UN Addresses Forced Labor

forced labor
Forced labor around the world has generated $150 billion. Now, the United Nations has backed a treaty that will punish countries and companies who commit acts of forced labor.

Forced labor can be defined in many ways, with two-thirds of the profits mentioned coming from sexual exploitation. The rest comes from domestic and agricultural workers, which makes up domestic exploitation. Forced labor includes slavery as well as suspicious recruitment tactics.

The International Labor Organization recently documented 21 million involuntary laborers, citing this as a massive breach of human rights. The U.N. saw it fit to support this view and at a conference in Geneva, many countries showed support as well.

Notably, Thailand, still under military rule, and many middle eastern countries, declined the treaty.

ILO Director Guy Ryder acknowledged the huge feat ahead, citing education as one of the early steps to changing the current economic standings that forced labor flourishes in. In an interview with CBS News, Ryder says, “We need to strengthen social protection floors to prevent households from sliding into the poverty that pushes people into forced labor.”

The international victims of forced labor are 55 percent women and girls who are sexually exploited and serve as domestic laborers. Men and boys are often forced into mining and other agricultural positions. Their lack of education and impoverished upbringing create the perfect recipe for being tricked into forced labor.

Many companies trick their workers by having them sign a contract in one country and then relocating them and stripping them of their passports. By doing so, the workers are trapped in a different country with little means to escape. The inhumane behavior shown by employers across the world has come to the attention of the national stage and many countries refuse to allow its continuation.

In the Middle East, where many U.N. representatives refrained from the treaty, around 600,000 laborers are known to be forced in accordance to the ILO reports. Even with the snub of these countries and Thailand, the pact took the majority, and many countries plan to see changes in the near future for the way forced labor is handled.

Many of the countries that signed have vowed protection to victims of forced labor who were forced into criminal activities, acting as a barrier between those who have abused and the people that will face severe consequences.

— Elena Lopez

Sources: Reuters, CBS, Global Post
Photo: International Justice Mission