New Global Anti-Slavery Campaign: FOLLOW THE MONEY
Date: October 4, 2018
ARCHIVE PHOTO: Hands are silhouetted against a backdrop projected with the picture of various currencies of money in this illustration. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel
Campaign aims to fight money laundering by traffickers, promote ethical investment and offer opportunities to people vulnerable to slavery.
By Ellen Wulfhorst
UNITED NATIONS, Sept 24, 2018 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – The principality of Liechtenstein kicked off a campaign on Monday to enlist the global financial sector to fight modern slavery, flexing its role as a center of world wealth management to tap the clout of banks, hedge funds and investors.
The financially focused effort aims to fight money laundering by traffickers, promote ethical investment and offer opportunities to people vulnerable to slavery, organizers said at the annual meeting of world leaders at the United Nations.
Globally, modern slavery is believed to generate illicit profits of $150 billion a year, according to the International Labour Organization, which estimates more than 40 million people are enslaved around the world.
“Following the money can not only lead us to the perpetrators but also deny them the resources they need to commit such crimes in the first place,” said Aurelia Frick, Liechtenstein’s foreign affairs minister, at launch of the financial sector commission at U.N. headquarters in New York.
Traffickers illegally launder illicit gains, take advantage of informal banking systems and benefit when investors unknowingly back companies that profit from slavery in their supply chains, organizers said.
Meanwhile, a lack of access to credit can make people vulnerable to forced labor and trafficking, they said.
Plans call for commission members – institutional investors, global pension funds, investment banks, financial regulators and others – to design an anti-slavery strategy by mid-2019 for the financial sector.
“This commission will make a major contribution to undermining the primary goal of the human traffickers and those who would enslave another human being – the money they make out of human misery,” said Marise Payne, Australia’s minister for foreign affairs.
Separately, Britain announced anti-slavery efforts, including plans with the U.N.’s children’s agency UNICEF to provide some 400,000 children in Ethiopia, Somalia and Sudan with birth registration and identity documents that could help protect them from forced labor.
“No one nation can banish this borderless crime alone,” Britain’s International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt said in a prepared statement.
Also announced was an alliance of Britain, the United States, Canada, New Zealand and Australia to try and eradicate slavery in global supply chains and meet annually to coordinate efforts.