What We do

SDG 8.7

Activating the Commonwealth to achieve SDG 8.7

The 2030 Sustainable Development Goals were adopted by all UN Member States in 2015. Under target SDG 8.7 all Commonwealth states have committed ‘to take immediate and effective measures to eradicate forced labour, human trafficking, prohibit and eliminate the worst forms of child labour including the use of child soldiers, end modern slavery, and by 2025 end child labour in all its forms.’ All members are expected to report on their progress, although this is a voluntary mechanism.

CHRI has been leading research and advocacy work on SDG 8.7 within the Commonwealth since 2016. At the 2018 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) CHRI is releasing a flagship report Creating an effective coalition to achieve SDG 8.7.

Our report outlines the complexity of the abuses contained within SDG 8.7: the legacy of colonialism, rapid population growth, poverty, unchecked economic globalisation, conflict, political instability and weakened governance have created a fertile environment for high levels of forced labour, modern slavery, human trafficking, child labour, and child soldiers. Commonwealth States are forecast to be home to 30.4% of the world’s population by 2050, which will put further strain on limited resources, increasing the number of potential victims. Climate change and the rapid deterioration of ecosystems presents a further challenge to tackling these issues as many Commonwealth States are Small Island Developing States, which makes them particularly vulnerable to the displacement of millions due to rising sea levels and food insecurity resulting from desertification.

We believe that the Commonwealth has the opportunity and responsibility to play an effective leadership role in achieving SDG 8.7. The Commonwealth has historically been very effective in providing long-term leadership on an issue, as it showed in its work against Apartheid in South Africa. CHOGM 2018 provides a chance for the Commonwealth to take the lead on SDG 8.7 as a convener and catalyst for Member States’ efforts and to position itself as a forum for shared learning on best practice. It is also an opportunity to obtain firm commitments from Member States on SDG 8.7 which cuts across all four of CHOGM 2018’s pillars (fairness, sustainability, security and prosperity).

Our report presents 8 recommendations to the Commonwealth and Member States as related to SDG 8.7 based on CHRI’s theory of change:

  1. Convene governments, parliamentarians, officials, business leaders and civil society in a new framework of annual meetings with a focus on SDG 8.7 commitments;
  2. Encourage all Commonwealth member states to ratify relevant international legal instruments, particularly the 2014 Protocol to ILO Convention 29, and implement robust monitoring mechanisms;
  3. Support measures to enhance understanding of the nature and causes of those abuses within SDG 8.7, among Commonwealth governments as well as the people;
  4. Support the development of nationally specific targets and indicators within the broad 8.7 target, and the improvement of domestic legislation, and of national action plans, and act as a repository for legislative templates and best practice;
  5. Support better enforcement of domestic legislation and national action plans;
  6. Encourage member states to involve non-governmental bodies in the project for achievement of SDG 8.7;
  7. Raise public awareness of the abuses contained within SDG 8.7, the factors that allow them to occur and the ways citizens can contribute to their eradication through creating Commonwealth-wide public information campaigns and providing toolkits to Member States for designing SDG 8.7-related awareness campaigns; and,
  8. Support member states to collect, evaluate, and report on data relevant to the achievement of SDG 8.7.

The above recommendations will inform CHRI’s research and advocacy work post-CHOGM 2018. Core initiatives will include:

  • Understanding and addressing the structural causes of all the phenomena related to SDG 8.7, paying special attention to interlocking vulnerabilities, social norms and weak governance.
  • Advocating for the ratification and domestication of all the relevant international law instruments and for the effective law enforcement.
  • Fostering collaboration and exchanges of information across Commonwealth States and with all stakeholders, especially Civil Society Organisations.
  • Providing technical input and capacity building to Governments, Civil Society Organisations and Communities.

See CHRI’s report including recommendations for the Commonwealth and its Member States here