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Durham University

Durham Law: Policy Engagement

Extending Forced Labour Initiatives

THE GLOBAL REGULATORY CHALLENGE: FORCED LABOUR AS AN ENTRY POINT FOR UFW REGULATION



Eradicating forced labour is among the central challenges of contemporary working life, involving 25 million people across the world. In recent decades, innovative legal frameworks have been designed to address forced labour, which have had considerable success. This outcome suggests that legal regimes on forced labour might be extended or adapted to regulate other dimensions of UFW. Thus, initiatives on forced labour can be a key entry point for designing effective and sustainable labour regulation to eliminate UFW.


EXTENDING FORCED LABOUR INITIATIVES: A RESEARCH AGENDA

The Strategic Network on Legal Regulation of Unacceptable Forms of Work has designed a set of Research Agendas on combatting unacceptable work. The Research Agenda on Extending Forced Labour Initiatives outlines a strategy for investigating how to extend or adapt forced labour frameworks to tackle other forms of UFW.

The Research Agenda has been designed by a Strategic Network Team that includes researchers and policy actors from across the world:


AN ILLUSTRATION: BRAZIL AND UNITED KINGDOM

Comparative research on regulatory frameworks is crucial to combat UFW. It can provide global lessons from innovations in different countries. For this reason, the Network Team on Extending Forced Labour Initiatives has suggested that future research should involve comparisons of countries of different income levels and in different regions.

As an illustration, significant regulatory initiatives for tackling forced labour have been introduced in Brazil and the United Kingdom in recent decades. Brazil's approach is multifaceted, including the prohibition of slave labour in the Penal Code; the creation of the lista suja - or 'dirty list' - which publicly discloses the names of companies that use forced labour in their supply chains; and a Constitutional Amendment in 2014 to allow confiscation of property from those who benefit from slave labour.

Brazil and the UK are diverse in socio-economic development, legal systems,institutional regimes, and economic and labour strategies. Yet together they have potential to generate lessons on innovative legal techniques in UFW regulation from a middle- and high-income country.



A GLOBAL RESEARCH AGENDA

For further details, see our global research agenda on extending forced labour initiatives.

The objectives of this research agenda are:

  • to identify flagship legal initiatives on forced labour, with a particular focus on supply chain accountability mechanisms;
  • to determine which elements of these frameworks are effective in prompting firms to develop due diligence practices;
  • to identify the kinds of labour enforcement activities that are needed;
  • to establish a new paradigm of business responsibilities to prevent UFW in supply chains.