Beate Andrees is Head of ILO’s Special Action Programme to Combat Forced Labour.
At the International Labour Conference in June this year, governments, workers and employers adopted a new Protocol against forced labour, supplemented by a Recommendation, which has been hailed around the world as a landmark treaty to protect human rights. The new instruments received overwhelming support from governments, workers and employers with 437 votes in favour, and only a handful of abstentions or votes against.
The Protocol builds on one of the oldest and widely ratified ILO conventions, the Forced Labour Convention (No. 29), which was passed in 1930. The initial aim of Convention 29 was to progressively abolish forced labour in colonial territories. As a result, it allowed for a transition period during which states could still make limited use of forced labour.
When my plane landed in Cuiabá, the Southern Gate to the Brazilian Amazon, the heat almost took my breath away. My first stop was a major construction site where a new stadium is being built for the 2014 World Cup. During the following hours I learned about a fascinating initiative to prevent modern forms of slavery.
The idea of the project is simple but effective: workers who have been rescued from what is called “slave labour” in Brazil, or who are at risk of falling prey to exploitative labour practices, are offered a six-month vocational training course. Once they’ve completed the course, most of them are hired by companies under decent conditions of employment. The company building the stadium for the World cup is one of them.
By Beate Andrees, Head of the ILO’s Special Action Programme to Combat Forced Labour
There are an estimated 21 million forced labour victims in the world today.
Beate Andrees, Head of the ILO’s Special Action Programme to Combat Forced Labour, shares her insights about modern day slavery and her experience working on the issue.
Join the ILO’s new campaign to End Slavery Now!
End Slavery Now!