2020 G20 Interfaith Forum Policy Brief

Modern Slavery and human trafficking

Summary, November 4, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic amplifies the urgent need for G20 leaders to combat modern slavery on the local, national, and international levels. Now more than ever, countries need to develop, expand, and enforce comprehensive anti-trafficking measures, assist and protect victims. At the same time they must address the underlying economic and social causes of human trafficking. Such measures should be integral elements of the 2020 G20 Presidency Agenda that calls on its G20 members to “promote the equality of opportunities, especially for underserved groups,” including “encouraging equality jobs and social protection.”

Of the estimated over 40 million people subjected to modern slavery (in every world region), 25 million are victims of forced labor and 15 million of forced marriage. Global demand for cheap goods and commercial sex fuels illegal trafficking rings, impeding economic growth for lawabiding businesses and curtailing legitimate employment opportunities for millions of people. Poverty, armed conflict, poor access to education and legal employment, and the ongoing COVID-19 crisis all heighten the risks that traffickers will target the vulnerable. Strong multilateral commitments promise action to address the issue, including Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 8.7, which calls for the eradication of modern slavery and human trafficking by 2030. Numerous challenges, however, remain to dismantle the economic, political, and social structures that allow modern slavery to flourish.

Religious leaders and faith organizations of different kinds are among the most prominent voices today speaking out against slavery and trafficking. With their ability to speak to the moral stakes of the issue and to collaborate across political, cultural, and geographic lines faith actors are well-positioned to shape societal attitudes toward trafficking, contribute to prevention efforts, and provide psychosocial, financial, and legal assistance to victims. By exchanging resources and expertise with faith actors, G20 countries can strengthen national and international responses to modern slavery.

This policy brief highlights the main issues surrounding modern slavery and human trafficking in the world today, with a focus on faith engagement on these issues. It draws on research from print and online sources from governmental, non-profit, and private sectors; most come from English language sources. Recommendations for G20 leaders as they engage during the 2020 G20 Summit in Saudi Arabia point to specific areas for action.

Click here for the G20 Interfaith Forum supporting documents

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