IOM Viet Nam and Sweden Partner to Enhance Corporate Responsibility in Eliminating Slavery and Trafficking in Asia

Posted: 
09/08/17
Themes: 
Counter-Trafficking, Human Smuggling

Viet Nam – IOM, the UN Migration Agency, this week signed a partnership agreement with Sweden for a five-year initiative that will seek partnership with the private sector and regional actors in their efforts to better protect the human and labour rights of migrant workers within supply chains across Asia.

The USD 5.8 million agreement was signed by IOM Viet Nam Chief of Mission David Knight and Anne-Charlotte Malm, Head of Development Cooperation for the Asia and Pacific Region at the Swedish Embassy in Bangkok, Thailand.

“This partnership agreement with Sweden will help ensure that IOM can continue to build partnerships with the private sector and regional actors to transfer technical expertise that will help enhance the protection of migrant workers and maximize the development impact of migration,” said Knight.

“We are very pleased with this new partnership with IOM focusing on the protection of human and labour rights in global supply chains. In Asia, where people are migrating both for economic reasons, but also increasingly due to climate change, enhancement of decent working conditions and ethical recruitment practices will be increasingly important. It fits well with our goal: to contribute to sustainable development by working regionally, through mutual interaction between human rights, democracy, gender equality, environment and climate change,” said Malm.

In the globalized economy, migrants make up important parts of the labour force in international supply chains. While the migration experience often leads to positive outcomes for workers and their families, many prospective migrants are subjected to unethical recruitment practices that may include excessive fees, low wages, unreasonable physical demands or excessive time spent in remote locations, including at sea.

Migrant workers are therefore vulnerable to abusive and exploitative recruitment and employment practices akin to modern slavery. This places them among the estimated 11.7 million people in the Asia-Pacific subjected to various forms of forced labour.

IOM’s Corporate Responsibility in Eliminating Slavery and Trafficking in Asia (CREST) initiative identifies businesses as a critical partner in the fight against modern slavery and forced labour, with the private sector offering unique skills, knowledge and market leverage.

The private sector is also being increasingly held accountable, through legislative frameworks such as the UK Modern Slavery Act and the California Transparency in Supply Chains Act, for failures to regulate their supply chains at local and global levels.

According to IOM’s Knight, companies who commit to protect workers in their supply chains will have the potential to act as drivers of sustainable change towards a business model for the eradication of modern slavery, forced labour and human trafficking in global supply chains, in line with the goals of the UN’s 2030 Agenda and the upcoming Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM). Both initiatives recognize migration as an integral part of sustainable development.

“CREST responds to the growing interest from the private sector and regional actors in Asia for practical solutions to protect human and labour rights, which will ultimately help benefit and protect those that need it the most – the migrant workers – that have the least,” he noted.

The agreement with Sweden follows a series of IOM projects with leading international companies to enhance supply chain transparency, strengthen understanding of the journeys of migrant workers and their families, and build the capacities of all actors across the supply chain to adhere to international social and labour standards.

“Collaboration with the private sector to build sustainable business practices is high on the agenda for Sweden. This important initiative can be a game changer for migrant workers’ rights in the region,” said Malm.

For more information please contact David Knight at IOM Viet Nam. Email: dknight@iom.int, Tel. +84.903.38501810

 

  • Migrant workers can be vulnerable to abusive and exploitative recruitment and employment practices. Photo: Muse Mohammed / UN Migration Agency (IOM) 2017

  • Migrant workers can be vulnerable to abusive and exploitative recruitment and employment practices. Photo: Muse Mohammed / UN Migration Agency (IOM) 2017