Ending Modern Slavery Must Be Part of ‘Build Back Better’

Ending Modern Slavery Must Be Part of ‘Build Back Better’
Pakistani activists take part in an International Women’s Day rally in Lahore, Pakistan, Oct. 9, 2020 (AP photo by K.M. Chaudhry).

Of the many injustices in the contemporary world, modern slavery is among the most shocking. The trade in humans is a worldwide phenomenon. It spans the poorest and wealthiest countries and is deeply embedded in global supply chains. This is not only an ethical outrage but a threat to international security, prosperity, good governance and development. As the world seeks to “build back better” from the COVID-19 pandemic, it must tackle the scourge of human bondage.

Slavery is one of the oldest human institutions, and it remains stubbornly persistent. The global abolitionist movement, which originated in the late 18th century, eventually succeeded in outlawing formal chattel slavery by the mid-20th century—one of the signal moral advances in human history. The global prohibition against slavery is embedded in numerous international legal instruments, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, signed in 1948.

Despite these efforts, human servitude persists, although its character has changed over time. Every year, some 25 million people are trafficked globally for forced labor or sexual exploitation, generating some $150 billion in revenue for perpetrators, according to the International Labor Organization, or ILO. That makes modern slavery one of the most lucrative forms of international crime. Most victims are trafficked within their own countries, but a large proportion are transported across borders. The majority of those trafficked are women and girls.

Keep reading for free!

Get instant access to the rest of this article by submitting your email address below. You'll also get access to three articles of your choice each month and our free newsletter:

Or, Subscribe now to get full access.

Already a subscriber? Log in here .

What you’ll get with an All-Access subscription to World Politics Review:

A WPR subscription is like no other resource — it’s like having a personal curator and expert analyst of global affairs news. Subscribe now, and you’ll get:

  • Immediate and instant access to the full searchable library of tens of thousands of articles.
  • Daily articles with original analysis, written by leading topic experts, delivered to you every weekday.
  • Regular in-depth articles with deep dives into important issues and countries.
  • The Daily Review email, with our take on the day’s most important news, the latest WPR analysis, what’s on our radar, and more.
  • The Weekly Review email, with quick summaries of the week’s most important coverage, and what’s to come.
  • Completely ad-free reading.

And all of this is available to you when you subscribe today.