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Fighting Slavery in the Halls of Power

Roger Plant is the former head of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) special action programme to combat forced labour.

His goal at the ILO (an agency of the United Nations) was to combat situations worldwide where people are forced to work against their will. The first challenge was to convince politicians, diplomats, business leaders and labour unions that slavery truly is a global problem. He set out to count the number of persons in forced labour in the world today. His premise was: you can’t cure it if you can’t count it. “We’ve got to persuade public opinion,” Roger says, “and this is the importance of that headcount.”

Please watch the film Fighting Slavery in the Halls of Power, which shows Roger’s process of building bridges with governments and mobilising good will. The film was made by the antislavery NGO Free the Slaves, when Roger won their William Wilberforce Award - given to an individual who has moved a major institution, government, business or large groups of people to significant action to fight slavery.

After watching the film, please explore the ILO’s campaign for governments to ratify the Protocol on Forced Labour. For example, you can check which countries have ratified it so far and see the facts and figures that underpin its campaign. Tell us in the comments what you discover about the ILO’s work on slavery, any predictions for which other countries will likely ratify the protocol, and what you think of the Protocol itself (with its focus on protection, prevention and compensation).

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This article is from the free online course:

Ending Slavery: Strategies for Contemporary Global Abolition

The University of Nottingham