Sharing Good Practices in Protection of Workers and Victims of Modern Slavery During the COVID-19 Pandemic

  • Funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI)
  • Total publications:0 publications

Grant number: AH/V008412/1

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Key facts

  • Disease

  • Known Financial Commitments (USD)

  • Funder

    UK Research and Innovation (UKRI)
  • Principle Investigator

  • Research Location

    United Kingdom, Europe
  • Lead Research Institution

    Keele University
  • Research Category

    Secondary impacts of disease, response & control measures

  • Research Subcategory

    Social impacts

  • Special Interest Tags


  • Study Subject


  • Clinical Trial Details


  • Broad Policy Alignment


  • Age Group


  • Vulnerable Population


  • Occupations of Interest



The main objective of this project is to conduct evidence-based research on the key impacts of COVID-19 on modern slavery and identify/share good practices in protecting workers and victims of modern slavery in order to facilitate a victim-centred approach. The pandemic has posed unprecedented challenges to the protection and promotion of human rights, and its impact on modern slavery is no exception. For instance, it has made a large number of workers across the world unemployed because of the closure of businesses, and this may be encouraging them to seek employment in informal or even illegal economies which are rife with exploitation. For those businesses which have seen an increase in the labour demand (such as agriculture, food production/processing, and manufacturing of medicines and medical equipment), the pandemic may give strong incentive for them to exploit vulnerable individuals. In addition, States are shifting their resources to fighting the pandemic, with the result that anti-slavery efforts may be undermined and those already caught in slavery, forced labour and other slave-like practices are left unidentified and unprotected. At this moment, however, actual impacts are yet to be examined thoroughly as the situation is still evolving and things remain speculative, leaving a number of important questions. For instance, the extent to which unemployment is actually pushing people into slavery and forced labour is not entirely clear. Also, while an increase in demand for labour in certain sectors may give strong incentives for businesses to exploit vulnerable individuals, a clear global trend is yet to be established in this regard. In addition, a question remains as to how the reallocation of States' resources from anti-slavery efforts is contributing to further victimisation of people already held in slavery and forced labour. Finally, there are additional questions in relation to protection measures: Do they address the key impacts of COVID-19 sufficiently? Is protection tailored to address the specific needs of particularly vulnerable populations such as women, children and young people and minorities? Can they be accessed by all workers without discrimination? What are practical difficulties in implementing them? The project aims to answer these questions and fill the existing knowledge gaps. The team will conduct research on the key impacts of the pandemic on modern slavery. It will then identify and assess the appropriateness and effectiveness of measures designed to protect workers and victims of modern slavery with a view to sharing them widely among relevant governmental, civil society, inter-governmental and private stakeholders. Finally, in order to promote a victim centred approach, the team will create "Guiding Principles on Actions against Modern Slavery during the State of Emergency" containing important human rights norms and principles to be upheld by governmental and non-governmental stakeholders. In terms of research methods, the team will employ desktop research of materials already available in public domain, such as reports and literature published by scholars, governments, NGOs, international organisations and other stakeholders. This will be complemented by virtual interviews to be conducted with stakeholders located around the world, allowing the team to triangulate and verify desktop research. At the end of the project, a project report containing an analysis of the impacts of COVID-19 on modern slavery, good practices in protection of workers and victims of modern slavery, and the Guiding Principles on Actions against Modern Slavery during the State of Emergency, will be produced. The report will be launched at dissemination events in London and Geneva, and team will also promote long-term impact through knowledge transfer and public engagement globall