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Commissioner Andor welcomes adoption of new international standards to protect victims of forced labour and seafarers

Commissioner Andor welcomes adoption of new international standards to protect victims of forced labour and seafarers © Shutterstock / Ragne Kabanova

László Andor, European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion has welcomed the adoption by the International Labour Organization (ILO) of two new international instruments to combat forced labour, and the approval of important amendments to the ILO's Maritime Labour Convention.

The new standards were adopted at today's plenary session of the 103rd International Labour Conference, taking place in Geneva from 28 May to 12 June 2014.

New Protocol and Recommendation on Forced labour

The International Labour Conference adopted a new Protocol and a new Recommendation to supplement the Forced Labour Convention.

These instruments provide measures to prevent the use of forced labour, in particular in the context of trafficking in human beings.

These measures

  • require signatory countries to improve the protection of victims;
  • provide access to appropriate and effective remedies, such as compensation;
  • and enhance international cooperation in the fight against forced or compulsory labour.

The ILO estimates that today over 21 million people are victims of forced or compulsory labour, which generates US$ 150 billion in illegal profits per year.

The Forced Labour Convention is a milestone of international labour law and has been ratified by all 28 EU Member States. However, it was originally established in 1930 and now needs to take account of how the phenomenon of forced labour has changed.

Improvements to ILO Maritime Labour Convention

The amendments agreed to the 2006 Maritime Labour Convention aim to further protect seafarers from abandonment and ensure rapid compensation in case of death or disability. The Commission has supported the introduction of these new provisions, which were backed by the EU's Council of Ministers on 26 May 2014.

Under the new provisions, ships will be required to carry certificates or other documents to establish that financial security exists to protect seafarers working on board. Failure to provide this proof of protection may be grounds for a ship to be detained in port.

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