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In 2015, the UK Government in the Modern Slavery Act 2015 required large businesses to publish an annual statement detailing how they tackled modern slavery in their supply chains.

Despite being heralded as ground-breaking, the Modern Slavery Act has been criticised for failing to bring about meaningful changes in corporate behaviour. Recognising the criticism, the Government recently announced several reforms, including a state-run central registry for the statements and financial penalties for organisations failing to comply with the Act’s requirements.

Nevertheless, the fundamental question remains: how effective has the Modern Slavery Act been in holding UK businesses accountable for preventing exploitation in their supply chains, and what can we do to do it more effectively going forward?

An event hosted by the Bonavero Institute of Human Rights, organised in collaboration with the Modern Slavery and Human Rights Policy and Evidence Centre (Modern Slavery PEC) and the Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law will attempt to answer these questions.

We will have a panel of experts discussing the subject:

An audio recording of this event is available to listen to on Soundcloud

A photo of Patricia Carrier.
Patricia Carrier
Patricia Carrier, Project Manager, Modern Slavery Registry at Business & Human Rights Resource Centre. Her work focuses on the UK Modern Slavery Act. Patricia has published in-depth analysis of reporting by the FTSE 100 companies and has collaborated with civil society and investors to advocate for the strengthening of the MSA. Patricia also delivered the UK Home Office Audit of Modern Slavery Act compliance, covering over 17,000 companies. Patricia is a licensed attorney in the U.S., qualified solicitor in England and Wales, and holds an LLM in Public International Law from the University of Oslo.

A photo of Owain Johnstone.
Owain Johnstone
Owain Johnstone is Policy Advisor at Ethical Trading Initiative. He joined ETI in January 2018 as part of ETI’s new Modern Slavery Strategy Unit. Since joining, he has led the creation of a new evaluation framework for Modern Slavery Statements, helping to drive up standards in modern slavery reporting. He has also led the drafting of ETI’s own first Modern Slavery Statement, demonstrating best practice in the field. He is currently Technical Advisor on a two-year ETI project to ensure meaningful access to remedy for migrant workers in supply chains around the world, with a particular focus on Malaysia. Prior to joining ETI, Owain completed his PhD at Oxford University, exploring the development of human trafficking and modern slavery law and policy in the UK since 2000. Prior to that, he worked for two years in the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), much of the time at the interface between evidence and policymaking.

A photo of Stuart Neely.
Stuart Neely
Stuart Neely is a senior associate at Norton Rose Fulbright LLP. He specialises in disputes, investigations and business ethics matters, principally in the areas of business and human rights and anti-corruption. He advises on the design and implementation of ESG-related policies and procedures, human rights due diligence and governance issues. Stuart is published in peer-reviewed journals, and authored the UK Country Report for the recent European Commission study on due diligence requirements through the supply chain, led by the British Institute of International and Comparative Law.

A photo of Lisa Hsin.
Lisa Hsin
Lisa Hsin, researcher at the Bonavero Institute of Human Rights and co-author of the Modern Slavery PEC report on the effectiveness of Section 54 of the Modern Slavery Act.

A photo of Irene Pietropaoli.
Irene Pietropaoli
Dr Irene Pietropaoli, researcher at the Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law and co-author of the Modern Slavery PEC report on the effectiveness of Section 54 of the Modern Slavery Act.

Director of the Modern Slavery PEC and the Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law, Murray Hunt, will chair the discussion.

The event will mark the launch of the Modern Slavery PEC’s report analysing the effectiveness of the Modern Slavery Act’s section 54, produced by the Bonavero Institute for Human Rights and the Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law. The authors of the report are: Lisa K.E. Hsin, Steve New, Irene Pietropaoli and Lise Smit.

The report analyses how effective section 54 has been in holding UK businesses accountable for modern slavery in their supply chains. It specifies three levels of effectiveness to assess section 54 systematically, analyses the effectiveness of civil society monitoring; looks at other corporate regulatory models in areas such as bribery, health and safety or gender pay gap and considers the MSA statement of two companies in detail. The report provides an overview of how section 54 has operated to date and a starting point for nuanced discussions about effectiveness as we move forward into a new phase of implementation of section 54.