Strengthening efforts to combat modern slavery

Today, over 40 million people worldwide are being subjected to some form of modern slavery, such as forced labour or forced marriage. The Government is now launching a new strategy to combat modern slavery. ‘Modern slavery in all its forms deprives people of their liberty and is a violation of human rights. As well as taking direct action to stop these unacceptable forms of exploitation and abuse, we must unite globally and raise our voices to demand an end to modern slavery,’ said Minister of International Development Dag-Inge Ulstein.

Modern slavery refers to exploitation and abuse of various kinds, including human trafficking, forced labour, debt bondage, the worst forms of child labour, and forced marriage. It is estimated that there are roughly 40 million victims of modern slavery in the world today. More than 70 % of them are women and girls. Norway’s new strategy to combat modern slavery is intended to promote a more integrated approach in order to eliminate these forms of exploitation.

‘The fight against modern slavery must be fought on many fronts. The Government is giving priority to intensifying efforts to address the factors that we know increase the risk of people being exploited,’ said Mr Ulstein.

It is particularly worrying that the number of children who are being forced to carry out hazardous work to help support their families is rising. For the first time in two decades, the number of children being forced into child labour has grown. At the beginning of 2020, there were 160 million child labourers in the world. This represents an increase of 8.4 million in the space of just four years.

‘It is the most vulnerable among us that have been most severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Children are now being deprived of the opportunity to attend school and thus lay a good foundation for their future. The risk of becoming a victim of modern slavery has increased during the coronavirus pandemic. This is because education, employment, the social safety net and other factors that have a preventive effect have been curtailed,’ said Mr Ulstein.

The new strategy sets out a range of measures that the Government believes will help combat modern slavery. Efforts will be carried out through various channels and in close cooperation with civil society actors that have strong support at the local level.

‘Norway’s efforts alone will not bring an end to modern slavery. The problem is far too wide-ranging and complex for that. The Government hopes that this new strategy will help to place modern slavery higher on the global agenda so that more countries take steps to strengthen their efforts in this area,’ said Mr Ulstein.

Read the strategy here.

Press contact: Tuva Bogsnes, tuva.bogsnes@mfa.no, mob.: 932 31 883