OSCE Highlights Private Sector's Role at Anti-Trafficking Event in Bulgaria


More than 50 public officials, business and civil society representatives gathered in Sofia to discuss collaborative efforts in addressing human trafficking for the purpose of labour exploitation. Hosted by the Office of the OSCE Special Representative and Co-ordinator for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings and the Council of Europe's Anti-Trafficking Division, and supported by the Bulgarian National Commission for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings, the event encouraged dialogue and intensified action towards implementing ethical supply chains in Bulgaria.

Held on 28 May 2024, the conference addressed the critical role of the private sector in overcoming these challenges and presented policy and legal developments in human rights due diligence. It also facilitated the exchange of best practices and lessons learned for identifying and mitigating human trafficking and labour exploitation risks in supply chains. The event brought together representatives from governmental bodies, private sector stakeholders, business associations, chambers of commerce, labour inspectors, procurement practitioners, trade unions, civil society, diplomatic representatives, and international organizations.

"Trafficking for the purpose of labour exploitation may occur in all sectors of the economy, at different stages of businesses' supply chains, and as a consequence of public procurement practices. Combating this form of trafficking requires co-ordinated action between states, businesses, non-governmental organizations and trade unions as well as the support of free media", noted Petya Nestorova, Head of the Anti-trafficking Division of the Council of Europe.

"Government policies should ensure a coordinated and effective approach to due diligence, providing businesses with appropriate laws and guidance to prevent direct or indirect involvement in human trafficking," said Vanya Stoyneva, Head of the Political Office of the Deputy Prime Minister of Bulgaria and Chairperson of the National Commission for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings (NCCTHB).

On 29 May, the Business Roundtable on Human Rights Due Diligence took place in partnership with the UN Global Compact Bulgaria Network and the German Helpdesk Business and Human Rights. This roundtable provided an interactive platform for detailed discussions on human rights due diligence, focusing on the impact of political and legal developments for the private sector, including the newly approved EU Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive (CSDDD). Participants gained insights from experts on improving compliance with human rights standards and explored support mechanisms to enhance their due diligence practices.

"Collaboration with the private sector is essential, not just beneficial. Through increased engagement and collaboration with businesses, we can make significant progress in addressing human rights abuses in the supply chain, including human trafficking for labour exploitation," said Julia Schellhaas, Senior Adviser for Supply Chains from the Office of the OSCE Special Representative and Co-ordinator for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings

The connected events underscored the crucial role of the private sector in combatting human trafficking and labour exploitation. They also highlighted the need for joint efforts from public and private entities to foster ethical supply chains.

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