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October 08, 2015

Concordia Summit Spotlights Labor Trafficking

Last week Concordia hosted their fifth Annual Summit in New York City, convening a diverse group of thought leaders to explore solutions to various global challenges through public-private partnerships.

Labor trafficking held the spotlight in many discussions. Of the estimated 20.9 million human trafficking victims worldwide, 68 percent are believed to be victims of labor trafficking. This is a crime of high profit and low risk for traffickers—there were only 4,443 convictions worldwide last year. And while labor trafficking represents 68% of the problem, it accounted for only five percent of convictions.

Labor trafficking is difficult to identify, investigate, and prosecute. Combating it requires government, business, and civil society working together on parallel strategies. Businesses control a significant part of the labor market and can make decisions and move more quickly than the government. To highlight this, Concordia featured a panel of experts who are tackling trafficking from within the private economy. 

The anti-trafficking movement has tried to pressure companies to increase transparency in their supply chains. This is information that investors want and is critical to rooting out forced labor vulnerabilities. While companies are increasing investment in activities that lead to long term sustainability, such as Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) standards, it’s difficult to measure impact around reducing the potential for forced labor.  Identifying right outcomes that are measurable is key to motivating businesses to prioritize increased transparency in their supply chains.

Transparency alone won’t end trafficking. Companies need to be given limited time-bound protection to deal with forced labor in their supply chain when they find it, or be held accountable. This work needs to happen in concert with other strategies across the government and civil society if we’re ever going to make a dent in human trafficking. For more information about Human Rights First’s approach, please see our blueprint for How to Dismantle the Business of Human Trafficking.