On June 27, 2023, the ILO Office for US and Canada hosted a DC LERA panel on Trade & Policy Tools to Address Forced Labor in Global Supply Chains. The featured speakers were Allison Gill of GLJ-ILRF, Dean Pinkert of the Corporate Accountability Lab, and Kevin Willcuts of the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of International Labor Affairs. Kevin Cassidy, Executive Director of the ILO Office for US and Canada, gave opening remarks and hosted a reception afterward. The event brought together labor professionals, academics, government officials, internationalists, students, community activists, human rights advocates, and trade attorneys to learn the latest about trade and policy tools to address forced and child labor in global supply chains.
Kevin Cassidy of the ILO gave a broad overview and update on the ILO’s efforts in developing resources and issuing reports on the growing area of international, bi-lateral, and multilateral trade agreements containing labor provisions.
Allison Gill of GLJ-ILRF used a number of case studies to show how worker rights advocates and broad coalitions of labor, business, human rights, and community activists utilize trade and other mechanisms to eliminate forced labor from global supply chains. The case studies she discussed included: the Cotton Campaign, the Coalition to End Uyghur Forced Labor, and the Dindigul Agreement. Some of the legal and policy mechanisms utilized to eliminate forced labor include GSP, the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, ILO supervisory mechanisms, and the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises. The Dindigul Agreement is an enforceable global supply chain agreement negotiated by the Tamil Nadu Textile and Common Labour Union in India, clothing manufacturer Eastman Exports, global brand H&M, and other social partners.
Dean Pinkert of Corporate Accountability built on Ms. Gill’s overview by delving more deeply into the use of legal provisions in the 1930 U.S. Tariff Act (the U.S. Forced Labor Ban in Sec. 307) and in the 1974 U.S. Trade Act (the Relief From Unfair Trade Practices in Sec. 301). Advocates and Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) have made inroads in excluding goods made under forced labor excluded from the U.S. market. Use of Sec. 307 Relief From Unfair Trade Practices is still cutting edge and in its infancy.
Kevin Willcutts of U.S. DOL’s Bureau of International Labor Affairs spoke about non-trade mechanisms like assistance and training programs and the adoption of industry-wide standards and certification programs to eliminate child labor and the worst forms of child labor in cocoa supply chains in Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire. Mr. Willcutts noted that the informality of cocoa farming and production are barriers to progress in eliminating forced and child labor in the cocoa sector.
RESOURCE LIST: Trade & Policy Tools to Address Forced Labor in Global Supply Chains: 2023.06.27 DC LERA Forced Labor Resources List
Event background and speaker biographies: 2023.06.27 01 Intro DC LERA Trade & Policy Tools Forced Labor