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Assessing the UN’s response to modern slavery and human trafficking in conflict

Press release
November 14, 2016

London: While the international community has taken important steps to address modern slavery and human trafficking resulting from conflict, a new report by the Freedom Fund, “Modern Slavery and Trafficking in Conflict: The UN’s Response,” finds that much more needs to be done by the United Nations and member states to protect the world’s most vulnerable.

Across the world, conflict and other humanitarian disasters are creating unprecedented levels of human flight. As they struggle to survive, the displaced, including refugees and other migrants, are especially vulnerable to extreme forms of exploitation such as forced labour, modern slavery and human trafficking.

This report examining the United Nations’ response to modern slavery and trafficking in conflict finds that it has been fragmented and uncoordinated, and warns that the anti-slavery momentum built over the past year will be squandered without high-level UN leadership, greater member state engagement and focussed interagency cooperation.

Nick Grono, CEO of the Freedom Fund said: “While the anti-slavery movement has begun to make significant progress in recent years, the response is yet nowhere near equal to the challenge. But the focus of UN and world leaders on modern slavery does provide a foundation to build upon. The UN Security Council can show its genuine commitment to tackle slavery in conflict by ensuring that the issue remains high on its agenda.”

Among its recommendations, the report urges the UN Security Council to pass a resolution establishing an annual thematic debate to explore the links between modern slavery, human trafficking and threats to international security. The report also calls for the appointment of a UN Special Coordinator on Modern Slavery tasked with providing coherent and strategic leadership to the UN’s anti-slavery efforts. And the report highlights the need for closer collaboration between anti-slavery experts and humanitarian practitioners working in conflict zones to help close the gap between high level commitments in Western capitals and the reality on the ground for vulnerable people in crisis.

“All parts of the UN system, its member states, and civil society will need to work strategically together much more effectively if we are to see real progress,” Grono said. “And it’s only with this kind of commitment and focus that the UN will be able to effectively tackle the enslavement of victims of conflict.”

For further details, contact:
Anna de Courcy Wheeler (London), [email protected], + 44 203 077 2158

Kate Kennedy (New York), [email protected], + 1 347 284 9172

About the Freedom Fund:
The Freedom Fund is the world’s first private philanthropic initiative dedicated to ending modern slavery. Its mission is to mobilise the knowledge and resources needed to achieve this. With an expert team and global perspective, the Freedom Fund identifies and invests in the most effective frontline efforts to end slavery in the countries and sectors it is most prevalent.

Its approach is to focus on hotspots—defined geographic regions with a high concentration of slavery—and target resources to frontline organisations closest to the problem.

Its country-based experts visit high-risk areas to identify the grassroots partners and systemic initiatives that are having the biggest impact in protecting those at risk from slavery, enabling liberation and recovery of those already enslaved, and bringing those responsible to justice. It works closely with partners to help them improve their results and rigorously measure their outcomes.

Photo credit: UN Photo/Yubi Hoffmann

Written by
The Freedom Fund