JUST Notes

SPECIAL ISSUE ON

IMPACT OF CORPORATE AND CONSUMER RESPONSIBILITY

ON HUMAN TRAFFICKING

January, 2010

We promise to stand with people who are poor by seeking out and addressing critical needs,

particularly in those places where our presence could make a difference.

--Promise Chapter 2006

Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange

 

January 11th is National Human Trafficking and Modern Day Slavery Awareness Day

 

EARTH CHARTER

PRINCIPLE III: SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC JUSTICE

9. Eradicate poverty as an ethical, social, and environmental imperative.

b. Empower every human being with the education and resources to secure a sustainable livelihood, and provide social security and safety nets for those who are unable to support themselves.

All over the world slaves are forced to work and supply us with the things we buy. Raw materials and commodities like cotton, sugar, iron, gold, diamonds, coffee, timber, fish, cocoa, as well as goods like clothing, shoes, toys, and bricks come from slave labor. These commodities and goods flow into the global product chain and arrive in our homes. Businesses can help stop slavery by taking responsibility and cleaning up their products chains. As consumers, the last step in that product chain, each of us has to take responsibility as well. –Adapted from Free the Slaves

NOTE:

If you have no time to read the entire JUST Notes, click on the following link to watch a 2½-minute video on how businesses are involved. http://www.freetheslaves.net/Page.aspx?pid=333

WHO’S INVOLVED?

 

COUNTRIES

                        Globalization offers financially struggling nations a chance to boost living standards through exports to wealthier countries, but globalization without a conscience can lead to entrenched poverty and the persistent abuse of local populations.

– Adapted from Christian Brothers Investment Services, Inc. (CBIS)

 

                        For example, in a transnational context, certain destination countries may "benefit" from increased revenue from taxes, sex tourism, or other sources associated with the receiving and exploitation of foreign national victims within their borders. –Adapted from Polaris Project

 

COMPANIES

                        Most American companies would prefer that their global suppliers respect workers’ and children’s fundamental rights and provide their employees with working conditions that meet acceptable local standards. – Adapted U.S. Dept of Labor

                        But businesses that support the trafficking industry generate millions in profits from their involvement. Some businesses are acutely aware of their involvement, like hotels, landlords, or advertisers, while others, like airlines and banks, may find it is more difficult to isolate the traffickers and customers among their clients. Unfortunately, the profits generated usually outweigh any reservations they may have about it, and because the facilitators are rarely if ever prosecuted for their role, they face negligible risk. Practices that facilitate trafficking, like corruption, are often motivated by profit or the vested self-interest of powerful groups like males who use the sex industry, or by corporate powers that tolerate horrific working conditions for the poor. –Adapted from Polaris Project

 

• Human rights remains as one of the most challenging areas of corporate citizenship. In part, this is because human rights have traditionally been the concern of states, and international human rights law has generally been addressed to them only. As more companies come to realize their legal, moral and/or commercial need to address human rights issues within their own operations and activities, they are confronted with a number of challenges. For example, there is the need to come to grips with the human rights framework and how a company’s own activities might relate to it. In addition, companies are often uncertain how to avoid complicity in human rights abuse and where the boundaries of their human rights responsibility lie. Adapted from UN Global Compact

 

CONSUMERS

                        A desire for cheap goods and services or commercial sex drives the demand-side, facilitated by a disregard for the trafficking conditions from which the customer is benefiting.

–Adapted from Polaris Project

 

Also, most Americans and most consumers in the world market would not choose to purchase goods known to be produced by exploited children or forced laborers at any price. But, buyers in today’s globally integrated marketplace face an array of choices when they shop. In addition to the usual price considerations, many consumers and buyers would like to weigh other factors before making purchasing decisions: Who produced this product? How, and under what conditions, was it produced? However, there is a huge gap in information available to consumers about the processes and labor practices that produce the goods in our markets. – Adapted from the U.S. Dept of Labor

 

SOME OF THE MANY SECTORS IMPACTED

COTTON INDUSTRY

Government-run cotton industries in Central Asia have long relied on forced labor and child labor supplied by a captive citizenry. In Uzbekistan, the cotton industry is controlled by the repressive regime of President Islam Karimov, which oversees an annual harvest that generates more than $1 billion in revenue and represents about 60% of the nation’s hard currency exports. Yet the wealth is not shared. Profits accrue to connected insiders and government overseers while farmers and workers, mostly children, subsist in conditions of near slavery. – Adapted from Christian Brothers Investment Services, Inc.

 

HOTEL INDUSTRY

Children are falling prey to sex trafficking in American-owned hotels all over the world, and even right here at home. Just last month, 5-year-old Shaniya Davis was sold for sex at a Comfort Inn in North Carolina. The tragedy of Shaniya Davis and the abhorrence of child prostitution are universally acknowledged. –Adapted from Change.org

While tourism is not the cause of child sex tourism, it is a channel that provides offenders with a way to gain access to children. Child sex offenders use facilities and services offered by the travel industry – travel agents, airlines, hotels, taxis, tour operators, etc – and as such the tourism industry is well-placed to play a vital role in protecting children. Interactions of the tourism sector with the child sex trade can be defined in different levels: direct, indirect or potential. Direct interaction corresponds to those businesses who knowingly publicize, promote, and receive sex tours as well as to the operators of establishments and premises where abusers meet and sexually exploit children, namely accommodation facilities, entertainment centers, leisure areas, etc. –Adapted from ECPAT

 

FAIR TRADE COFEE

Non-Fair: Pickers (may include children) are paid a couple cents for every pound of coffee they harvest. Harvested coffee is sold to wholesalers or collectors for washing and drying. It is transported and sold at

auction by exporters to a roasting company. The company roasts and blends it with other kinds of coffee and prepares it for the final consumer. When it reaches your cup it has been marked up 1200-1500% (or more to the largest markup the market allows) from the prices that are paid to farmers.

Fair: No children will be pickers! Pickers are paid a living wage. The farmer sells the coffee to the Fair Trade Cooperative of which he is a member. The cooperative washes, dries, and packages the coffee for sale and shipment to Alternative Trading Organizations (ATOs) for a minimum of $1.26 per pound. The ATOs roast and package the coffee for sale to the final consumer. –Adapted from Fair Trade

 

FAIR TRADE CHOCOLATE

North Americans and Europeans consume 80% of the cocoa supplied by the third world. When you buy a 75¢ candy bar, 70¢ goes to the company, 5¢ to the farmer. M&M, the largest chocolate producer in the world, has annual profits of about $16 billion per year. Yet M&M refuses to buy fair trade chocolate. Fair Trade chocolate ensures a living wage to those who harvest cocoa and helps eliminate the need to resort to child trafficking. –Adapted from Fair Trade

 

WHAT IS BEING DONE?

                        Socially Responsible Investors — including ourselves, the Boston CSJ's and the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR) — are working to bring this egregious violation of human rights to the attention of corporations around the world that buy cotton for clothing production and that sell clothing. They are asking the world’s largest apparel brands and retailers to inform suppliers not to source cotton harvested in Uzbekistan and to implement supply chain traceability mechanisms to ensure that policies are upheld. – Adapted from Christian Brothers Investment Services

 

                        Over the past year, Socially Responsible Investors have written letters to 130 apparel and home furnishing companies asking how they are addressing the violation of children’s rights resulting from state sponsored forced labor in Uzbekistan’s cotton industry. A number of companies have responded by instructing their suppliers not to use cotton from Uzbekistan. This growing list includes C&A, Gap, Levi Strauss, Marks & Spencer, Target, Tesco, TJX, The Walt Disney Company and Wal-Mart. As of August 2009, 25 of the world’s largest apparel brands and retailers have committed to policies that seek to ensure their supply chains are free of Uzbek cotton. – Adapted from Christian Brothers Investment Services

 

                        In June 2008, the UN Human Rights Council welcomed the “Protect, Respect, Remedy” (PRR) policy framework put forward by the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative on Business and Human Rights (SRSG). In its resolution…the Council underlined the state’s duty to protect people from abuses by or involving non-state actors, including business. It also affirmed that business has a responsibility to respect all human rights. And it stressed the need for access to appropriate and effective judicial and nonjudicial remedies for those whose human rights are impacted by corporate activities. – Adapted from the Institute for Human Rights and Business

 

                        The US Department of Labor released a long-awaited list of country-specific goods likely made with child and slave labor in September 2009. Senators Max Baucus (D-MT) and Charles Grassley (R-IA) have introduced a Customs Reauthorization Bill (S. 1631) that will restrict the import of goods made by child and slave labor. 122 goods were identified and found to be produced with forced labor, child labor, or both, in 58 countries. Agricultural crops comprise the largest category, followed by manufactured goods and mined or quarried goods such as gold and coal. The most common goods in manufacturing listed are cotton, sugarcane, tobacco, coffee, rice, and cocoa in agriculture; bricks, garments, carpets, and footwear. – Adapted U.S. Dept of Labor

 

                        End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes (ECPAT) is a global network of organizations and individuals working together to eliminate child prostitution, pornography and trafficking for sexual purposes. ECPAT with the collaboration of ECPAT International, funded by UNICEF and supported by the UNWTO established a Code of Conduct to encourage the tourism industry to collaborate and respond against the use of its networks and establishments for child-sex tourism. – ECPAT International

 

            Changing long-standing attitudes or practices in society and the government sector often presents some of the most serious challenges to the anti-trafficking movement. But experiences in several countries during the past few years suggest that passage of new anti-trafficking legislation is an efficient means of achieving this change. In many cases, it is easier to change an enforcement practice (for example practices affecting children abused by the sex industry) by adopting a new legal paradigm than it is to attempt to alter enforcement of existing laws that have been traditionally neglected. Generating public awareness around trafficking can lend support to institutional reform efforts and place consumer pressure on complicit businesses. –Adapted from Polaris Project

 

TAKE ACTION

                        If you think or suspect that someone is a victim of human trafficking, call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline 1 - 888 - 3737- 888.

 

                        Stop The Demand For Products Made By Child And Slave Labor - Urge your Senators to ensure that S. 1631 - Customs Reauthorization Bill includes strong restrictions on imported goods made by exploitative labor practices. http://capwiz.com/ipjc/issues/alert/?alertid=14466851.

 

                        Take action to prevent child prostitution by sending a letter to Choice Hotels CEO Steve Joyce, telling him to sign the ECPAT Code of Conduct and commit to preventing child sex tourism in Choice Hotel hotels. http://humantrafficking.change.org/actions/view/tell_Choice_Hotels_to_prevent_child_prostitution_in_their_hotels

 

                        Make sure whenever you buy coffee that it is Fair Trade certified coffee; ask your local coffee shop for Fair Trade coffee. http://www.equalexchange.coop/

                        Take a look at the “List of Country-Specific Goods Likely Made with Child and Slave Labor.” (See pages 29 – 44) http://www.dol.gov/ilab/programs/ocft/PDF/2009TVPRA.pdf

 

SUGGESTED WEBSITES

                        CASTLA - http://www.castla.org/

                        Christian Brothers Investment Services - http://www.cbisonline.com/

                        Code of Conduct - http://www.thecode.org/

                        ECPAT International - http://www.ecpat.net/EI/index.asp

                        Fair Trade www.ocdc.coop/fairtrade/coffee.htm

                        Institute for Human Rights and Business - http://www.institutehrb.org/

                        Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility - http://www.iccr.org/

                        Orange County Human Trafficking Task Force - http://www.egovlink.com/ochumantrafficking/

                        U.N. Global Compact - http://www.unglobalcompact.org/AboutTheGC/

 

PRAYER

God of Justice,

You have given all of your children

human dignity and human rights.

Help us recognize the dignity and the rights

of all of human kind.

Open our hearts to hear your teachings,

open our eyes to the suffering

of those who are denied

their basic economic, social, political and social rights.

Let our voices join in declaring

all humanity is sacred, all human rights must be respected.

Amen –Education for Justice