Human Trafficking constitutes a grave violation of human rights. Article 3, paragraph (a) of the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons defines Trafficking in Persons as the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation. Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs. The phenomenon affects the countries of Global South in a more severe manner.
Non-Aligned Movement, representing the largest voice of Global South in international order, has expressed concerns at the rising rate of human trafficking and has called for a concerted response to the problem both as the national as well as international level. NAM has welcomed the efforts of the international community in this regard and has called on all segments of the society to formulate measures to combat the menace of human trafficking. In this context, NAM fully supports the Athenian Ethical Principles adopted by the international business community in Athens in 2006 to combat human trafficking and participate in anti-trafficking efforts.
The Athens Ethical Principles focus on seven main areas:
1) Establishing a Zero Tolerance Policy towards trafficking in human being, especially women and children for sexual exploitation – In order the achieve this goal, companies should ensure freedom of movement of employees and the right of employees to enter and leave employment voluntarily and willingly.
2) Contributing to prevention of trafficking in human beings including awareness-raising campaigns and education – This call for the companies to participate in anti-trafficking awareness campaigns and organize public education campaigns on the issue of human trafficking, including the distribution of written material and cooperation with chambers of commerce and employer and employee-representative groups to disseminate information.
3) Developing a corporate strategy for an anti-trafficking- Companies should engage in collective strategic planning that includes corporate social responsibility advisors, supply chain managers, and senior leadership to create an action plan to prevent/combat trafficking in the company’s supply chains, including independent metrics for evaluation and disclosure to stockholders, and also ensure that company standards meet or exceed national anti-trafficking laws or International Labour Organisation (ILO) standards, whichever is more stringent;
4) Ensuring that the company personnel fully comply with the Anti-Trafficking Policy – In order to achieve this objective, companies should seek independent external monitoring and verification of compliance with the company’s code of conduct/standards at least annually, including unannounced audits, from a reputable/recognized organization. Those engaged in independent monitoring and verification should take all reasonable steps, such as securing anonymity of those interviewed, to ensure that the processes do not compromise the safety or job security of workers or others involved in the audits;
5) Encourage business partners, including suppliers, to apply ethical principles against human trafficking – This objective call for conducting an initial risk assessment of the company’s business partners and suppliers to determine the degree to which they adhere to national laws and employ practices consistent with good industry standards. Companies are also encouraged to train or employ former human trafficking victims and provide skills development, mentorship, and internship programs.
6) Government Advocacy – In an effort to increase enforcement, it is necessary to call on governments to initiate a process of revision of laws and regulations that are directly or indirectly related to enhancing anti-trafficking policies. In order to achieve this, companies must Cooperate with law enforcement whenever human trafficking is discovered in the company’s supply chains and leverage market power in sourcing decisions and factory siting to reward governments that enforce anti-trafficking laws and provide victim protection.
7) Transparency – Companies should report and share information on best practices. They must make public their code of conduct and mandate new employee orientations on the company’s code of conduct/standard
Thus, through supporting the Athens Ethical Principles, NAM, in turn, supports the efforts of the private sector in combating the serious issues of human trafficking.