Two Workers at a Flower Farm

The summer months were a busy time for Verité’s advocacy and engagement on responsible recruitment. We participated in a number of high-level and technical meetings, with notable progress among international organizations, multi-stakeholder initiatives, business associations, and civil society.

 

In July, Verité co-convened an expert meeting with the UN Special Rapporteur on Trafficking in Persons. This meeting assembled representatives of some of the world’s largest and most prominent multi-stakeholder, certification, and industry initiatives with the goal to share good practices and lessons learned in combatting trafficking in supply chains while exploring future partnership opportunities.

Participants covered a range of issues, including the need to strengthen normative frameworks, improve audit protocols, promote good practices in grievance mechanisms, and enhance worker voices in supply chain strategies. A strong foundation was laid for sustained cooperation that Verité and the Special Rapporteur will take forward into 2017.

 

Momentum is also building among international organizations. The International Labor Organization (ILO) recently convened a tripartite meeting of governments, workers, and employers to agree on principles and provide operational guidance on fair recruitment. These guidelines – currently in draft form but to be finalized in the coming months – are a welcome intervention that will reinforce existing global resources like Verité’s Fair Hiring Toolkit and the open-source Responsible Sourcing Tool. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has also made headway recently with the first meeting of the International Advisory Committee for International Recruitment and Integrity System (IRIS), its global standard and certification system for ethical recruiters. Verité sits on the Advisory Committee, which provides strategic and technical advice on IRIS’s development and implementation.

 

Verité builds awareness and consensus across civil society on strategies to promote corporate accountability, with supply chains as a key entry point to protect migrants in the global economy. This perspective informs our work with the newest pillar of the Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) – “Business Mechanism” that was launched last year and that will present a global issues paper on skills mobility this year. Under the leadership of the International Organisation of Employers (IOE), Business Mechanism convened a high-level event in July to help shape this paper. Verité participated in the event and urged a strong focus on the human and labor rights of migrants. This year, the GFMD takes place in Dhaka, Bangladesh, where a key theme of the Civil Society Days will be the rights of migrant workers in supply chains.

 

These activities reflect an important moment in global action to address unethical recruitment and promote fair migration and employment for migrants. There is a growing consensus on the need for urgent, concerted action, best illustrated by the recent, unanimous adoption of the New York Declaration on Refugees and Migrants by UN Member States on September 19, 2016. The Declaration commits world leaders to establish a Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration by 2018. These are encouraging signs.

 

Yet one cannot help but feel that more needs to be done with greater urgency. More coordination is needed across borders and between stakeholders and diverse initiatives. The voice of civil society, workers’ organizations, and migrants’ rights groups has to be amplified. The private sector, and investor and donor communities – beyond the usual suspects – need to be at the table. And, of course, all governments must be genuinely engaged and committed. These, and many more steps, must be taken to translate political goodwill and new commitments into concrete, on-the-ground improvements for migrant workers. Without them, we risk stagnation or worse, and neither is acceptable.

 

For more information about Verité’s work with international organizations and other stakeholders, please contact Philip Hunter.