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Official opening of the Modern Slavery PEC

Press release: Global conference on assisting survivors marks the opening of the new Modern Slavery and Human Rights Policy and Evidence Centre.

Published: 14th September 2020

A global conference on assisting and supporting survivors of modern slavery will mark the opening of the new Modern Slavery and Human Rights Policy and Evidence Centre (Modern Slavery PEC).

The Virtual International Conference: Assisting and Protecting Survivors of Modern Slavery, Human Trafficking & Forced Labour, organised in partnership with the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association UK (CPA UK), will take place online on 15 & 16 September 2020.

The conference will mark the official opening of the Modern Slavery and Human Rights Policy and Evidence Centre, or Modern Slavery PEC, funded and actively supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), created to enhance the understanding of modern slavery and transform the effectiveness of laws and policies designed to overcome it.

The event will bring together individuals and organisations from more than 30 countries working directly with survivors, parliamentarians, government officials, researchers and civil society organisations. It aims to increase the knowledge and understanding of the support and protection systems needed for survivors of modern slavery, examining existing approaches and inspiring targeted future work, including new research.

Confirmed speakers include the former UK Prime Minister Theresa May, UK Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner Dame Sara Thornton, UN Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Slavery Prof Tomoya Obokata, human rights barrister and world-leading expert on law related to human trafficking Prof Parosha Chandran, and Chair of the Independent Review of the Modern Slavery Act Frank Field, amongst many other high profile speakers.

The event will also feature many survivor advocates from across the world, with putting survivors at the heart of decision making to address modern slavery being a major theme of the conference.

New Modern Slavery and Human Rights Policy and Evidence Centre

Modern slavery is an issue that affects millions worldwide, yet it is not widely understood or adequately addressed by existing laws and policies. There’s a gap that exists between the high-quality academic research and the world of policymaking and law-making, as well as frontline work with people directly affected by modern slavery.

The Modern Slavery and Human Rights Policy and Evidence Centre, or Modern Slavery PEC, was created to address these issues and transform the effectiveness of laws and policies designed to prevent it.

The Centre commissions research to provide innovative and authoritative insight on modern slavery, with the aim of driving real policy change rooted in human rights. It has already opened two calls for research on modern slavery survivor recovery and support and on the impact of COVID-19.

The Modern Slavery PEC brings together academics, policymakers, businesses, civil society and the public on a scale not seen before in the UK to solve this global challenge, building an inclusive “network of networks” to facilitate new collaborations capable of generating innovative solutions to modern slavery. The Centre has also launched an inclusive consultation to inform the development of its research priorities for the next five years and beyond.

Led by the Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law and funded by the Art and Humanities Research Council on behalf of UK Research and Innovation, the Centre is a consortium of six universities and Independent Research Organisations.

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Rt Hon. Theresa May MP, who introduced the Bill which led to the passing of the Modern Slavery Act and who will be a keynote speaker at the conference, stated:

“I believe modern slavery is the biggest human rights issue of our time. It reaches into every corner of our lives – in the clothes we wear, the food we eat and the services we pay for.

"The fact that it is a global issue means that we can’t be satisfied with seeking to address it on our own doorstep but must instead work with partners around the world and in every sphere so that the UN’s goal of ending modern slavery by 2030 is achieved.”

Director of the Modern Slavery PEC Murray Hunt said:

"Collaboration is at the heart of Modern Slavery PEC’s work and this conference is a perfect start to our work on bringing together survivors, researchers, policymakers, legislators, civil society, businesses and the public to work towards eradicating modern slavery.

“We want to create a world where people are protected from modern slavery by effective, evidence-based policies. The opening of the Modern Slavery PEC marks a new chapter in our ability to respond to this issue.”

Professor Christopher Smith, AHRC Executive Chair said:

“The Modern Slavery Policy and Evidence Centre is the first of its kind in the world, and was designed to bring together researchers, policymakers, businesses, charities and NGOs.

“The Centre’s collaborative and innovative research is playing a vital role in the important effort to eradicate modern slavery and bring positive change at a global level.”

Jon Davies, CEO of CPA UK, said:

“At CPA UK, we know from our work with Commonwealth partners on legislation and advocacy just how vital it is to listen to survivors’ stories. That has shaped our whole approach to this Conference, on which we’re delighted to be working with the new Modern Slavery and Human Rights Policy and Evidence Centre.”

Notes to editors.

For further information about the Modern Slavery and Human Rights Policy and Evidence Centre please contact Modern Slavery PEC’s Communications Director Jakub Sobik at j.sobik@modernslaverypec.org or on 07912145610.

Please note, it will be possible to report from all general sessions. However, it won’t be possible to report from the breakout sessions, which will operate on the Chatham House rules basis.

The Modern Slavery and Human Rights Policy and Evidence Centre is led by the Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law (part of the British Institute of International and Comparative Law) and is a consortium of universities and Independent Research Organisations consisting of the Rights Lab at the University of Nottingham, the Wilberforce Institute at the University of Hull, the Centre for the Study of International Slavery at the University of Liverpool, the Bonavero Institute on Human Rights at the University of Oxford and the Alan Turing Institute.

The Centre is funded by the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Strategic Priorities Fund delivered by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) with support from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) works in partnership with universities, research organisations, businesses, charities, and government to create the best possible environment for research and innovation to flourish.

The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), part of UKRI, funds internationally outstanding independent researchers across the whole range of the arts and humanities: history, archaeology, digital content, philosophy, languages and literature, design, heritage, area studies, the creative and performing arts, and much more. The quality and range of research supported by AHRC works for the good of UK society and culture and contributes both to UK economic success and to the culture and welfare of societies across the globe.

CPA UK supports and strengthens parliamentary democracy throughout the Commonwealth. It focuses on key themes including women in parliament, modern slavery, financial oversight, security and trade. Peer to peer learning is central to the way CPA UK works bringing together UK and Commonwealth parliamentarians and officials to share knowledge and learn from each other.