Strengthening the Commonwealth to achieve SDG 8.7
The 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were adopted by all UN Member States in 2015. Under SDG Target 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.’
CHRI has been leading research and advocacy work on SDG 8.7 within the Commonwealth since 2016. In September 2017, the Commonwealth Secretariat and CHRI, in partnership with the governments of Australia and the UK, hold a panel discussion on "Ending Modern Day Slavery - Achieving Goal 8.7: Sustainable and inclusive development through eradication of forced labour, ending modern slavery and human trafficking, and securing the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labour".
In April 2018, during the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in the United Kingdom, CHRI launched its first 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. The report presents eight recommendations to the Commonwealth and Member States as related to SDG 8.7, based on CHRI’s theory of change:
Building on this research, and following the development of an Indicator Framework to supplement the Global Slavery Index, CHRI launched a second report The Commonwealth Roadmap to SDG 8.7 at the House of Lords in the UK in December 2018. The report provides a roadmap for effective action towards eradicating all forms of contemporary slavery in Commonwealth countries and proposes an Indicator Framework to measure progress. Our report also identifies four areas of action that have the ability to accelerate progress to meet the Commonwealth’s ambition of eradicating modern slavery by 2025: social norms, attitudes and behaviours; law and policy frameworks; social and economic assets and safety nets; and robust data collection.
In June 2019, CHRI was awarded a Commonwealth Secretary-General’s Innovation for Sustainable Development Award 2019, for its work on SDG 8.7 to eliminate contemporary forms of slavery across the Commonwealth.
In July 2019, CHRI launched a cross-Commonwealth network of local, grassroots civil society organisations, working on issues of contemporary forms of slavery. Commonwealth 8.7 is a member-driven network, which serves as a knowledge-sharing platform for country-specific and thematic information and best practice. Furthermore, as a civil society body, the network provides support for holding national governments and international bodies accountable for the commitments related to SDG 8.7.
In September 2019, CHRI brought three civil society representatives from Fiji and Vanuatu to the 42nd session of the Human Rights Council (HRC) in Geneva. Pacific CSOs working on issues related to SDG 8.7 promoted awareness of contemporary forms of slavery, in particular the sexual exploitation and trafficking of women and girls, particular as experienced in the Commonwealth Small States of the Pacific. The representatives made oral and written statements to the Council. The oral statement by Ms. Turenga Nakalevu (Homes of Hope, Fiji) can be viewed here. Furthermore, CHRI organised a side-event titled Human Trafficking in the Pacific.
CHOGM 2018 lay the foundation 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. We believe that the Commonwealth has the opportunity and responsibility to play an effective leadership role in achieving SDG 8.7.
Steps moving forward:
Working in partnership with The Minderoo Foundation, CHRI has developed a Commonwealth Portal of SDG 8.7 Indicators, similar to the Global Slavery Index. These indicators will be populated with data gathered through extensive desk research, and the resulting report will be launched at the next Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Rwanda in June 2020.