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International experts review evidence with ambitious aim to end modern slavery

25 May 2021 @TeessideUni


A Teesside University criminologist was part of an international group of experts brought together to provide advice and guidance for policymakers striving to end modern slavery and associated issues.

Professor Georgios Antonopoulos
Professor Georgios Antonopoulos

Professor Georgios Antonopoulos, from the University’s Centre for Social Innovation, has specific expertise around organised crime, illegal markets, human trafficking and criminal finances.

He was brought in to assist with Delta 8.7, a United Nations initiative designed to provide effective measures to eradicate forced labour, modern slavery human trafficking and child labour.

Delta 8.7 is supported by the British Home Office, the US Department of Labour and the International Labour Organisation (ILO). Its core objective has been to provide expert insight which will assist with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 8.7 - taking immediate and effective measures to eradicate forced labour, end modern slavery and human trafficking and secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labour, including recruitment and use of child soldiers and, by 2025, end child labour in all its forms.

Professor Antonopoulos joined working groups made up of members from international organisations, Government agencies, law enforcement, anti-trafficking and security agencies and universities from countries including the US, Italy, India, Mexico, Australia, Israel, Malawi, and Trinidad and Tobago.

The working groups collaborated for 12 months, examining and reviewing all available evidence in relation to human trafficking and modern slavery.

They covered three core areas - Crisis, Justice and Markets. Professor Antonopoulos primary involvement was in Markets, though there was considerable overlap between each area.

The Delta 8.7 Policy Guides have now been published by the United Nations University Centre for Policy Research.

They will be used to help policy makers understand effective measures to end modern slavery and provide a snapshot of what can work in order to achieve this target. They also highlight areas where evidence is either strong or lacking and can be used globally to help provide new frameworks for action.

The advice within the Delta 8.7 Policy Guides includes:

  • frameworks and practice that ensure survivors are not criminalised for offences committed in connection to their experiences of modern slavery are critical to effective victim identification, survivor participation and well-being, as well as the prosecution of offenders.
  • Providing modern slavery and human trafficking training to law enforcement and criminal justice actors improves identification, investigation and prosecution of modern slavery offences.
  • Providing health-care workers with modern slavery training would increase identification of victims and provide an opportunity for appropriate intervention.
  • Firms that operate towards the consumption end of a supply chain taking responsibility for the recruitment practices within their produce/services/supply chains would help to reduce risks of forced labour and human trafficking.

It was an honour to be invited to contribute and to work with experts around the world on such important issues which can have harrowing consequences for individuals, families and communities.

Professor Georgios Antonopoulos

In addition, it found there was no evidence that creating specialised law enforcement and other criminal justice processes to address modern slavery improves the criminal justice response. And, for private sector’s engagement in anti-slavery activity to be meaningful, increased corporate liability provisions and/or financial penalties or incentives are not necessarily required.

Professor Antonopoulos has worked with numerous safety partners to help coordinate criminal policy and has acted as expert or consultant to the HMRC, the Cabinet Office, the US Department of Commerce, and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.

He is a member of the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organised Crime, board member of the Cross-Border Crime Colloquium, series editor of the Routledge Studies in Organised Crime, and editor-in-chief of the journal Trends in Organised Crime.

Speaking about his involvement in Delta 8.7, Professor Antonopoulos said: “It was an honour to be invited to contribute and to work with experts around the world on such important issues which can have harrowing consequences for individuals, families and communities.

“The strategy we adopted developed upon a more inclusive and shared narrative about modern slavery that was based on the available evidence we examined, as well as the diverse experiences of those involved.

“The hope is that the Policy Guides provide a starting point in a multi-stage, ‘adaptive’ process towards setting and refining policy parameters with an ambitious aim of ultimately ending modern slavery and those issues which surround it.”

Find out more about Delta 8.7