In June 2011, the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council unanimously passed the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. These principles outline obligations for state governments and businesses to have standards for respecting human rights and freedoms—specifically in preventing forced labour and modern slavery—in their supply chains.
The UN Guiding Principles represent a platform for coordinated multilateral action on regulation of businesses in the field of forced labour, and a growing number of governments around the world are taking legal action to ensure the accountability and commitment of businesses in addressing forced labour in their supply chains.
The Canadian House of Commons recently tasked the Subcommittee on International Human Rights to investigate and study the issue of firms using forced labour in their supply chains, seeking input from Canadian civil society groups, non-governmental organizations, industry associations, politicians, and government officials.
On October 16th, 2018, a report from the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development was released. The report was titled: A CALL TO ACTION: ENDING THE USE OF ALL FORMS OF CHILD LABOUR IN SUPPLY CHAINS. Within it, comes a strong call for legislation, which we as an organization fully support. The full report can be found online: http://www.ourcommons.ca/DocumentViewer/en/42-1/FAAE/report-19
The Canadian Fair Trade Network welcomes and congratulates the Canadian Government on taking this first step to addressing a very large and complex issue. Canada joins a host of other countries which have put in place or are in the process of putting in place similar legislation, including the United Kingdom, Australia, France, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Germany and Finland.
Modern slavery affects an estimated 40.3 million people around the world, many of them producing goods ultimately destined for Canadian supply chains; one in four of the victims of child slavery are children. The Numbers:
- The International Labour Organization (ILO) estimates that in 2016, an estimated 40.3 million people were in modern slavery.
- 1 in 4 victims of modern slavery are children.
- 15.4 million are victims of forced marriage.
- Canada imports “risky products” valued in the billions.
Past Publishing on This Issue:
- Fairtrade Canada Statement on Ending Child Labour in Supply Chains, published on Fairtrade Canada’s website
- Time to end modern slavery in supply chains, published in the Star
- Why Canada Needs to Stand Against Forced Labour in Supply Chains, published in Fair Trade Magazine – Summer/Fall 2018 Edition, pg. 11