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UK statement to 2024 OSCE Alliance trafficking conference session on targeting vulnerabilities

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Justin Bedford, UK Modern Slavery Envoy, shares info on UK’s modern slavery programme, Work in Freedom, at OSCE Alliance conference.

Thank you, moderator, and to the panellists for such insightful presentations.

The UK recognises that prevention is the cornerstone of an effective response to modern slavery and human trafficking.

As we have heard from our panel, it’s clear that crises – whether man-made, such as that caused by Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine – or those caused by natural disasters or by climate change – exacerbate the risk of modern slavery and human trafficking taking place.

We have heard during this session about the challenges faced by individual people in vulnerable circumstances, including women and children. Over the past 10 years the UK’s flagship modern slavery programme, Work in Freedom, has striven to prevent the trafficking of women and girls across migration pathways. This has helped to generate a valuable body of evidence on how to address the the drivers of exploitation, which we are now sharing with the international community, including in the OSCE region.

It is vital that all OSCE participating states continue to work together, both bilaterally – and I am pleased to see several of our valued partners here today – multilaterally, and with civil society, including Alliance 8.7 and the new Global Commission on Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking. By harnessing these partnerships, we can further develop the evidence base on what kinds of approaches work to prevent modern slavery and human trafficking.

Central to this is ensuring that the voices of survivors and affected communities are closely involved. And it is for this reason that the UK, on the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, pledged to support survivor-led organisations and civil society working to end modern slavery in our funding to international programmes.

Finally, I would like to thank you Special Representative for your international leadership and the pivotal role your office has played in understanding vulnerability and shining a light on emerging and overlooked forms of trafficking. This is something we must all be alive to.

Thank you.


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