During the last week of November, more than 2,000 people met in Geneva for the largest annual gathering on business and human rights. For years, Verité has actively participated in this busy week of learning and sharing, along with participants from government, business, civil society, law firms, investor organizations, trade unions, academia and the media, among others. Shawn MacDonald, CEO of Verité, and Elizabeth Garland, Senior Director of Verité’s Raw Materials Program, attended the forum this year and shared Verité’s work in a range of meetings and venues.
A core element of Verité’s mission is to engage substantively with a full range of entities, organizations, and institutions, sharing insights and information to strengthen labor compliance internationally. Verité employees regularly participate in conferences, panels and roundtables, contributing to work on policy, developing new programs, and educating on labor rights abuses. This article presents a selection of events some of our employees have attended over the past six months.
The most significant contributor to the ongoing presence of debt bondage or forced labor in global supply chains is the burden of recruitment fees and expenses on migrant workers. Many employers and recruiters in high risk global supply chains build business models on charging unskilled and low-skilled workers fees for employment. Specifically, employers pay no or insufficient professional service fees to the recruitment agents they engage to find them workers. Rather, they knowingly allow agents to recoup revenue and the significant legitimate expenses associated with international labor migration—such as government approvals and travel costs—from the workers themselves.
In September, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) released two new reports on child labor and forced labor around the world: the eighth edition of the List of Goods Produced by Child Labor or Forced Labor and the 17th annual edition of the Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor.
“These reports represent one of the Department of Labor’s key contributions to the global effort to protect workers in the United States and around the world by defending the rights of all people to live free of child labor, forced labor, human trafficking, and modern slavery,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta.