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Statement on the Global Commission on Modern Slavery

The Global Commission is a timely response to the serious lack of global political leadership on modern slavery.

Published: 6th October 2023

The Modern Slavery and Human Rights Policy and Evidence Centre welcomes the establishment of the Global Commission on Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking, chaired by former UK Prime Minister Theresa May.

The establishing of the Commission is intended to put the issue back at the top of the political agenda by providing high level political leadership, mobilising the evidence and knowledge base, and facilitating international collaborations and partnerships.

Other prominent figures, such as survivor and campaigner Sophie Otiende, Walk Free founder Grace Forrest, and former UN Under Secretary-General and International Criminal Court member Adama Dieng will serve on the Commission. The Commission is planning to embed people with lived experience of modern slavery in its work and governance.

The establishment of the Commission has been guided by the scoping study examining the case for establishing such a Commission, commissioned by the Office of Theresa May and carried out by the Modern Slavery PEC. The Scoping Study was funded by the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office.

The Scoping Study report found that the Covid-19 pandemic, new and protracted armed conflicts and the direct effects of climate change have dramatically increased vulnerability to exploitation and modern slavery. Yet despite global agreement on the aim to eradicate modern slavery by 2030 in the Sustainable Development Goals, there is a widespread sense that efforts to end modern slavery have lost political momentum.

The Scoping Study concluded that there is a compelling need for a Global Commission on Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking. The report stressed the need to meaningfully include survivors, as well as actors from all regions of the world, in its work and governance structures.

The team carrying out the Scoping Study met with more than 50 actors working to address modern slavery across the world, including global and regional intergovernmental bodies, international human rights groups, survivor organisations, civil society organisations and businesses. It also conducted a survey of comparable global commissions, a literature review of evidence identifying potential priority areas of intervention, and a wide consultation on how best to embed people with lived experience in the work and governance of a potential Global Commission. A further round of stakeholder engagement was carried out following the publication of the Scoping Study, to gather views on its recommendations.

The Commission is aiming to publish its initial report by spring 2025 and will present the report to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

Murray Hunt, the Director of the Modern Slavery PEC and a member of the Global Commission Steering Group, said:

“The Global Commission is a timely response to the serious lack of global political leadership on modern slavery and human trafficking, as demonstrated by the relative lack of attention it received at the recent meeting of the G20 in New Delhi and the SDG Summit in New York.

“A well thought through initiative to address this deficit in global political leadership is very welcome, especially one that is also committed to building and mobilising the evidence and knowledge base to support such efforts to catalyse political action at the global level.

“Addressing modern slavery, especially on a global scale, requires sound evidence on what works in practice and on how complex structural factors make people vulnerable to exploitation. It also needs expertise coming from lived experience.

“We look forward to continuing to work with the Global Commission to support the development and mobilisation of this evidence base, with lived experience embedded at its heart.”

You can read more about the Commission on its website at modernslaverycommission.org.

Read the report from the scoping study assessing the case for a Global Commission on Modern Slavery: