Globally, approximately 16 million people are in a situation of forced labour in the private economy, working in mines, factories and fields to produce raw materials and manufacture products destined for consumer markets. The central role that companies should play in eradicating forced labour from their value chains is irrefutable. But despite the introduction of supply chain legislation in the UK and Australia, and more recently the adoption of mandatory human rights due diligence laws in Europe, workers across the globe continue to face systemic violations of their fundamental rights. A global accountability gap enables abusive corporate practices to go unchecked, especially in the lower tiers of the supply chain where the risks of forced labour are often higher.
The Freedom Fund’s Corporate Accountability initiative invests in cutting-edge accountability-based programs designed to shift corporate behaviour as a driver of forced labour across all sectors of the global economy.
Our goal is to incentivise broader systems change by increasing the pressure on businesses to address and remedy forced labour in their supply chains. This work is focused on three interrelated themes:
- Accountability: Incentivise laggard companies to identify, address and remedy forced labour across all tiers of the supply chain through strategic legal action and public campaigns.
- Remedy: Support the enforcement of liability regimes to end corporate impunity, including mandatory human rights due diligence legislation, that enable workers in global supply chains to claim their rights and access remedy.
- Ecosystem building: Build a stronger and more connected global corporate accountability movement to challenge exploitative industries, centred on the meaningful leadership of rightsholders in accountability strategies.
This initiative builds upon five years of programming to improve corporate responses to forced labour through support for research, advocacy and strategic litigation, under our previous Legal Strategies and Supply Chains initiatives. Our key program intervention strategies include:
- Advancing strategic litigation: Strategic litigation has a unique power to compel corporate action to tackle modern slavery in global supply chains by triggering reforms in legislation, policy and practice. Through our litigation portfolio we seek to direct funding to the most innovative corporate accountability legal efforts globally, through investments across the case pipeline.
- Leveraging trade mechanisms: The Tariff Act Legal Fund supports civil society to conduct on-the-ground investigations to gather evidence of exploitative labour practices linked with goods being imported into the U.S., and file petitions with U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
- Strengthening the accountability ecosystem: Equipping frontline NGOs, lawyers and activists based in the Global South with the knowledge and pathways to initiate and participate in accountability-based interventions to challenge exploitative industries.
- Driving change in corporate behaviour through strategic campaigns: Developing and coordinating innovative public campaigning strategies to increase transparency and accountability in industries linked to Freedom Fund hotspot programs.
- Field building: Mobilising additional investments in pressure-building corporate accountability strategies for forced labour, through donor collaboration and sharing cross-sectoral learnings.
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