New Zealand Law Society - Protocol of 2014 to Forced Labour Convention, 1930 welcomed

Protocol of 2014 to Forced Labour Convention, 1930 welcomed

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Parliament's Education and Workforce Committee has released a report on the International treaty examination of the Protocol of 2014 to the Forced Labour Convention, 1930.

The committee says it welcomes the protocol and supports its ratification.

"We note that a bill is not required to ratify the treaty. Once ratification is registered with the International Labour Organisation, the treaty will become binding on New Zealand 12 months later," it says.

New Zealand ratified the Forced Labour Convention, 1930 in 1938 and the Abolition of Forced Labour Convention, 1957 in 1968.

Together, the two conventions provide an international framework and jurisprudence on the elimination of forced labour. The Government is now seeking to ratify the Protocol of 2014 to the Forced Labour Convention, 1930.

The protocol updates the convention to take into account modern-day changes in the context and forms of forced labour. The protocol is administered by the ILO, which is the United Nations agency responsible for bringing together governments, employers, and workers of its 187 member states to set labour standards, develop policies, and devise programmes promoting “decent work”.

The protocol entered into force in 2016, and more than 30 member states have ratified it. The ILO estimates that about 21 million people are in forced labour world-wide. That includes people being trafficked, held in bondage, or working in slavery-like conditions. Other estimates double this number.

A MBIE analysis of the protocol, included in the committee's report, says the reasons for ratifying the treaty are:

  • New Zealand has ratified both ILO Conventions on Forced Labour, and our law and practice are already largely consistent with the protocol.
  • Ratification is consistent with the Government’s priorities for addressing temporary migrant worker exploitation.
  • Domestic and international attention to these issues is increasing.
  • Ratification will bolster New Zealand’s credentials as a responsible member of the international community.

In its analysis, the ministry identified no disadvantages or risks from ratification, the report says.