Corruption and Contemporary Forms of Slavery
Everyone has the right to a life free from slavery, but today, over 40 million people are estimated to be trapped in contemporary forms of slavery such as forced labour, debt bondage, serfdom, children working in slavery or slavery-like conditions, domestic servitude, sexual slavery, and servile forms of marriage. According to global estimates, one in four victims of contemporary forms of slavery are children and 71 per cent of victims are women and girls.
The risks of exploitation are magnified as the world experiences the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on society, the economy and governance institutions. As warned by the UN Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery, millions of people could be pushed into contemporary forms of slavery and other forms of exploitation during the COVID-19 pandemic.2 Those who are already marginalized, discriminated against, or impoverished are at the greatest risk.
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development envisions a world free of forced labour, contemporary forms of slavery, human trafficking, and child labour in all its forms. In particular, Target 7 of SDG 8 urges to “Take 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.”
While a complex range of factors result in a demand for modern slaves, corruption can play a determining and enabling role. Indeed, many contemporary forms of slavery rely on corruption to operate, as corruption often facilitates exploitation and abuse. Most importantly, Sarah Lister Head of Governance Bureau for Policy and Programme Support United Nations Development Programme Martin Frick Director Office for Foreign Affairs Principality of Liechtenstein corruption and contemporary forms of slavery both thrive in social, political and economic environments that allow perpetrators to act with impunity.
Corruption and Contemporary Forms of Slavery: Examining Relationships and Addressing Policy Gaps offers an in-depth examination of the linkages between corruption and contemporary forms of slavery and offers policy recommendations for governments, the private sector, civil society, academia and the international community to inform policy and programmatic work on anti-corruption and human rights efforts.
Given the multi-dimensional nature of the problem, a comprehensive approach is needed to tackle the linkages between corruption and slavery. This includes the effective enforcement of international conventions and national laws, but also preventive measures such as strengthening social protection, promoting inclusion, and ensuring economic and social justice for those vulnerable to slavery. A multi-stakeholder approach is also vital to eliminate risks of contemporary forms of slavery across sectors and global supply chains, including slavery-related money laundering and financing risks.
We hope that this publication will contribute to the global discourse on both corruption and contemporary forms of slavery