Modern Slavery and Human Rights

A project in the Business and Human Rights research programme

The Bonavero Institute of Human Rights is part of the Modern Slavery and Human Rights Policy and Evidence Centre (the Modern Slavery PEC) along with other UK-based research institutions. The mission of the Modern Slavery PEC is to enhance the understanding of modern slavery and transform the effectiveness of law and policies designed to address it. With high quality research it commissions at its heart, the Centre brings together academics, policymakers, businesses, civil society, survivors and the public on a scale not seen before in the UK to collaborate on solving this global challenge.

The Modern Slavery PEC is funded and actively supported by the Art and Humanities Research Council on behalf of the UK Research and Innovation  (UKRI), from the Strategic Priorities Fund. At the national level, the Centre is led by the Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law and, apart from the Bonavero Institute, it consists of the Rights Lab at the University of Nottingham, the Wilberforce Institute for the study of Slavery and Emancipation at the University of Hull, the Centre for the Study of International Slavery at the University of Liverpool, and the Alan Turing Institute.

Within the Modern Slavery PEC, the focus of the Bonavero Institute’s workstrand is human rights as they relate to modern slavery, one of the central cross-cutting themes in the Modern Slavery PEC’s work. Modern slavery is a human rights issue and the Modern Slavery PEC is committed to taking a human rights-based approach to addressing it. That means putting the needs and interests of the people who are, or might become, affected by modern slavery at the heart of legal and policy responses, and involving those with lived experience of modern slavery throughout the research process.

The team working on modern slavery at the Bonavero Institute understands the relationship between human rights and modern slavery to go beyond the protection of individual victims after they were already exploited. It recognises the crucial role of a commitment to human rights in informing relevant policies and assessing their impact. Thus, a human rights perspective to modern slavery requires protecting the rights of vulnerable populations to prevent situations that would result in human rights violations, and promoting rights-based approach to modern slavery. Our work on modern slavery and human rights emphasizes the link between the right not to be victim of slavery, servitude and forced labour and other rights, especially the right to work and the enjoyment of just and favourable conditions of work, the right to adequate standard of living, the right to freedom of movement, and the right to access to justice.