Modern Slavery: Human rights and business, how they connect




“Every four seconds, another person enters a human trafficking situation somewhere in the world. 

It is estimated that there are over 45 million people in modern-day slavery today

– more than any other time in history.” 

Matt Friedman heads the organization supported by private sector companies (The Mekong Club) to analyse how this age-old condition is still prevalent in 2017: it is not just about empathizing with human suffering but also being aware that legislation and the business environment presents risks (and also some opportunities) for financial institutions and the rest of the private sector. Forced labour can be a significant issue in the manufacturing supply chain and used in products, such as clothing and toiletries, many consumers use every day. The Financial Services is often the medium through which illegal transactions are channeled and can be key to the facilitation of modern slavery. 

The Mekong Club is supported by various IBA Japan companies and introduced to us by one of them (Macquarie). Matt will give an overview of the environment and current developments, and discuss best practices, how business can identify risks such as avoiding class action suits and being aware of avoiding negative impact on a companies’ brand. He will also discuss:

¨  How human trafficking has evolved and the extent it contributes to modern slavery

¨ Slavery in Asia: current trends 

¨ Legislation: what is relevant, who is impacted and how it affects businesses

¨ Business risk: how companies’ operations can be affected by their exposure to slavery

¨ The toolkit available to business: approaches used by companies in Asia to tackle this issue and their risk exposure

What is the Mekong Club?

The Mekong Club is a not-for-profit organization in Asia that uses a ‘business-to-business’ approach to fight slavery.  Bridging the gap between the public and private sectors, the Mekong Club helps companies of all sizes understand the complexities of human trafficking and to reduce their vulnerability within their supply chains and the business environment.

Speaker: Matt Friedman

Matt Friedman is Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of The Mekong Club and has over the last 30 years been involved in various roles including management, co-ordination and front-line response work. He was the project manager in Thailand for the United Nations Inter-Agency Project on Human
Trafficking (UNIAP); a body that co-ordinates the UN with governments and civil society groups in highly affected countries, including: China, Cambodia, Laos PDR, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam. He also managed and designed programmes for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in Thailand, Bangladesh and Nepal.

Mr Friedman provides technical advice to various governments and also to private sector companies working to bring an end to slavery. He is the author of eleven books.

More about the Mekong Club

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