On 7 June 2016, France deposited the instrument of ratification of the Protocol of 2014 to the Forced Labour Convention, 1930, thereby becoming the sixth country to ratify the instrument and following in the footsteps of the United Kingdom and Norway, for Europe, and Niger, Mauritania and Mali, for Africa.
The ratification occurs just one year after the visit of President François Hollande to the International Labour Conference, when the French Head of State personally signed the giant display panel of the ILO “50 for Freedom” campaign which had been installed for the occasion, aimed at encouraging countries to sign the Protocol to have a bigger impact in the fight against forced labour and modern slavery.
Through this ratification, France has made a formal commitment to apply this international instrument, which gives fresh impetus to action against all forms of forced labour, including trafficking in persons, and seeks to provide victims with protection and access to justice and compensation.
The ILO estimates that 21 million people are victims of forced labour around the world and that this generates some US$150 billion a year in illicit profits. Victims are exploited in agriculture, fishing, domestic work, construction, industry, mining and other economic activities. Forced labour takes different forms, from forced sexual exploitation to debt bondage or even trafficking in persons and slavery.
On receiving the instrument of ratification, ILO Director-General Guy Ryder said: “I welcome this ratification, which is further testimony to France’s ongoing commitment to promoting and implementing fundamental rights at work. This commitment is also visible in the support that France has been providing since 2000 for the Programme supporting the implementation of the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work (PAMODEC).”
“At the national level, France has constantly reinforced its legislative and institutional apparatus to combat all forms of forced labour. In 2013, France adopted a National Plan for combating trafficking in persons and amended the Penal Code with the adoption of provisions to criminalize, in addition to forced labour and trafficking in persons, the enslavement of persons and the subjection of vulnerable persons to working conditions that are an affront to human dignity.”
On depositing the instrument of ratification, Ms Myriam El Khomri, Minister for Labour, Employment, Vocational Training and Social Dialogue, said, “It is a great honour and an immense pleasure for me today to deposit the instrument of ratification of the Protocol of 2014 to the Forced Labour Convention, 1930. The commitment to this ratification was made in this very place by the President of the Republic one year ago.”
“As the sixth State to ratify the Protocol, just two years after its adoption by the ILO, France is demonstrating its desire to be in the front line of the fight to eradicate forced labour, particularly in its most modern forms. We cannot remain mere spectators when faced with these practices which were thought to be a thing of the past but actually affect over 20 million people across the world.”
“Through this ratification, France also wishes to reaffirm its deep commitment to international labour standards, as established by your Organization. This additional Protocol bears witness to the ILO’s capacity to adapt its standard-setting system to the realities of the modern world, and this is something we welcome greatly.”