Modern slavery exists today in many forms, including forced labor, involuntary servitude, debt bondage, human trafficking and child labor. According to the Walk Free Foundation’s Global Slavery
Index, published with input from the United Nations’ International Labor Organization and the International Organization for Migration (IOM), as of 2016, an estimated 40.3 million men, women and children were trapped in modern slavery, including 24.9 million people who were victims of forced labor including in global supply chains.
Slavery is, of course, not the only issue affecting global supply chains. As tragically demonstrated by the 2012 fire at the Tazreen Fashions garment factory in Bangladesh that killed at least 111 people, and the 2013 Rana Plaza building collapse in Bangladesh that killed over 1,130 people and injured more than 2,500 people, substandard and unsafe working conditions in factories in which goods are manufactured by low cost labor can result in the same types of risks, and human misery.
An increasing number of national governments around the world have proposed or enacted legislation to address this issue, thus creating new areas of potential legal exposure to multinational companies. Our article — Global Efforts to Combat Human Rights Abuses in Supply Chains — highlights new regulations around the world protecting human rights, particularly those of laborers, in the context of global supply chains, and recommends ways for multinational companies to examine whether they have obligations to take action under these new laws and become compliant if they do.
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