In 2015 the Commissioner led a successful international effort to secure an explicit target in the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), to take immediate and effective measures to eradicate modern slavery and human trafficking.
The Sustainable Development Goals, or “Global Goals”, adopted in September 2015, will shape development policy for the United Nations and its 193 member states over the next 15 years. Whilst the initial draft of these Goals included important targets focused on the elimination of the trafficking of women and children and of child labour, there was no clear target on ending all forms of modern slavery and human trafficking. This risked a reduced level of priority and funding being attached to the issue globally, right up to the year 2030.
With support from the UK Government, the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences and a number of G77 countries, during the final negotiations, “Ending modern slavery and human trafficking” was accepted as an amendment and added into Goal 8 of the 17 Global Goals. This is a major breakthrough that will bring more concerted action, political will and increased funding to the fight against slavery across the world.
Sustainable Development Goal 8.7 now underpins the UK’s recently announced £33.5m International Modern Slavery Fund, which the Commissioner helped to secure. The Fund will be used to work with key partner countries to prevent modern slavery.
The Commissioner, together with the Santa Marta Group, organised a high-level meeting at the United Nations Headquarters in New York in April 2016 to drive forward action to implement Target 8.7. In addition, the Commissioner attended key meetings during the United Nations General Assembly in September 2016 to further galvanise efforts and is working with the International Labour Organization to support its new Alliance 8.7 initiative, which aims to increase international collaboration and assist Member States with practical support to achieve Target 8.7.