A Message of Hope in Advance of World Day against Trafficking in Persons

URecognizing the need for strong, concerted efforts to end this crime against humanity, The UN General Assembly declared July 30 “World Day against Trafficking in Persons,” a day for us to assess progress, review commitments, and most of all, to remember survivors and pray for those who are trapped in bondage.

While there are hopeful signs of progress – in 2017, there have been 10,000 convictions of human traffickers around the globe – the number of human trafficking, forced labour and sexual exploitation victims remains at a stubborn 21 million victims worldwide.

We are doing our part – CBIS started its work to eliminate human trafficking immediately following the results of our 2008 survey of CBIS participants that clearly identified the topic as a top issue of concern. Armed with this information, we set about to create a leading corporate engagement program. Over the past ten years, CBIS has participated in Congressional briefings in support of anti-trafficking legislation, called on World Cup and Olympic sponsors to strengthen anti-trafficking policies, and successfully encouraged companies to sign codes of conduct against sexual exploitation and commit to recruit workers using ethical standards.

More recently, in part thanks to our urging, The Campbell Soup Company (“Campbell”) issued a new Code of Conduct for Suppliers due to concerns about forced labor in the palm plantations in Indonesia and Malaysia. It sets as a baseline a prohibition on slave labor, bonded labor, and any form of forced labor and human trafficking. It calls for strict audits of high-risk suppliers, forbids labor brokers from charging workers fees or retaining passports so workers have freedom of movement, and requires suppliers to spell out in local languages the terms and conditions of employment.

We applaud Campbell’s commitment to ensure its palm oil is ethically sourced, and we expect to meet with the company in the fall to discuss the rollout of the Code to suppliers in order to better understand implementation, effectiveness and adherence.

CBIS is not alone in its work to address human trafficking. In 2016, the United Nations’ 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda was adopted by world leaders and set 17 Sustainable Development Goals, or SDGs, that aim to build economic growth and address a range of social issues. To call attention to what Pope Francis has described as “an open wound on the body of contemporary society, a scourge upon the body of Christ,” the SDGs include the goal to end human trafficking and violence against and exploitation of children. Target 8.7 commits countries to

Take immediate and effective measures to eradicate forced labour, end modern slavery and human trafficking and secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labour, including recruitment and use of child soldiers, and by 2025 end child labour in all its forms.

To continue our leading work with companies, over the next two years CBIS will be encouraging companies in our portfolio to make strides in the implementation of the SDGs and will be tracking accomplishments and engaging with leaders and laggards. We look forward to reporting on our goals and progress in 2018.

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