On 15 June 2016, during the European Development Days (EDD), BSCI was invited to host the panel ‘How Do Businesses Fight Against Human Trafficking?’ The session gave insights into the complexities involved in businesses respecting human rights when supplying from multiple countries, with varying political regimes and levels of freedoms. How can collaborative actions support in finding solutions towards a gradual positive impact?
The interactive session was moderated by Veronica Rubio, BSCI Senior Strategic Issues Manager and insights were shared by Lea Rankinen, FTA Board member and Senior Vice President of Sustainability at S-Group, a Finnish retailing cooperative and Sonja Vartiala, Executive Director of Finnwatch, a civil society corporate responsibility organisation. Together they debated the role of the business community in delivering tangible changes in regards to human rights and how to honour their responsibilities towards society.Following the 2012 Finnwatch report ‘Cheap has a High Price’, which shed light on serious human rights violations taking place in Thailand’s tuna and pineapple industry, Lea and Sonja provided a practical approach on how they worked together to have a positive impact. The report revealed a complex web of factors at play, including labour shortages and the parallel reliance on migrant workers, and lack of labour inspectors.
The successful session drew on actions to encourage positive impact in supply chains, including the importance of creating transparency at all levels and the need for increased legislation to support implementation of human rights. In addition, concrete actions can be carried out such as training and awareness raising at every tier of the supply chain. Increased impact can be achieved with a multiplier effect through collaborative actions and open dialogue, including with NGOs and civil society.
During the session, it was highlighted that human trafficking represents a $150 billion industry, impacting around 45.8 million people. Most affected are aged between 18 and 24 years of age and 95% of those experience physical and sexual violence. BSCI regards human trafficking or ‘bonded labour’ as one of the core 11 Code of Conduct principles, which participants and their business partners commit to implementing within their supply chains in a step-by-step development approach.
Contact: Veronica Rubio, BSCI Senior Strategic Issues Manager