Dutch Rapporteur urges International Labour Conference to revise Forced Labour Convention

Supplementing the ILO Convention concerning Forced or Compulsory Labour (C029) is an important step towards the eradication of forced labour, says the Dutch National Rapporteur on Trafficking in Human Beings and Sexual Violence against Children. She urges the International Labour Conference to opt for a legally binding protocol. According to the Rapporteur, the proposed set of new rules confirms the link between forced labour and trafficking in human beings. Additionally, revision of the Convention eliminates existing gaps on three important issues: the prevention of forced labour and the protection and compensation of its victims.

Updating the ILO Convention on forced labour

The present Convention dates from 1930 and is, according to the ILO, partly obsolete and contains outdated provisions. It is for this reason that the revision of the Convention will be one of the main subjects on the agenda during the annual International Labour Conference, to be held in Geneva from 28 May-12 June. The ILO prepared the draft texts for the supplementing rules. In addition to the content of the rules, the debate will focus on the preferable form for these rules: a legally binding protocol or a non-binding recommendation.

Added value

For the Netherlands  ratification of an envisaged protocol will most likely not lead to new legislation . Nonetheless, the Rapporteur is convinced of the added value of the new protocol. ,,In the new rules the link between forced labour and trafficking in human beings is clearly drafted”, says Corinne Dettmeijer-Vermeulen, who has held the office of Rapporteur since 2006. ,,That nexus is not so evident in all parts of the world. Clarifying a possible overlap between these two issues will prevent countries to create ambiguities in legislation and policy.” The Rapporteur is a keen proponent of the involvement of labour inspections, employers’ organisations and trade unions in the prevention and suppression of forced labour, whose roles have been emphasized in the drafts of both the protocol and the recommendation.

Prevention and protections

The current Convention consists of a definition of forced and compulsory labour and obliges states to effectively criminalize and penalize this phenomenon. In the new rules important additional perspectives are addressed, such as the prevention of forced labour and the protection and compensation of its victims. Despite the fact that other international legal documents on trafficking in human beings already provide clear and detailed provisions, it is also important that these issues are being addressed in the context of forced labour.


About the text of the proposed protocol, the Rapporteur published an article today. In this article the Rapporteur highlights the relation between forced labour and trafficking in human beings. She assesses the protocol article-by-article. Topics that are brought to the fore are the education of risk groups, the protection of workers who use recruitment and placement services, the formulation of the principle of non-liability for offences that victims were compelled to commit, and the care and protection of victims, including compensation.