Our Mission: The Institute for Human Rights and Business (IHRB) is dedicated to being a global centre of excellence and expertise on the relationship between business and internationally proclaimed human rights standards...more

IHRB Programmes: Business and Migration

Migrant workers remain among the most exploited workforce globally due to widespread irresponsible practices during both their recruitment and subsequent employment. Leadership from the private sector in cooperation with government and civil society could dramatically improve standards of worker protection.

The Dhaka Principles for Migration with Dignity

The Dhaka Principles for Migration with Dignity are a set of human rights based principles that provide a common reference point for all relevant stakeholders to raise standards of migrant worker protection during recruitment and overseas employment through to safe return. They are intended for use by all industry sectors and in any country where workers migrate either inwards or outwards.

The Dhaka Principles were developed by the Institute for Human Rights and Business in consultation with a range of stakeholders from business, government, trade unions and civil society. The first draft was shared publicly at a migration roundtable in Dhaka, Bangladesh, June 2011.

They are based on the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and international labour and human rights standards. The Dhaka Principles provide a roadmap that traces the worker from home to place of employment and back again and provides key principles that employers and migrant recruiters should respect at each stage in the process to ensure migration with dignity.

The Dhaka Principles were officially launched on International Migrants Day, 18th December 2012.

The work of the institute on Business and Migration also encompasses the following three strands of activity:

1. Promoting enhanced human rights due diligence in recruitment and employment of migrant workers

IHRB is leading a multi-stakeholder process to embed these core principles into bilateral government agreements on migrant labour, business-to-business contracts and codes of conduct, and employer-employee contracts, engaging with ManpowerGroup, Verité, ETI, FLA, ITUC, CIETT among others, to ensure maximum complementarity with other initatives.

Bangladesh Press Conference

Bangladesh Roundtable, June 2011:
Responsible Recruitment, Responsible Return

Consultations around raising standards of protection for migrant workers in the apparel sector have taken place at IHRB’s series of multi-stakeholder roundtables in:

London [13 pages]

Mauritius [11 pages]


Bangladesh [20 pages]

The apparel sector roundtables have provided a platform for engaging brands, suppliers, NGOs and governments on how to achieve responsible recruitment and employment of migrant workers and develop supporting principles and guidelines.

At the June 2011 Dhaka roundtable, there was unanimous support from a wide range of stakeholders for a set of over-arching principles, the Dhaka Principles for Migration with Dignity.

2. Improving regulation for recruitment of migrant workers

IHRB is leading a coalition to increase enforcement of regulation for low-wage labour providers in the UK by calling for the merging of the Gangmasters’ Licensing Authority (GLA) and the Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate; the new body to oversee all industry sectors, strengthening protection for vulnerable workers. The Gangmasters’ Licensing Authority in the UK is one of the most successful models globally of regulating low-wage labour providers. Their remit currently covers agriculture, forestry, horticulture, shellfish gathering, food and drink processing and packaging.

IHRB has brought together a coalition of organisations to call for an extension of GLA standards to the whole recruitment sector, thereby strengthening protection for workers (a high percentage of whom are migrants) in the high-risk construction, hospitality and care sectors, and many others.

A common position paper [3 pages], supported by IHRB, Anti-Slavery International, Ethical Trading Initiative, Oxfam GB, Ecumenical Council on Corporate Responsibility, and the Association of Labour Providers, is available to download

IHRB plans to take lessons from the GLA to share with recruitment regulatory bodies in other countries, and interest has been voiced by a number of EU governments in exploring the GLA model in more detail.

3. The Staff Wanted Initiative:
Combating Forced Labour, Trafficking and Exploitation in the UK Hospitality Industry
– London 2012 and beyond

The Staff Wanted Initiative
Migrant workers remain among the most exploited workforce globally.

Migrant workers remain among the most exploited workforce globally.

The Staff Wanted Initiative is a project being developed jointly by The Institute for Human Rights and Business and Anti-Slavery International, to raise awareness within the UK hospitality industry of the steps needed to combat the exploitation of vulnerable workers, trafficking and forced labour.

The project seeks to improve the recruitment and employment of staff in the UK hospitality industry by working with business partners and other stakeholders to help identify practices that can allow exploitation of workers in the sector, and as a consequence, reputational and legal risk for business, and to advocate for improved practice and risk mitigation.

The project’s focus will initially concentrate on the London hotel industry around the 2012 Olympics, but will provide guidelines and tools for business that can be taken to scale.

Programme Partners

We are working with ManpowerGroup as a strategic partner in our efforts to promote responsible recruitment practices with business to protect migrant workers’ rights and contribute to combating trafficking. ManpowerGroup as one of the world’s largest recruitment companies has long been committed to ending the global trafficking of people and has been a leading advocate for better regulation, enforcement and engagement by business with this serious issue.

We are also forging strong links with Verité, ILO (Forced Labour Programme), Ethical Trading Initiative and ITUC to ensure strong buy-in and leverage from the private sector, government, unions and civil society organisations.

Engaging with partners in-country will allow IHRB to add value to long-term migrant/trafficking/women’s rights programmes in Bangladesh, India and other countries and hopefully will provide avenues for extending the reach of this work beyond the apparel sector. Our partner in Bangladesh is the Refugee and Migratory Movements Research Unit (RMMRU) at Dhaka University.

A number of global companies, including ManpowerGroup, are actively involved in the End Human Trafficking Now campaign. IHRB will seek to find possible areas of synergy with this campaign as appropriate. We will also ensure that our recommendations on corporate and government due diligence in recruitment of low-paid workers complements industry guidelines set out by CIETT (International Confederation of Private Employment Agencies)

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