Forced labour - an introduction

Below are select introductory materials on business and forced labour.  Further reports from a wide range of sources are in the "Forced labour" section of our site.

Key international standards

Universal Declaration of Human Rights: articles 4, 23.1

International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights: article 8

International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights: article 6.1

International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention 29: Convention Concerning Forced or Compulsory Labour

ILO Convention 105: Convention Concerning the Abolition of Forced Labour

ILO Convention 182: Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention

ILO Declaration on Fundamental Rights and Principles at Work: article 2

Slavery, Servitude, Forced Labour and Similar Institutions and Practices Convention of 1926

Supplementary Convention on the Abolition of Slavery, the Slave Trade, and Institutions and Practices

Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography

Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons Especially Women and Children, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime

International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families: article 11

Key reports & guidance

The Human Rights and Business Pages: Forced Labour [PDF], Amnesty Intl. Netherlands, Feb 2006

Combating forced labour: A handbook for employers and business, ILO, 2008

Forced labour, UN Global Compact - Human Rights Dilemmas Forum

Why Is Forced Labour My Business?, Anti-Slavery Intl.

IOE/ILO Regional Workshop on addressing forced labour: the role of employers' organizations and business, and related materials, Bangkok, 30 Jun- 1 Jul 2008

The Secret World of Modern Slavery [PDF], Michael Smith & David Voreacos, Bloomberg Markets, Dec 2006

Concerns, company responses & non-responses

The Resource Centre invites companies to respond to allegations of misconduct.  Below are examples of allegations and company responses regarding forced labour.  We also indicate when a company has not responded.

Angola: Security companies for diamond mining operations in Cuango responsible for killings, torture, beatings & other abuses, says report, Sep 2006.  Response from ENDIAMA (Empresa Nacional de Diamantes de Angola), ITM Mining, Lazare Kaplan, Lev Leviev Group, Odebrecht.

Argentina: Allegations that Argentinean clothing brands sourcing from clandestine factories where Bolivians work in “slave-like conditions”, May 2006.  Response from Graciella Naum, Olga Naum. No response received from Montagne

Burma: Tiffany resumes buying gems mined in Burma, Professional Jeweller magazine reports, Feb 2005.  Response from Tiffany. [following our Update it re-imposed the moratorium on gemstones from Burma]

Burma:Total’s presence in Burma fuelling human rights abuses, says new report – 40 organisations in 18 countries call on Total to quit the country, Feb 2005.  Response from Total.

Burma: Burma Campaign UK adds 30 firms to "Dirty List", including Lotus Travel Service, Jan 2009.  Responses from Djoser Reisen, Electric Power Development Company (EPDC), OrkideExpressen, Regent Holidays, Shellseekers, SpiceRoads, Studiosus, TUI, UMW Holdings. No responses received from Asiana, China Gezhouba Group Co. (CGGC), China Hydropower Engineering Group Co. (CHECC), China National Electric Equipment Co., Exotissimo, Export-Import Bank of China (China Exim Bank), First Cabin, Gaffney Cline & Associates, Grand Circle Travels, Hunan Savoo Overseas Water & Electric Engineering Co., Kansai Electric Power Co (KEPCO), Kunming Hydroelectric Investigation, Lotus Travel Service, Malcolm Dunstan & Associates (MD&A) British, National Hydroelectric Power Corporation, Nobel Oil, Sputnik Petroleum, Wendy Wu Tours, Yunnan Machinery Equipment Import & Export Co. (YMEC), Yunnan Power Grid Co.

Burma: Two EarthRights reports accuse Chevron & Total's Yadana pipeline of links to forced labour & killings, undermining sanctions; also cites banks OCBC, DBS, Sep 2009. Responses from Chevron, DBS, OCBC, Total.

India: Over 400,000 children working in India's cottonseed fields - often bonded labour, Sep 2007.  Responses from Bayer CropScience, Monsanto.

Jordan: Human trafficking & wide range of abuses at Mediterranean Resources, according to US-based National Labor Committee - supplies Hanesbrands, Wal-Mart, Sep 2008.  Responses from Hanesbrands, Mediterranean Resources Apparel Industry, Wal-Mart.

Papua New Guinea: Dangerous working conditions and sub-standard housing for loggers, according to PNG MP & Labour Department official, Mar 2006.  Response from Rimbunan Hijau.

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10 September 2009

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Author: Simon Roughneen, Irrawaddy [Thailand]

...[On] Thursday, Earthrights International (ERI) launched two reports alleging that...Total and Chevron are linked to “forced labor, killings, high-level corruption and authoritarianism” in Burma. The reports...examine how revenue from the Yadana gas...

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LexisNexis joins fight against human trafficking [USA]

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12 November 2008

Yahoo-Sponsored Chinese Human Rights Museum Opens in Washington

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On Wednesday, the Laogai Museum will open on M Street in Washington, D.C. Run by expatriate Chinese dissident Harry Wu, the museum documents forced labor camps called laogai through photographs, government papers and prisoner uniforms.…The museum is...

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6 September 2008

Human Trafficking and Abusive Conditions at the Mediterranean Garments Factory in the Ad Dulayl Industrial Zone in Jordan

Author: National Labor Committee [USA]

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25 September 2007

Child bondage continues in Indian cotton supply chain

Author: India Committee of the Netherlands

More than 416.000 children under the age of 18, of which almost 225.000 younger than 14, are involved in (often bonded) child labour in India’s cottonseed fields. Most of them are girls. They work in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Karnataka and...

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22 November 2006

CVRD Won't Sell Iron Ore to Producers That Allow Slave Labor [Brazil]

Author: Michael Smith & David Voreacos, Bloomberg

Cia. Vale do Rio Doce [CVRD], the world's largest iron ore producer, said it would stop selling ore to pig iron companies suspected of using materials made by slaves in Brazil. “I am not interested in supplying anyone who doesn’t respect the law,” Cia....

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5 July 2006

[PDF] Human trafficking and Manpower

Author: Richard Welford, CSR Asia

...David Arkless, Senior Vice President for Corporate Affairs from Manpower...began his talk with the story of a 12-year-old girl...who was brought to India from Nepal...[and] forced...into a New Delhi brothel...These sorts of stories are not uncommon...

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6 April 2006

Bolivian Community Divided Over Sweatshops [Argentina]

Author: Marcela Valente, IPS

The Buenos Aires city government's new offensive against slave labour has resulted in the closure of 30 clandestine textile sweatshops in the Argentine capital...Minister...Rodríguez said that 30 out of 54 workshops inspected this week were closed, due...

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8 March 2005

Tiffany Says No to Burma's "Blood Gems" - Activists Hail "Principled Position" of World's Most Famous Jeweler, Call for Americans to Boycott Companies Selling Burmese Gems

Author: US Campaign for Burma

"Tiffany's deserves our praise and patronage for...[refusing to sell gems mined in Burma]," said Aung Din, co-founder of USCB who spent over 4 years behind bars as a political prisoner. "Mining in Burma supports the ruling dictators while bleeding the...

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