Responsible Business Conduct

Ending human trafficking and modern-day slavery will take a multi-sectoral effort. Both consumers and businesses have a key role in combating this crime.

The Role of Consumers

Governments are huge consumers, and some are using their purchasing power to discourage the use of forced labor.

  • The United States, for example, issued Executive Order 13627 “Strengthening Protections Against Trafficking in Persons in Federal Contracts” that was codified as a final rule in the Federal Acquisition Register in 2015.
  • The OSCE hosted a conference on Modern Slavery, Forced Labor and Human Trafficking in Public Procurement Supply Chains which identified high-risk sectors, key stakeholders, and recommendations.

Individual consumers can educate themselves on the practices of companies and opt to support those with good practices and put pressure on companies that have forced labor in their supply chain.

  • My Slavery Footprint can give you an idea of how your lifestyle supports forced labor.
  • To learn about company practices, the Business and Human Rights Resource Center compiles information on this topic.

The Role of Business

Businesses can make an impact on human trafficking through their philanthropic and volunteer activities which are generally referred to as Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).  More importantly, they can take action to root out human trafficking in their own supply chains.  These efforts fall under the terms Responsible Business Conduct (RBC) and Business and Human Rights (BHR).

  • The UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, which were endorsed by the UN Human Rights Council in 2011, sets out the protect, respect, remedy framework – namely that governments have a duty to protect against business-related human rights abuses, that businesses have a responsibility to respect human rights, and that when rights are abused there must be access to remedy.
  • Businesses have the responsibility to respect human rights, including the fundamental rights set out in the International Labor Organization’s Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work (freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining; the elimination of all forms of forced or compulsory labor; the effective abolition of child labor; the elimination of discrimination in respect of employment and occupation; and a right to a safe and healthy working environment).
  • The OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises set out recommendations by governments to multinational corporations. The Guidelines were updated in 2011.
    • Chapter V lays out recommendations with respect to employment and industrial relations. Paragraph 1(d) calls for enterprises to “contribute to the elimination of all forms of forced or compulsory labor and take adequate steps to ensure that forced or compulsory labor does not exist in their operations.” To help companies operationalize the Guidelines, the OECD produced Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Business Conduct


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