UN Migration Agency Co-hosts Hong Kong Workshop on Public-Private Sector Partnerships to Combat Human Trafficking


Hong Kong SAR – IOM, the UN Migration Agency, in partnership with Justice Centre Hong Kong, today (11/04) hosted a workshop to help private sector companies understand how they can work better with civil society and IOM to meet internationally recognized human rights standards, particularly relating to labour exploitation, including modern day slavery and human trafficking.

The event, which took place in Hong Kong, was supported by international law firm King & Wood Mallesons and diversified financial group Macquarie.

The issue of modern day slavery remains a major challenge around the world with an estimated 40.3 million victims in 2016. Of these, approximately 25 million were victims of forced labour, notably in the Asia-Pacific region. Over 60 per cent or 16 million victims of forced labour were working for private sector companies.

“Competing in a global market means that many leading companies are outsourcing their business operations overseas to reduce costs. As a result of these global market pressures, companies often find themselves at risk of being publicly associated with severe labour exploitation in their global supply chains,” said Dr. Nenette Motus, IOM Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific. “This event is about exploring how companies can act as powerful drivers of change by forging meaningful partnerships with civil society and IOM to end modern slavery and human trafficking,” she added.

Piya Muqit, Executive Director of Justice Centre Hong Kong, added: “With the publication by the Hong Kong SAR Government of an action plan to tackle trafficking in persons, this event is an opportunity to explore how strategic partnerships can ensure the corporate community are ahead of the policy curve.”  

Representatives from over 35 major private sector companies including Starbucks, Adidas, Credit Suisse, HSBC and Atkins participated in the workshop to discuss how corporates can contribute to eliminating modern slavery and human trafficking through building partnerships with civil society and international agencies like IOM.

With the adoption of a Private Sector Partnership Strategy 2016-2020, IOM recognized the significant role of the business community to positively impact and further the benefits of migration.

IOM’s Corporate Responsibility in Eliminating Slavery and Trafficking (CREST), supported by the Development Section of the Embassy of Sweden in Thailand, is designed to help companies undertake and fulfil their due diligence obligations in promoting and upholding universal human rights and labour standards throughout their supply chains.

The Corporate Change Maker project is an evolution of Justice Centre’s evidence-based policy work on human trafficking in Hong Kong. “Since 2014, the Macquarie Group Foundation has been directing efforts towards preventing and responding to modern slavery. Working with organizations across the region, we have supported a range of initiatives, including the Corporate Change Makers project, with the goal of increasing awareness among our peers and governments,” said Ben Way, Asia CEO of the Macquarie Group and a member of the Macquarie Group Foundation Committee.

For more information please contact Nurul Qoiriah, IOM China’s Hong Kong Sub-Office, Tel: 2332 2441, Email: nqoiriah@iom.int

  • Evidence of forced labour has repeatedly surfaced in the Thai fishing industry – a major supplier of seafood to world markets. Photo: Thierry Falise / IOM.