From ground-breaking research and new technological tools to advocacy and addressing the changing regulatory landscape in 2016, Verité continues to be at the forefront of fighting forced labor, human trafficking, and unsafe labor conditions worldwide. Read below for some highlights of our work from 2016.
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In collaboration with The Freedom Fund, Verité published: An Exploratory Study on the Role of Corruption in International Labor Migration, a project that examined three illustrative transnational migrant worker recruitment corridors – Nepal to Qatar, Myanmar to Malaysia, and Myanmar to Thailand – to identify the points in the recruitment process where bribes or illicit payments are solicited and paid; the entities implicated; the range and nature of such payments; and the corresponding benefit that accrues to the employers of migrant workers.
Verité’s report: Strengthening Protections Against Trafficking in Persons in Federal and Corporate Supply Chains, presents narratives on 43 of the world’s most important primary commodities and eleven major sectors, providing background on the production patterns and labor practices involved in the specific industry in question and describes the connection, if any, between the commodity or sector and forced labor and/or child labor.
Based on desk and field research in Latin America, two reports: Labor and Human Rights Risk Analysis of Ecuador’s Palm Oil Sector and The Nexus of Illegal Gold Mining and Human Trafficking in Global Supply Chains, highlight forced labor and human rights risks in the gold and palm oil sectors.
2016 saw the launch of two important technological tools in the fight for fair, safe, and legal working conditions. MyLaborMatters, generously funded by The Walt Disney Company, links migrating and returning workers with each other and with a network of supporting NGOs and other resources in Japan and the Philippines via a website, hotline, social media campaign, videos, and online trainings.
With the support of the State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, we launched the Responsible Sourcing Tool, a web platform providing companies, federal contractors, federal procurement and contracting professionals, advocates, investors, and consumers with a comprehensive assessment of country- and industry-based risks of human trafficking and forced labor and a suite of tools and resources to address those risks and comply with the Federal Acquisition Regulation anti-trafficking rules that governs the process by which executive agencies of the United States federal government acquire goods and services.
In addition to offering dozens of bespoke company trainings in 2016, Verité continues to offer to the public the EICC Labor & Ethics Lead Auditor Course – the IRCA-approved course for EICC auditor certification with online and in-person modules.
The emergence of new laws related to forced labor and human trafficking have increased the demand for Verité trainings for buyers and for social compliance auditors. The UK Modern Slavery Act 2015 requires that companies raise the internal awareness and skills needed to address the risk of forced labor, which affects approximately 21 million workers globally today. Verité conducted two highly successful trainings with that objective in Hong Kong in the fall.
The Leadership Group for Responsible Recruitment formally launched in London in May. Convened by the Institute for Human Rights and Business (IHRB), the Leadership Group was founded by companies and institutions that include Coca-Cola, HP Inc., Hewlett Packard Enterprise, IKEA, Unilever, the Interfaith Center for Corporate Responsibility, International Organization for Migration, and Verité. Labor recruitment fees charged to vulnerable workers are a major contributing factor to forced labor in global supply chains and the Leadership Group is working to eradicate the charging of recruitment fees to workers within a decade across all industries and geographies.
KnowTheChain provides resources to companies and investors to better understand the forced labor risks in their supply chains and portfolios. A project of Humanity United and maintained in partnership with the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre, Sustainalytics, and Verité, in 2016 KnowTheChain released three benchmarks focused on the following sectors: Information & Communications Technology, Food & Beverage, and Apparel & Footwear that evaluate and rank companies across seven themes related to labor standards.
This fall, Verité took another step to advance understanding and good practice on the issue. In partnership with the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Trafficking, we convened a first-of-its-kind workshop with social auditors at the United Nations in New York.
In addition, with our advocacy partners, Verité helped influence the passage of the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act, a bipartisan measure to strengthen federal prohibition of the importation of goods made with forced labor. Furthermore, Verité’s expertise on forced labor in global supply chains has been tapped by various government officials charged with enforcing or overseeing this law.
Responding to the challenge of imminent change in US federal policy on guest worker visa programs and other immigration matters, Verité co-sponsored a workshop with EILEEN FISHER in early November on these issues to bring together companies and leading civil society and policy experts to learn from each other and explore cooperative efforts to advocate for sound reform that protects workers.
2017 promises to be as exciting a year as 2016. Please DONATE NOW.