Slavery can be eradicated from commerce. After committing to achieve eradication with certainty, a business must agree to adopt and engage in a program called the Six Steps to Freedom. By engaging fully and in good faith in this program, a business can ensure, with certainty, that slavery has been eradicated from its supply chains and its commercial activity.
Each of the Six Steps is critical and each is dependent on the other five. The Six Steps to Freedom are grounded in the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. Important elements are modeled after the Coalition of Immokalee Workers' Fair Food Program, the Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety, the OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains of Minerals from Conflict-Affected and High-Risk Areas, ILO Conventions, and the research, agreements, and other work of numerous stakeholders concerned with these issues, including the presently inactive Slave-Free Commerce Coalition.
Those of us who are Christians are celebrating the birth of a descendant of slaves, who was born in a stable and who, with his family, would soon be a refugee in another country. One of the ways we celebrate Christmas is by exchanging gifts a custom that some believe echos the gifts brought to baby Jesus by the wise men so very long ago.
As we ponder the message of Christmas, however we might interpret it, perhaps we can give some thought to the millions who are enslaved around the world - more than ever before in human history. For these slaves there is no Christmas celebration, no day of rest, no gifts. Just another day of relentless toil as a slave.
As we give and receive gifts, perhaps we should consider how many slaves worked to get that gift to us. Love that chocolate candy - were the cocoa beans picked by a child enslaved in Cote d'Ivoire? Gold jewelry is always nice - was the gold mined by slaves in South America or Africa? That cotton blouse is charming - did slaves harve...
It is essential that business adopt and achieve four goals in order to eradicate slavery from commercial supply chains. Issues concerning the best policies, programs, and processes come later. The four goals are: (1) The eradication of slavery through the entire depth of the supply chains, (2) The eradication of slavery across the entire breadth of the supply chains, (3) Certainty that slavery has been eradicated across the entire depth and breadth of the supply chains, and (4) Certainty that slavery does not reappear at anytime and in anyplace in the supply chain. While these goals may seem basic, perhaps even overly simple, businesses have not fully embraced the adoption of these fundamental goals.
Slavery is hidden, insidious, and tenacious. In order to eradicate slavery from supply chains, we must be fully committed to shining a light in every corner, double-checking every circumstance, and taking every step, and then some, to ensure that slavery is not attached...
I have stated, as have others, that the eradication of slavery is within our grasp. I truly believe that we are the generation that will end slavery. But, there is a huge step between the concept of ending slavery and the fact of ending slavery.
I first began to focus on the issue of modern slavery in the early 1990s, when I urged the Committee on International Human Rights of the New York City Bar Association to address this issue. Since that time, modern slavery, in all its forms, has emerged from the shadows as an issue of global importance. Further, governments, inter-governmental entities, and civil society have learned not only about the nature and effect of modern slavery, but how to eradicate it. While there is more to learn, we now know enough about the economic, cultural, political and other foundations of the various forms of modern slavery to attack them effectively wherever they exist.
If we are to end slavery, our first step must be to commit to achieving...
While those of us in the United States prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving, we are reminded of the exploitation of the vulnerable around the world.
Thank you to our friends at the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre for bring our attention to the report linked below that concerns purported child labor in Romania. Children as young as six are reported to work making toys for Kinder Eggs in conditions that have been characterized as "child slavery."
There are numerous challenges with respect to the eradication of slavery from international chains of commerce. Thus, no one knows exactly how many persons are enslaved in some aspect of international commerce. In addition, although slavery is known to exist in the supply chains of numerous products, the presence of slave-tainted material in any particular end product is unknown. For example, we know that some gold is mined by slaves, but slave-mined gold is thought to be a tiny percentage of the gold that is mined world-wide every year. We cannot walk into an electronics store and point to a laptop and state, with any degree of confidence, that that particular laptop contains slave-mined gold.
To further complicate matters, many slave-produced products are fungible, that is, they look the same as and can be exchanged with any other product of the same type. For example, slave-mined gold looks the same and has the same properties as non-slave-mined gold.