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Modern Slavery PEC receives continuation funding and moves to Oxford University

Announcement of the continuation funding for the Modern Slavery and Human Rights Policy and Evidence Centre.

Published: 18th April 2024

The Modern Slavery and Human Rights Policy and Evidence Centre (PEC, or the Centre) has been awarded continuation funding from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC).

The continuation funding enables the PEC to build upon and leverage the impactful policy work it has already completed, support its move to a new host at Oxford University in April 2024, and transition to long-term sustainability beyond AHRC funding.

The Centre will be part of the Humanities Division at Oxford, as part of the University’s vision for the new Schwarzman Centre for the Humanities which is currently being built and will open in 2025. It will continue to work closely with the Bonavero Institute of Human Rights, in keeping with its interdisciplinary nature.

The Universities of Liverpool and Hull will also continue as core partners in the ongoing collaboration since the start of the Centre.

Murray Hunt, Director of the Modern Slavery and Human Rights PEC, said:

“Since 2020 the PEC has established itself as a recognised UK centre of excellence for research and evidence to inform UK policy on modern slavery. We have ambitious plans to grow and develop over the next few years to become a permanent feature in the human rights research and policy landscape both in the UK and globally. We are delighted that Oxford shares this vision for the development of a pioneering policy-influencing centre, providing a respected voice in politically contested areas of policy, and look forward to working closely with them over the coming years to achieve it. I look forward to announcing more soon about our exciting plans.”

Professor Daniel Grimley, Head of the Humanities Division at Oxford, said:

“Hosting the highly respected and impactful Modern Slavery and Human Rights Policy and Evidence Centre is transformational for Oxford. We are committed to ensuring continuity of the Centre’s achievements and its future development, through a network of globally connected partners. Hosting the Centre sits at the heart of our vision for the Schwarzman Centre for the Humanities: to be a creative, innovative and multi-disciplinary hub that champions the value of the humanities in response to major global challenges. The Centre is a pioneer in humanities-led policy-influencing research, and we are delighted to have the opportunity to support its transition to long term sustainability.”

Professor Alison Fell, Dean of the School of Histories, Languages and Cultures at the University of Liverpool, said:

“As one of the PEC’s original consortium partners, and the provider of its Director of Research, the University of Liverpool has been closely involved in its first phase, and we are strongly committed to the PEC’s mission. We have a wealth of expertise to continue to support the PEC from across different Schools and Departments at Liverpool, in areas such as policy analysis, ethical engagement with lived experience, international development and creative arts-based approaches. We look forward to continuing to play a central role in helping to lead the PEC’s ambitious research programme.”

Professor Trevor Burnard, Director of the Wilberforce Institute at the University of Hull and Wilberforce Professor of Slavery and Emancipation, said:

“The Wilberforce Institute is pleased to continue as a core partner of the Modern Slavery and Human Rights Policy and Evidence Centre. We place our extensive work on modern slavery in the context of a deep understanding of historical slavery and the legacies of slavery in contemporary society. We are therefore particularly pleased to see the Centre continue to be funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and move to the Humanities Division at Oxford, and look forward to continuing to play an important part in demonstrating what a humanities-led approach to policy work on modern slavery looks like in practice.”

Professor Kate O’Regan, Director of the Bonavero Institute of Human Rights and Professor of Human Rights Law at the University of Oxford, said:

“The Bonavero Institute has been a consortium partner since the start of the Centre and we are delighted to continue to be centrally involved as it moves to Oxford and embarks on an exciting evolution. We see the Centre as being of profound national and global significance for developing effective policy in this field, properly informed by human rights standards. As a research institute dedicated to research in the broad field of human rights, we look forward to helping the Centre achieve its aspiration of increasing its human rights focus.”

Professor Spyros Maniatis, Director of the British Institute of International and Comparative Law (BIICL), which has hosted the Policy and Evidence Centre during its first phase from 2019 to 2024, said:

“BIICL is proud to have hosted the PEC since its inauguration in 2019 and to have successfully incubated it. We are delighted to see it move to Oxford University in April with continuation funding which will help it to establish its long-term sustainability. The Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law, an integral part of BIICL, will continue as a Project Partner of the PEC, continuing to collaborate closely in our areas of core expertise, including business and human rights, ESG and global supply chains, through our co-funded Research Fellow in Business, Modern Slavery and ESG.”

Murray Hunt added: “I would like to thank BIICL and the Bingham Centre for successfully incubating the Centre, our consortium partners to date, and the many collaborative partners and funded research projects with whom we have talked to, worked with and learned from over the first five years of our existence.”

Eleanor Lyons, Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner, said:

“A key part of my role as Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner is undertaking and supporting research. I am looking forward to continuing my collaboration with the Modern Slavery and Human Rights Policy and Evidence Centre, to collectively improve understanding of modern slavery in the UK and inform policymaking with evidence and data. I am also looking forward to continuing to learn from the Centre’s work on lived experience engagement as I implement my forthcoming Strategic Plan.”

Justin Bedford, the UK’s Modern Slavery Envoy, said:

“I welcome the news that the Modern Slavery and Human Rights Policy and Evidence Centre will continue to produce the sort of high quality, policy-relevant research for which it has become renowned. The PEC has shown that it understands the needs of policymakers for recommendations grounded in rigorous evidence and robust independent analysis. It has played a very significant role in helping to establish the new Global Commission on Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking, which the UK Government supports, and I look forward to this close collaboration continuing as we work together to re-energise the global debate.”

Sophie Otiende, CEO, Global Fund to End Modern Slavery, said:

“The Modern Slavery and Human Rights Policy and Evidence Centre has, in its short life to date, broken the mould in advancing research on modern slavery by being truly innovative in their efforts to create new sources of knowledge and identifying new partners to work on that knowledge. Through their imaginative work with people with lived experience they have become custodians of ethical knowledge production in the modern slavery space. I welcome the PEC’s plans to expand its work internationally and look forward to working with them to discover how the lessons of the innovative work they have been doing in the UK can have more impact globally.”

Former Prime Minister Theresa May, who was instrumental in setting up the Modern Slavery and Human Rights Policy and Evidence Centre and now chairs the Global Commission on Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking, commented:

“As Prime Minister I supported the establishment of the Modern Slavery and Human Rights Policy and Evidence Centre in 2019 to try to bridge the divide between research and policy on modern slavery and I have been pleased to see it develop to become such an important part of the policy landscape. As Chairman of the Global Commission on Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking, I’ve seen the importance that the PEC attaches to rigorous evidence-based research and I look forward to continuing working with the PEC as it moves to its new home at Oxford and embarks on this exciting new phase.”

About the Modern Slavery PEC

The Modern Slavery and Human Rights Policy and Evidence Centre was created in 2019 by the investment of public funding to enhance understanding of modern slavery and transform the effectiveness of laws and policies designed to address it.

The Centre has built a reputation of funding and producing high-quality research, evidence and analysis laser-focused on policy impact. Having funded over 50 research projects, the PEC has built a wealth of evidence with a strong record of influencing policy and practice. You can read about what the Centre has done and the impact it has had in its Impact Report 2023.

The Centre has also been successful in bringing together actors working to address modern slavery from various fields, from academics to policymakers, businesses, civil society, survivors and many others to facilitate new collaborations capable of generating innovative solutions to modern slavery.

This work has been underpinned by strategic efforts to include people with lived experience at the heart of the Centre’s work. These have included consulting survivors on its research priorities from the start, supporting efforts to meaningfully include lived experience in research projects and appointing lived experience engagement roles and a Lived Experience Advisory Panel to embed lived experience in its day-to-day work.