This workshop will explore the role of the state and businesses in the fight against trafficking in human beings, addressing recent developments in the European and national policy context, requirements under human rights law, and the issues of business compliance and due diligence.

In the business of human trafficking, human beings are treated as commodities to be bought and sold, with unscrupulous perpetrators preying on the vulnerability of economic migrants. Such practices are carried out under the cover of legitimate business activities, in agriculture, construction, domestic service, the transport sector, and the food service industry. 

The workshop will examine the duty of the state to develop appropriate policies and legislation to protect against human rights abuses by business. It will also explore the more contested limits of the responsibility of business to respect human rights, including the duty to act with due diligence to avoid infringing the rights of others, and to address adverse impacts of business activities. 

The policy context within which the discussion will take place includes the 2011 UN Guiding Principles on business and human rights, the UK Action Plan on Business and Human Rights announced in September 2013, which establishes clear expectations that UK companies should respect human rights, and the draft Modern Slavery Bill

Academics, policymakers, and practitioners will assess the lack of effective legal requirements placed on UK companies to comply with these principles, and the effectiveness of possible incentives for compliance or sanctions for non-compliance.