UN Human Rights Council 42 – General Comment Contemporary Forms of Slavery

Julian Braithwaite

On behalf of the main sponsors, Australia and the United Kingdom, I have the honour to introduce draft resolution L9 entitled Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Slavery.

The main purpose of this draft is to renew the mandate of the Special Rapporteur which was created by the Council 12 years ago.
At that the time it filled a clear gap on addressing a particularly egregious human rights violation which the UN human rights system was not looking at.

We have seen international attention to slavery grow substantially in recent years, especially through recognition of the need to take immediate and effective measures to eradicate forced labour, end modern slavery in Sustainable Development goal Target 8.7.

But regrettably, the reported levels of slavery remain extremely high with international estimates of 40 million people worldwide. As the Special Rapporteur’s latest report makes clear, 10 000 people a day would need to be freed from slavery in order to achieve a slavery free world by 2030.

Slavery is a problem which exists in all countries and addressing modern slavery has been a major priority for my the main sponsors both domestically and internationally. We as the UK recognise that we face serious challenges, and believe that all states need to take much more action, with a great deal more urgency if we are all to meet the target we set ourselves in SDG target 8.7.

Talking to states about slavery as a human rights issue is extremely sensitive, but this mandate has shown that with the right approach, states can be willing to discuss and confront their slavery challenges.

We wish to acknowledge all of those governments who have engaged with the Special Rapporteur since the mandate was last renewed. We appreciate how difficult it can be for a state to accept that slavery exists within its territory. But such recognition is a vital first step to stopping slavery.

Draft resolution L9 recognizes the important role of the UN voluntary Trust Fund on Contemporary Forms of Slavery which provides crucial assistance to victims of slavery, but which is facing severe funding challenges. I am pleased to announce that he UK will give a further contrition to this fund of $100 000 in the coming days.

We also wish to thank the many states from all regions who have co-sponsored this resolution. We believe that this reflects the broad support which this mandate enjoys, and we hope that the Council will adopt draft resolution L9 by consensus.

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