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International Labour Organization: Forced Labor Protocol Enters into Effect

(Nov. 17, 2016) On November 9, 2016, the International Labour Organization (ILO) announced that its International Protocol P029 of 2014 to the Convention Concerning Forced or Compulsory Labour (the Forced Labour Convention of 1930) had officially entered into force. On the same date, Argentina became the ninth country to ratify the Protocol. (Aaron Christenson, International Protocol Targeting Forced Labor Comes into Force, PAPER CHASE (Nov. 11, 2016); P029 – Protocol of 2014 to the Forced Labour Convention, 1930 (P029) (adopted June 11, 2014, in force Nov. 9, 2016), NORMLEX.)

After two years of consultation, the Protocol was adopted by the International Labour Conference in June 2014, along with a Recommendation, the Forced Labour (Supplementary Measures) Recommendation (No. 203), 2014. (ILO STANDARDS ON FORCED LABOUR: THE NEW PROTOCOL AND RECOMMENDATION AT A GLANCE 1 (2016) ILO website.) According to the ILO,

The Protocol and Recommendation bring ILO standards against forced labour into the modern era. The new Protocol establishes the obligations to prevent forced labour, protect victims and provide them with access to remedies, and emphasizes the link between forced labour and trafficking in persons. In line with Convention No. 29, the Protocol also reaffirms the importance of prosecuting the perpetrators of forced labour and ending their impunity. The Recommendation provides orientations and guidelines to implement these obligations.

The Protocol and Recommendation will complement and strengthen existing international law, including the UN Slavery Convention of 1926, the Supplementary Convention on the Abolition of Slavery, the Slave Trade, and Institutions and Practices Similar to Slavery of 1956 and the UN Protocol to prevent, suppress and punish trafficking in persons, especially women and children. (Id. at 3; for a review of some of the Protocol’s provisions, see Constance Johnson, International Labour Organization: Forced Labor Protocol to Come into Effect Next Year, GLOBAL LEGAL MONITOR (Dec. 3, 2015).)

The Protocol has now entered into force for Niger and Norway, the first two states to ratify the agreement, but for the other seven States Parties it will not become effective until various dates in 2017. (P029, supra.)   The date of entry into force was based on receipt of the protocol’s second ratification, from Norway, in November 2015; it was set to occur 12 months after that second ratification was received by the ILO. (Johnson, supra.)

According to the ILO, 178 of its 187 Member States have ratified the Forced Labour Convention, while 173 of the Member States have ratified the Convention Concerning the Abolition of Forced Labour of 1957. (C029 – Forced Labour Convention, 1930 (No. 29) (June 28, 1930, in force May 1, 1932), NORMLEX; C105 – Abolition of Forced Labour Convention, 1957 (No. 105) (adopted June 25, 1957, entered into force Jan. 17, 1959), NORMLEX.) The 1957 Convention aims to complement the 1930 Convention by focusing on five post-World War II practices that had emerged: “forced labour as punishment for the expression of political views, for the purposes of economic development, for participation in strikes, as a means of racial or other discrimination or as labour discipline,” and “primarily concerns forced labour imposed by state authorities.” (ILO STANDARDS ON FORCED LABOUR: THE NEW PROTOCOL AND RECOMMENDATION AT A GLANCE, supra, at 4.)