With millions of victims of modern-day slavery, you would expect more people to care. The problem is that our supply chains are tainted. If you buy clothes, eat chocolate, or use various consumer products from nations like India, China, or Bangladesh, then you are a part of the problem. More than 40 million people are victims of modern-day slavery. Two-thirds of them are in Asia, and most of them work in industries that largely supply Western consumerism. It is time for people to take a stand and end this issue.
If consumers demand corporate action to end slavery, then we just may be able to transform the world into a better place. Sure, we have come a long way but we still have an uphill battle. The UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) ended years of international stalemate over corporate responsibility. Eight G20 countries have passed legislation to fight supply-chain slavery. Unfortunately, this movement is still largely confined to the West, but Asia could be next.
“What is happening in Thailand and also in India regarding national guidelines on responsible business conduct, I think, are the two biggest policy movements that may pave the way for this type of legislation,” says Livio Sarandrea, business and human rights advisor from UNDP, who is leading the international team helping various governments with their NAPs. “I don’t think it’s impossible that this might happen. But if it does happen, what’s even more important is that they are serious about it and implement it.”
The Future of Slavery
The zero draft, released last summer, calls for states to make human-rights compliance a precondition for doing business. We must wait to see if nations shall crack down on violators of human rights. As Asia becomes a powerhouse in the world of international trade, Asian countries shall have to change generational traditions of forced servitude. Otherwise they may be left behind and never make the full transition to the global stage.