actor Embraces Diverse Roles

He’s perhaps best known as Mad Eye Moody, the whimsical wizard in the Harry Potter franchise. But character actor Brendan Gleeson's resume includes dozens of films, and he embraces all the characters he inhabits with equal passion. In an interview with VOA’s Penelope Poulou, Gleeson discussed his new drama "Calvary" and his secret to success.

AppleAndroid

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.7305
JPY
USD
101.53
GBP
USD
0.5830
CAD
USD
1.0656
INR
USD
60.075

Rates may not be current.