Human Trafficking: Everybody's Business

graph on private sector26 March 2009 - The increased global scope of corporate activity today demands that businesses remain attentive to the many ways their operations can both positively and negatively affect human rights around the world. Although the connection between business and human trafficking may not be initially evident, human trafficking should be of pressing concern to companies - especially those with international operations and/or complex supply and production chains.

The increasingly complex composition of corporate activity, with various supplier and subcontractor relationships, challenges the ability of companies to monitor their activities around the world. However, because human trafficking violates international human rights norms and laws, often defies international labor standards, and regularly involves corruption, businesses should ensure that all elements of their operations, including their products, premises and services are not contributing to human trafficking. Doing so enables companies to manage risk and ensure that their reputation and integrity remain intact. Further, companies should consider ways to help eliminate the existence of human trafficking through the promotion of codes of conduct and corporate social responsibility in an effort to enhance stakeholder relationships and improve business environment.

In order to better understand corporate perceptions and concerns regarding human trafficking, raise awareness of the issues, and determine how the UN system can more effectively support business efforts to combat the problem, the UN Global Compact, UN.GIFT and the ILO teamed up to produce and administer a 'Private Sector Survey on Human Trafficking'.

While companies did indicate that they were aware of human trafficking and there was a general consensus amongst participants that human trafficking is morally unacceptable, the relationship between business and human trafficking proved less evident to those who took the survey.

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