Commentary

2018 TIP Report: Despite Shortcomings, An Opportunity for Continued Advocacy in Southeast Asia

The United States Department of State released its 2018 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report on 28th June, ranking 187 countries on their performance in preventing and addressing trafficking for labour and sexual exploitation.

The report was first...

18 July 2018

By Julia Batho, Research Fellow, IHRB

Reflections from the 2018 Global Forum on Responsible Recruitment

The 2018 Global Forum on Responsible Recruitment and Employment took place on the 11th-12th June 2018 in Singapore.

Hosted by the Institute for Human Rights and Business and Consumer Goods Forum, with partners Humanity United, this second annual...

26 June 2018

Eradicating Recruitment Fees is Crucial for Tackling Modern Slavery

Today, businesses, trade associations and organisations from around the world are coming together in Singapore for the 2018 Global Forum on Responsible Recruitment and Employment. They will discuss the importance of responsible recruitment of...

11 June 2018

By Kevin Hyland, UK Anti-Slavery Commissioner

Speaking Up - A Growing Advocacy Dimension to Corporate Leadership on Human Rights

Not so very long ago, human rights were primarily viewed by businesses as risks to their operations and reputations that needed effective management. 

Today, we see growing recognition that risks to people must be addressed alongside risks to the...

08 June 2018

By William Rook, Regional Manager, Middle East, IHRB

New Framework Agreement - Significant Progress in Protecting the Rights of Migrant Construction Work

The construction industry in Qatar is an important part of the country’s economic development and will remain so for the foreseeable future. The sector relies on migrant workers who everywhere in the world are vulnerable to exploitation and abuse.

...

22 January 2018

By Jin Sook Lee, Gender & Campaign Director, Building and Wood Workers' International, Sarah Tesei, Director of Social Innovation and Human Rights, VINCI

A Year of Growing Momentum to Protect Migrant Rights in Southeast Asia

Today, International Migrants Day, 18 December 2017, is a timely moment to review recent efforts in Southeast Asia on labour migration governance, ethical recruitment, and protection of migrant workers’ rights, particularly in the context of supply...

18 December 2017

By Julia Batho, Research Fellow, IHRB

Realising Ethical Recruitment by Remediating Worker-Paid Recruitment Fees

At the end of November 2017, droves of company executives, human rights specialists, and diplomats from around the world will travel to Geneva to attend the UN Forum for Business and Human Rights. The theme of the conference this year is “Realizing...

20 November 2017

By Nikhil Eapen, India Director, Equidem Research

Japan’s Technical Intern Training Programme - Learning the Hard Way?

In September 2017, 37 member states endorsed an appeal during the UN General Assembly for urgent action on Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 8.7. This is the target that advocates immediate progress to eradicate human trafficking, forced labour,...

16 October 2017

By Takeshi Hayakawa, IHRB Visiting Researcher 2016, Jon Barnes, Independent Researcher; Research Fellow, IHRB

New Construction Sector Agreement on Protecting Vulnerable Workers

Worker exploitation and ongoing rights abuses in the construction sector are being tackled through a range of initiatives, including guidance from CIOB on tackling modern slavery in construction, the BRE Ethical Labour Standard, and the Stronger...

11 October 2017

By Neill Wilkins, Programme Manager, Migrant Workers, IHRB, William Rook, Regional Manager, Middle East, IHRB

Responsible Recruitment - Turning Principles into Practice

Today an estimated 21 million individuals still face conditions of what the United Nations refers to as ‘modern’ forms of slavery. Of that number, 14 million individuals are victims of labour exploitation specifically.

Such violations of...

16 June 2017

By Didier Bergeret, Director, Social Sustainability and the Global Social Compliance Programme, The Consumer Goods Forum

New Guidance to Ensure Ethical Recruitment of Migrant Workers

Among sustainability issues that have come to light in recent years, recruitment of migrant workers has rapidly gained attention as a global phenomenon frequently synonymous with egregious violations of human rights such as forced labour and human...

25 May 2017

By Valentina Gurney, Associate Program Director, Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility

The Case for an Australian Modern Slavery Act

Australian consumers, businesses, and now lawmakers, are waking up to the brutal reality of modern slavery within Australia and the slave trade fuelling global supply chains.

Many people and organisations unwittingly benefit from modern slavery...

27 February 2017

By Shaeron Yapp, Consultant, Walk Free Foundation, Fiona David, Executive Director of Global Research, Walk Free Foundation

Q&A on the Stronger Together Construction Initiative

The UK Modern Slavery Act has encouraged many businesses to examine how their activities impact the rights of others. The Act requires companies to engage with key challenges relating to risks of forced labour and trafficking. Customer-facing...

16 February 2017

Why Should a Worker Pay for a Job?

The Problem

We all know that global supply chains rely on low-waged workers. Migrant workers from poor areas travel overseas for employment to provide for their families. Developing economies count on remittances from their overseas workers to feed...

10 January 2017

Recruitment Practices Must be Part of Sustainable Development Strategies

One in every 17 workers is a migrant worker. Their efforts are a ubiquitous feature of all global supply chains. There is little that we eat, wear or use that has not seen the involvement of migrant workers at some stage of its production.

Migrant...

13 December 2016

By Neill Wilkins, Programme Manager, Migrant Workers, IHRB

Protecting Workers Building Sporting Venues –  Progress in Qatar

Mega-sporting events focus attention on human rights, however, it is often for a fleeting moment. It requires a great sense of urgency if improvements are to take place. In construction, it means a big, but temporary surge in activity for stadiums,...

28 November 2016

By Jim Baker

Overcoming the “Exit Challenge” - Why We Need New Forms of Social Contract

The #Brexit vote in the UK earlier this year, the rise of extreme populists in many parts of Europe and now the USA all pose a central challenge: How to convince people that complex problems need complex solutions? Building walls, leaving...

12 September 2016

By John Morrison, Chief Executive, IHRB

Built Environment Companies Need to Take a Longer Term View on Modern Slavery

It is an obvious but uncomfortable truth that there is no quick fix for modern slavery.  It is too enmeshed in corruption to be solved by box-ticking initiatives. It is too financially rewarding to be given up easily by perpetrators. The...

29 July 2016

By Emma Crates, Freelance journalist

How Companies can use their Leverage to Protect Migrant Domestic Workers

Information gap

In the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), domestic workers – nannies, housekeepers, drivers, chefs and gardeners – are largely excluded from labour law. A majority of domestic workers are migrant women from...

01 July 2016

By Vani Saraswathi, Associate Editor, Migrant-Rights.org & Strategic Adviser, Shelter Me Project

Responsible Recruitment and Tackling Forced Labour

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) defines forced labour as:

“all work or service which is exacted from any person under the menace of any penalty for which said person has not offered himself voluntarily.”

Almost 21 million people are...

14 June 2016

By Justin Bettey, Head of Content and Stakeholder Relations, Sedex

Time to deliver on responsible supply chain commitments

As G7 leaders meet in Japan later this week, will we see scaled up joint action to ensure that all business activity, wherever it takes place, is undertaken in ways that respect the rights of workers and communities and enhance economic,...

26 May 2016

By Scott Jerbi, Senior Advisor, Policy & Outreach, IHRB

Employer Pays - Time for a New Model in Migrant Worker Recruitment

Over 30 years in addressing supply chain human rights issues has taught me that regardless of industry sector, or whether a company has a cross border supply chain or one that is wholly domestic, there is a substantial likelihood that migrant labour...

04 May 2016

By Edward E. Potter, International Advisory Council Member, IHRB

Can the Construction Industry Build Itself a Slavery-Free Future?

In recent years the issues of forced labour and human trafficking have risen higher on the political agenda than ever before. As awareness has grown, the world has come to learn such exploitation is far more common than was previously known and...

30 July 2015

By Neill Wilkins, Programme Manager, Migrant Workers, IHRB

Migrant Workers’ Right to Health: A Global Advocacy Agenda

Recent headlines describing the plight of thousands of migrants drowning at sea as they tried to make their way from Africa to Europe, are but the most recent reminders of the treacherous journey many encounter in their search for work. Yet, these...

10 July 2015

By Carolyn Rodehau, David Wofford, Vice President, Meridian Group International

From Refugee to Migrant? Labour Mobility’s Protection Potential

The migrants who have arrived on Europe’s shores in recent weeks, clinging to the wreckage of leaking dinghies, undoubtedly constitute a humanitarian crisis.  Surveys suggest that about half are refugees, mainly Syrians and Eritreans, and many more...

04 June 2015

By Katy Long

Social Impact Bonds For Factories In Bangladesh

This op-ed was published on Forbes.com on March 24, 2015.

The two main initiatives established in response to the 2013 Rana Plaza disaster in Bangladesh, where nearly 1,200 garment workers lost their lives from a factory collapse, are wrestling...

24 March 2015

By Motoko Aizawa

Government Approval Not Enough, Businesses Need Social License

This article was originally published on YaleGlobal Online

Globalization drives business deals around the globe along with keen new awareness about social, environmental and other consequences of development. Best business practice now demands...

22 October 2014

By John Morrison, Chief Executive, IHRB

UK Modern Slavery Bill: Will it protect, respect and ensure access to redress for workers?

If I were to rate the current draft of the UK Modern Slavery Bill on the degree to which it will protect, respect and give access to remedy for workers, I’d give it 4/10.

Surprising, right?

The Modern Slavery Bill is the first of its kind, and the...

14 October 2014

By Cindy Berman

Business and Society: Defining the ’Social License’

This article, by IHRB Executive Director John Morrison, was originally published in The Guardian on 29 September 2014.

Business leaders, politicians and civil society set a common direction towards new global agreements on climate change at the UN...

01 October 2014

By John Morrison, Chief Executive, IHRB

Tipping Point? Could the new ILO protocol on forced labour and human trafficking make a lasting diff

Last week the US State Department produced its annual Trafficking in Persons Report. The TIP report, as it is known, ranks 188 countries according to the prevalence of forced labour and trafficking and their efforts to curb it.

The global nature of...

25 June 2014

By Neill Wilkins, Programme Manager, Migrant Workers, IHRB

Rana Plaza – Rebuilding more than the Factory

Moves to protect workers since the Rana Plaza disaster are laudable but a more fundamental rethink of the market remains the only solution.

Over a year ago, 1,129 workers lost their lives and more than 2,500 were injured in a catastrophic...

09 June 2014

By Salil Tripathi, Senior Advisor, Global Issues, IHRB

Ensuring Respect for Human Rights at Sea

The international “Human Rights at Sea” (HRAS) initiative was recently launched with the aim of raising the profile, awareness, implementation and accountability for human rights protections throughout the maritime industry, especially where they...

20 May 2014

By David Hammond

The Invisible Workforce

The UK Equality and Human Rights Commission recently published its report, 'The Invisible Workforce'. This sets out our findings on employment practices in the cleaning sector.

Our key findings include:

  • Workers are not treated with dignity and...

18 May 2014

By Alice Teague

Women’s Leadership Can Transform the Way We Do Business in a Climate-Constrained World

This article was originally published in the HuffingtonPost.

As a global community, we find ourselves at a critical juncture. One path -- the "business as usual" route -- sees us approach a drastically warmer world, where our continuing reliance on...

07 May 2014

By Mary Robinson, Patron, IHRB

Respecting the rights of migrant workers

"All companies need to reduce the distance between themselves, their operations and negative impacts on the rights of migrant workers, consistent with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. Business cannot contract out the...

17 December 2013

By Neill Wilkins, Programme Manager, Migrant Workers, IHRB

Making Public-Private Partnerships Work

This op-ed was originally published on Thomson Reuters Foundation News channel trust.org.

A full agenda awaits business executives, government officials and civil society representatives attending next week’s U.N. Global Compact leaders summit in...

11 September 2013

By John Ruggie, Patron, IHRB

From Principles to Practice: three new guides support three sectors in respecting human rights

With the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights just passing their second birthday, it is a fitting time for the emergence of more detailed guidance to encourage their implementation.

As a contribution to this objective, last week the...

26 June 2013

By Margaret Wachenfeld, Managing Director, Themis Research; Senior Research Fellow, IHRB

Another Factory Tragedy - How Will the Bangladesh and the World React?

This week another disaster struck Bangladesh's garment export sector. Over 250 workers – mainly women – died in the collapse of a building that housed four garment factories in Dhaka. The death toll is likely to mount as rescue work continues.

Last...

26 April 2013

By Salil Tripathi, Senior Advisor, Global Issues, IHRB

Progress in Corporate Accountability

Last week Human Rights Watch released its 2013 World Report. It includes an essay by Senior Researcher Christopher Albin-Lackey decrying the hard won and widely adopted UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (GPs) as being “woefully...

04 February 2013

By John Ruggie, Patron, IHRB

Human Rights, Business and the Dhaka principles

This op-ed was originally published in the Daily Star in Dhaka Bangladesh.

On this International Migrants Day, we are reminded of the plight of migrant workers around the globe, whether they are working in cities in their home countries or...

18 December 2012

By John Morrison, Chief Executive, IHRB, C R Abrar, Director, Refugee and Migratory Movements Research Unit (RMMRU), University of Dhaka

The Dhaka Principles for Migration With Dignity

"Over 200 million migrants contribute to the global workforce. Many struggle in low-paid and dangerous working conditions, are under-protected by home and host governments, and exploited by business."

On this International Migrants’ Day, painful...

17 December 2012

By Frances House, Deputy Chief Executive, IHRB

Business Must do More to Protect the World’s Most Vulnerable Workers

This op-Ed was originally published on TheGuardian.com.

IHRB, together with the Anti-Slavery International, has called for greater protection for workers in this sector through the Staff Wanted Initiative and for hotels to undertake greater due...

05 October 2012

By John Morrison, Chief Executive, IHRB, Neill Wilkins, Programme Manager, Migrant Workers, IHRB

Business Reponsibility for its Social Impacts - Moving Beyond CSR

This op-Ed was originally published on TheGuardian.com.

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has been based largely on the assumption that the business case always aligns with the societal case as long as enough philanthropy is dispensed. The...

25 June 2012

By John Morrison, Chief Executive, IHRB

Making the Market a Force for Good

This op-Ed was originally published on TheGuardian.com.

Many companies already understand the important role they play in supporting the wellbeing of communities, but what can be done to ensure social responsibility becomes a key part of corporate...

25 June 2012

By Saba Salmon, Freelance social affairs journalist, commissioning editor and blogger, and regular contributor to Society Guardian

Aung San Suu Kyi Signals Change in Burma, but Investors Should Proceed with Caution

This op-Ed was originally published on Csmonitor.com.

The recent decision by the Obama administration to ease economic sanctions on Myanmar (also known as Burma) presents an important opportunity to reintegrate that country into the international...

19 June 2012

By John Ruggie, Patron, IHRB

Effective monitoring of domestic supply chains key to ending forced labour

Most debates on business involvement in human rights abuses focus on the role of global multinationals operating overseas. But new research supported by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation finds problems much closer to home, in particular among agency...

12 June 2012

By Mumtaz Lalani

The Staff Wanted Initiative - The Hospitality Industry will only earn respect by respecting those wh

Over the summer, London’s annual influx of tourists will swell still further by visitors coming for the Olympic and Paralympic games. The city’s instantly recognisable, traditional yet energetically global image continues to be a major selling point...

21 May 2012

By Neill Wilkins, Programme Manager, Migrant Workers, IHRB

Children’s Rights Finally Getting the Attention they Deserve

This op-Ed was originally published on TheGuardian.com.

Recognition of children as important in the broader human rights and business discussion has been a long time coming

Children's rights are finally getting the attention they deserve on the...

30 March 2012

By Margaret Wachenfeld, Managing Director, Themis Research; Senior Research Fellow, IHRB

Is the Organisation Investigating Apple’s Factories Good Enough?

This op-Ed was originally published on Forbes.com.

Under pressure, Apple has opened the doors of its troubled Chinese factories to inspection by labor investigators. Now not only Apple but its proposed monitor, the Fair Labor Association, are...

05 March 2012

By John Morrison, Chief Executive, IHRB, Christine Bader, Nonresident Senior Fellow, Kenan Institute for Ethics

Time for tourism industry to put human rights on its agenda

This week, over 47,000 tourism industry representatives from 189 countries will convene in London for the annual World Travel Market. Business deals worth millions of dollars will be struck and thousands of tourism products will be bought and sold....

07 November 2011

By Patricia Barnett

Trade Unions Building Bridges to Protect Migrant Workers

Bangladesh is a major country of origin of migrant workers. With workers specifically skilled in the garment industry, many Bangladeshi women migrate for work in textile and garment manufacturing in Mauritius or Jordan. Whereas migrant workers in...

17 August 2011

By Jeroen Beirnaert

Cleaning Up Recruitment and Return Practices to Protect Migrant Workers

This op-Ed was originally published on TheDailyStar.net.

As tens of thousands of Bangladeshi workers fled the conflict in Libya, their plight exposed the vulnerability of migrant labour. It also laid bare the gaps in protecting the human rights of...

28 June 2011

By Irene Khan

China Deals Must Not Come at the Cost of Human Rights

This op-Ed was originally published on News.Sky.com.

Economic growth and prosperity have lifted millions of people out of poverty since China reformed its economy four decades ago. A peaceful, stable, and prosperous China is in the interest of the...

27 June 2011

By John Morrison, Chief Executive, IHRB

Slavery in Supply Chains: What Companies Can Do

The word slavery conjures up images of a history we thought we put away. But slavery exists, in substantial numbers, in the supply chains of companies that sell goods to wealthy consumers around the world.

Most companies refer to the problem as...

06 December 2010

By Daniel Viederman

Vulnerable Livelihoods, Vulnerable Communities

Can human rights help companies better understand the true impact of their activities on the displacement of informal sector work?

"I spend most of my life in complete darkness – save for the light of my torch – mining cassiterite (tin ore) in...

01 December 2010

By Christine Jesseman, Emily Keeble

Universal Children’s Day - End the Worst Forms of Child Labour

November 20 marks Universal Children’s Day. Established by the United Nations over 50 years ago, it is a day to encourage countries to initiate action to promote the welfare of children. This year Anti-Slavery International is calling upon the...

18 November 2010

By Joanna Ewart-James, Supply Chain Co-ordinator, Anti-Slavery International

Are Current Approaches to Responsible Supply Chain Management Working?

Sustainable or responsible supply chain management (RSCM) emerged in the 1990s as an important part of the corporate responsibility (or corporate social responsibility - CSR) discourse. Over the past two decades, leading corporations have...

12 August 2010

By Sune Skadegaard Thorsen, CEO of GLOBAL CSR

Where is CSR Heading?

The global economic crisis has shaken the manufacturing industry to its core over the last couple of years, and the impact on workers has been palpable around the world.

The economic and social turmoil placed a tremendous responsibility on all of...

21 July 2010

World Cup, South Africa 2010 – Facing up to Responsibilities

The World Cup is a major event for South Africa. Appropriately enough, it is being celebrated as an international vote of confidence not only in the country, but also the continent. While stories of despair often dominate news from Africa, many of...

15 June 2010

By Steve Ouma

Checking in on Corporate Human Rights Reporting

At the Global Reporting Initiative’s (GRI) biennial conference last week, one of the sessions was dedicated to “the Future of Human Rights Reporting”. The panelists, drawn from diverse sectors, covered a wide range of issues.

These included the...

31 May 2010

By Elizabeth Umlas, Independent researcher and consultant

Further Steps Taken to Operationalise the Protect Respect and Remedy Framework

On 9 April the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General on human rights and business, John Ruggie (the SRSG), issued his 2010 Progress Report [24 pages, 146kb] (the Report) on the operationalisation of the “protect, respect and remedy”...

25 May 2010

By Peter Muchlinski

Putting the Protect, Respect, Remedy Framework into Practice

Last week, the latest report under my mandate as Special Representative of the U.N. Secretary General on business and human rights was released in advance of the June session of the U.N. Human Rights Council. This is my last interim report before I...

29 April 2010

By John Ruggie, Patron, IHRB

Vulnerable Workers, Vulnerable Brands - Migrants in the Supply Chain

“All our employers are interested in is our work. When there’s no work, they kick us out. We want to be treated like human beings, not like animals.”

Abdelilah, a 28 year old Moroccan, works in the Spanish agricultural town of El Ejido, on the...

10 April 2010

By Stephen Rylance, Communications Director, Ethical Trading Initiative

Knowledge of Human Rights Risks - Company Friend or Enemy?

Is knowledge of human rights risks a company’s friend or its enemy? No one likes bad news, and messengers who deliver it may choose to do so gingerly. But it’s critically important for a company to investigate, understand, and act on facts - however...

03 March 2010

By John Sherman, Senior Fellow, Harvard Kennedy School of Government

Small Change - Why Business Won’t Save the World

What’s the best way for business to contribute to realizing human rights? I’ve been pondering that question over the last few days in the light of Google’s decision to oppose censorship and protect the email accounts of activists in China, going so...

19 January 2010

By Michael Edwards

Timberland - Business Willing to Engage but a Multi-Stakeholder Effort Needed

IHRB's Executive Director John Morrison wrote a compelling post in late September about the need for rapid scaling of progress on human rights – a view we wholeheartedly share. It has taken us 15 years to get to where we are – to create what can...

30 November 2009

By Jeffrey Swartz, President & CEO, The Timberland Company

The Bitter Harvest of Uzbek Cotton

Once again in Uzbekistan this autumn, another bitter harvest is ending. Observers from different regions around the country are reporting that between 1.5 and 2 million teenagers, as well as children as young as nine years old, are missing school...

24 November 2009

By Bennett Freeman

The Business of Migration - Migrant Worker Rights in a Time of Financial Crisis

The Institute for Human Rights and Business is embarking on a three-year process of addressing the role of the private sector in migrant worker protection. The increased risk of abuse of migrants’ rights within the current financial crisis, coupled...

06 October 2009

By Frances House, Deputy Chief Executive, IHRB

Operationalising Human Rights - How Hard are Companies Trying? 

Our commentary on the Trafigura case highlights how a combination of weak governance and business expediency can result in negative impacts on human rights. But what exactly should business do to prevent such situations arising in the first place?

...

29 September 2009

By John Morrison, Chief Executive, IHRB