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Migrant Workers

UN Aims to End Forced Labor in the Supply Chain

With 25 million people under forced labor, the UN and the Responsible Business Alliance have joined to protect the rights of migrant workers.

According to the latest global estimates on modern slavery, approximately 25 million people worldwide are working in situations of forced labor.

Unethical recruitment is a root cause of forced labor, as many migrant workers are subject to high recruitment fees, personal debt, complicated recruitment practices, a lack of transparency about their eventual working conditions, and inadequate legal protections in the countries in which they work.

To address this issue IOM, the UN Migration Agency and the Responsible Business Alliance (RBA), formerly the Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on October 17 to boost cooperation, promote ethical recruitment and protect the rights of migrant workers.

“The exploitation of migrant workers often begins at the recruitment stage when workers are charged predatory recruitment fees or provided with misleading information about the job on offer,” said Marina Manke, IOM Head of the Labour Mobility and Human Development Division.

“It is imperative that governments, civil society and the private sector work together to stop this exploitation and to change the current international recruitment model. We are therefore pleased to be working with the RBA on this important issue,” added Manke.

Thes MoU provides a formal framework for IOM and RBA to pursue shared goals and objectives through the exchange of information, subject matter expertise and connecting global networks. This includes coordinating the objectives and technical aspects of the RBA’s Responsible Labor Initiative (RLI) and the International Recruitment Integrity System (IRIS), which is being developed by IOM and a consortium of partners, as well as IOM and RBA training and other capacity-building initiatives and special projects.

IOM’s IRIS is a voluntary multi-stakeholder certification system for international recruitment intermediaries. It is comprised of an international standard, certification scheme and a compliance and monitoring mechanism. RBA’s RLI is a multi-industry, multi-stakeholder initiative that brings together members, suppliers, recruitment partners and stakeholders to use their collective influence and application of due diligence to drive the transformation of recruitment markets and reduce the risk of forced labor in global supply chains.

 “The combination of IOM’s IRIS and the RLI’s Labor Agency Maturity Model with stepped levels of compliance toward certification is a robust tool in the fight against forced labor,” said Rob Lederer, executive director of the Responsible Business Alliance.

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