From Protocol to Practice: A Bridge to Global Action on Forced Labor (The Bridge Project)
There are an estimated 24.9 million men, women, and children in forced labor. They are trafficked, held in debt bondage, or work under slavery-like conditions. The COVID-19 pandemic has made countering forced labor even more challenging. Vulnerable people who have lost their jobs in the informal economy are at greater risk of falling into forced labor.
In June 2014, governments, employers, and workers overwhelmingly supported the adoption, during the ILO International Labor Conference, of the new ILO Protocol of 2014 to the Forced Labor Convention, 1930 and the Recommendation on supplementary measures for the effective suppression of forced labor. If widely ratified and implemented by ILO member countries, the Protocol and Recommendation will be a catalyst for achieving the vision of a world without forced labor.
The project seeks to effectively eliminate traditional and state-imposed forced labor systems and to significantly reduce contemporary forms of forced labor, which are often linked to human trafficking. The project will do this by:
- Increasing knowledge, awareness, and implementation of the 2014 ILO Protocol and Recommendation;
- Improving evidence-based and responsive national policies and action plans on forced labor with strong implementation, monitoring, and enforcement mechanisms;
- Enhancing efforts to collect reliable national statistics in order to carry out research and share knowledge across institutions at national, regional, and global levels;
- Strengthening workers’ and employers’ organizations to support the fight against forced labor in partnership with other interested parties; and
- Bolstering awareness and livelihoods programs to prevent forced labor and to provide victims with access to remedies.
Awareness Raising on Forced Labor
- BRIDGE supported the “50forFreedom” campaign, which aims to achieve at least 50 country ratifications of the Protocol by 2018, through the development of a web platform, awareness-raising materials on the Protocol and Recommendation, and through establishing partnerships with media groups to increase public awareness of forced labor. Through these efforts, the project signed up over 77,000 people who pledged to show their support to end child labor. To date, 56 countries have ratified the protocol.
- To increase the media’s understanding of forced labor, the project developed a media training toolkit on forced labor and fair recruitment to train journalists and students.
- BRIDGE’s support to the Government of Peru led to Peru’s criminalization of forced labor in 2017 (Art. 129-O Criminal Law) and the ratification of the ILO Protocol on Forced Labor in 2021.
- The project evaluated Peru’s National Plan 2013-2017 and supported the development of the country’s National Plan 2019-2022 (approved by the National Commission in July 2018 and by the government in September 2019). The project is currently monitoring the National Action Plan, which was endorsed by the Ministry of Labour in 2020. These plans are critical in ensuring policies protect victims and work to end forced labor.
- In Malaysia, the project supported the government in formulating and adopting the National Action Plan on Trafficking in Persons, which includes forced labor and child labor.
- To support countries in creating their own plans, the project created a Developing National Actions Plans on Forced Labor (2020) toolkit. A number of countries, including Chile, used the toolkit to design and develop National Action Plans on Forced Labor.
- The project developed training materials for employers, law enforcement, judges, prosecutors and legal aid practitioners on forced labor, helping them to better comply with and enforce labor laws.
- The project supported Peru and Niger’s National Forced Labor Surveys in collaboration with the National Institute of Statistics. The surveys are critical tools in understanding the scope of forced labor in the countries.
- The project supported the integration of a forced labor module into Nepal’s National Labor Force Survey, which will enable the collection of much needed data on forced labor in Nepal.
- In partnership with the Government of Malaysia, BRIDGE supported the Employment Survey in Oil Palm Plantations and conducted recruitment cost surveys for the Malaysia-Indonesia corridor (plantation and domestic work) and the Malaysia-Philippines corridor (domestic work). This information will help the government shape more effective policies on forced labor.
- In Malaysia, Mauritania, Nepal, and Peru, BRIDGE helped to design, implement, and monitor community-based prevention and rehabilitation programs. The project also developed and trained a network of lawyers and judicial officials to support strategic litigation of individual forced labor cases.
- BRIDGE provided livelihood support to 700 bonded laborers (66% of whom are women) across 16 different trades in three remote districts of Nepal. The livelihood interventions are integral to combatting gender stereotypes and discrimination.
- BRIDGE facilitated the receipt of identity cards and birth certificates for 900 vulnerable children and adults in Niger. Children without birth certificates are more vulnerable to violence, abuse, and exploitation.
- With the project’s assistance, Peru formulated the “Protocol on Labor Inspection of Forced Labor” to prevent, investigate and sanction cases of forced labor.
- The project provided 400 female victims/descendants of slavery in Niger with vocational training, literacy and numeracy, life skills, business trainings and post-training support. This support will help them transition to life after forced labor.