Governments and financial sector join forces to fight human trafficking
Governments and the financial sector are joining forces to permanently thwart modern slavery and human trafficking. The Financial Sector Commission on Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking is meeting in The Netherlands for its fourth and final conference, hosted by Foreign Minister Stef Blok. The public event featured discussions between government officials, Commissioners and the financial sector on partnerships to accelerate action in tackling these crimes.
H.E. Stef Blok, minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of the Netherlands: “Modern slavery and human trafficking is, unfortunately, a very lucrative business. By exploiting children, women and men, the ultimate objective of the criminals involved is to profit financially. In order to tackle human trafficking, we need to find solutions that will disrupt this business model. As we discussed today, this can be done by improving the exchange of information and data as well as through sector-led partnerships, as we have seen here in the Netherlands through the Dutch International Business Conduct agreements.”
Chris Buijink, president of the Dutch Banking Association: ‘Tackling human rights abuses is a joint responsibility of the public and private sector. This is why collaboration between the public and private sector through a coordinated, multi-stakeholder approach is crucial to realize positive change. I’m proud to say that, in addition to ABN AMRO, three other Dutch banks have joined a new and expanded initiative on tackling human trafficking, together with scholars and public actors.’
Modern slavery and human trafficking touch the financial sector in a number of ways: through their transnational supply chains, unwittingly laundering illicit profits, and the possible investments in businesses that then engage in this form of exploitation. The sector’s leaders have recognized their global responsibility to respect human rights in their businesses in addressing modern slavery and human trafficking and helping to address vulnerabilities to these forms of exploitation.
“We are delighted to be in The Hague for our fourth and final consultation ahead of the launch of the Commission’s Blueprint in September. We thank Minister Blok and the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs for hosting this important consultation, looking at the Dutch experience of international responsible business conduct agreements, as well as the use of sanctions regimes aimed at addressing human trafficking,” said Fiona Reynolds, Chair of the Financial Sector Commission on Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking and CEO of the UN-backed Principles for Responsible Investment. “We have heard from expert briefers from the Netherlands and met numerous stakeholders, which will help inform our ongoing discussions.”
The Financial Sector Commission on Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking was launched during the United Nations General Assembly in September 2018 and has since held three global conferences. The Commission is considering how the financial sector can most effectively prevent and disrupt modern slavery and human trafficking, and remedy the harm it causes. The Commission was formed as a public-private partnership between the Governments of Liechtenstein, Australia and the Netherlands, United Nations University Centre for Policy Research, and a consortium of banks, professional associations and philanthropic foundations. Commissioners include Hennie Verbeek-Kusters, Head of Dutch Financial Intelligence Units and Chair of the Egmont Group, and Tanja Cuppen, Chief Risk Officer of ABN AMRO Bank N.V.
The Dutch participation is in line with its objective to strengthen the international approach towards human trafficking as outlined in the Dutch national program “Together against human trafficking”. This follows the Netherlands’ imposition of sanctions on six human traffickers under the UN sanctions regime for Libya. Last year, Minister Blok’s proposal to list these criminals was approved by all members of the UN Security Council. With these sanctions, their bank balances are frozen worldwide, they are no longer allowed to travel internationally, and it is forbidden to make economic resources available to them.