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Human Rights Council 33, introduction to the resolution on Modern Slavery, 29 September, 2016

UK statement delivered during the 33rd session of the Human Rights Council.

The Human Rights Council takes place at the Palais des Nations in Geneva
The Human Rights Council takes place at the Palais des Nations in Geneva

Thank you Mr President

The United Kingdom is pleased to introduce draft resolution L2 entitled Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Slavery.

Tackling modern slavery is vital. Such an egregious denial of human rights should be unthinkable in the 21st century. One case is one too many. And yet minimum estimates of the number of people subjected to slavery or similar practices stand at between 21 and 45 million. The majority are from the poorest, most vulnerable and marginalised groups in society. We must increase our efforts to stop this appalling practice, and we must do so urgently.

Modern slavery affects all parts of the world. The United Kingdom is no exception to this and we are committed to action against slavery both at home and abroad. We call on all partners to join us as part of an international response to stop this terrible scourge.

Draft resolution L2 seeks to renew the Council’s Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Slavery for a further 3 years. Since 2007 the Special Rapporteur has engaged constructively with a wide variety of states and civil society actors and produced valuable thematic studies. The draft resolution expresses appreciation for the Special Rapporteur’s most recent reports on slavery in supply chains and the issue of debt bondage.

The draft updates the mandate of the Special Rapporteur following the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and requests the Special Rapporteur to assist states in the implementation of target 8.7 which focuses on ending slavery.

The text urges states to increase their efforts to combat slavery and welcomes those steps which states have taken such as new legislation, the revision of relevant policies and the establishment of independent domestic mechanisms.

The draft resolution also gives greater prominence to the role of the UN voluntary Trust Fund on Contemporary Forms of Slavery which provides crucial assistance to victims of slavery, but which is facing severe funding challenges.

We wish to acknowledge all of those governments who have engaged with the Special Rapporteur since the mandate was last renewed. We appreciate how difficult it can be for a state to accept that slavery exists within its territory. But such recognition is a vital first step to stopping slavery.

We also wish to thank the many states from all regions who have co-sponsored this resolution. We believe that this reflects the broad support which this mandate enjoys, and we hope that the Council will adopt draft resolution L2 by consensus.

Thank you Mr President

Published 29 September 2016