New UN data tool shows ‘mismatch’ between government aid and places modern slavery exists

ILO/A. Khemka Forced labour often means unpaid wages, excessively long work hours without rest days, confiscation of ID documents, little freedom of movement, deception, intimidation and physical or sexual violence. ILO/A. Khemka

This article is brought to you in association with the United Nations.


A new interactive data tool created by the UN University Centre for Policy Research, which shows a mismatch between where modern slavery occurs, and where governments are spending resources to address it, could help make a positive impact on policy debates surrounding the issue.

The release of Modern Slavery Data Stories, a series of easily understandable animated graphics, provides detailed pictures of the ways that factors related to modern slavery have changed over time, and comes during a period when over 40 million people are living in slavery, more than ever before in human history.

UN-led research shows that half of those enslaved are victims of forced labour in industries such as farming, mining and domestic service, while the rest are victims of sex slavery, forced marriage slavery and child slavery. According to the latest Global Slavery Index, published by the Walk Free Foundation, the three countries with the highest prevalence of modern slavery are North Korea, Eritrea and Burundi.

Breaking down the complex story of modern slavery

Modern Slavery Data Stories are developed by Delta 8.7, an innovative project from the United Nations University’s Centre for Policy Research, in collaboration with technologists from the prestigious Carnegie Mellon University in the US, to help policy-makers understand and use data , in order to create effective legislation.

In an exclusive interview with UN News, Dr. James Cockayne, Director of the Centre for Policy Research, and head of Delta 8.7, says that eradicating slavery by 2030 would require freeing around 9,000 people every day, a rate far higher than that currently being achieved.

One of the ways to get there, says Dr. Cockayne, is to break down this complex phenomenon and present it in ways that influential non-experts can comprehend. Because data on these subjects has been so patchy, he says, this story has been difficult to tell, so Delta 8.7 built a machine-learning algorithm, which scoured official aid programme descriptions to figure out which countries committed how much, to tackle which forms of exploitation, when and where.

This is how his team discovered the mismatch between where modern slavery occurs, and where governments are spending resources to address it: “That kind of insight, made obvious through these powerful visuals, can have a real impact on policy debates.”

Slavery: a feature of global society

For Dr. Cockayne, the key thing that has been learned from analysis of the data, has been that modern slavery is actually a product of the way the global political and economic system works: “it is a feature, not a bug.”

As the Global Slavery Index shows, many of the products we take for granted, including mobile phones, computers and cars; as well as clothes, cosmetics and even food, are produced using raw materials extracted by people living in a state of slavery.

Solutions, therefore, will have to be system-wide, involving all elements of society, from the technology industry to the global financial sector. “Partnerships are key.” And modern slavery victims, he says, must form a part of the process, because “Without their voices informing research, programming and strategy, we risk not only being ineffective, but actually doing further harm.”

Sustainable Development Goal 8: decent work for all

The ambition to eradicate modern slavery by 2030 forms part of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, a pathway to eradicating poverty and achieving sustainable development, which was adopted by all the UN Member States in 2015. Goal 8 calls for the “promotion of sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all,” and it contains several targets and indicators, one of which, Target 8.7, is to take “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.”

Looking forward, as the data and evidence gathered through Delta 8.7 helps to build up an informed understanding of what is working, the project will feed research into an upcoming report of the UN Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Slavery, Ms. Urmila Bhoola, which will be delivered to the Human Rights Council later this year.

the sting Milestones

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

UN chief pays tribute to the courage of DR Congo citizens, and the sacrifice of blue helmets

Low productivity jobs continue to drive employment growth

How can we build a workforce for our digital future?

Why the ocean holds the key to sustainable development

One day your doctor might prescribe healthy food and a museum visit – here’s why

7 ways to break the fast fashion habit – and save the planet

EU invests more than €100 million in new LIFE Programme projects to promote a green and climate-neutral Europe

EC v Samsung: A whole year to compile a case

Autumn 2019 Economic Forecast: A challenging road ahead

3 ways to nurture collaboration between universities and industry

Scotland in United Kingdom: It’s either the end or the beginning of the end

A 10-step plan to save our seas

After globalization what? Europe’s long, straining shake-up post Davos wreckage

What keeps me up at night? Two strategists reply

The Silent Pandemic: The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on mental health

5G networks: to slice or not to slice?

Migration Crisis: how to open the borders and make way for the uprooted

Stop wars disguised as peace missions

Ship Recycling is the Commission’s Titanic

Madagascar: UN Secretary-General reaffirms support for electoral process

Glasgow and Edinburgh race to become the UK’s first net-zero emissions city

Asking for more restriction on intra EU immigration: Unproductive and politically dangerous

3 tech design principles to help curb digital repression

Is your business model fit for the Fourth Industrial Revolution?

Plastic waste from Western countries is poisoning Indonesia

Why Europe is more competitive than the US

Commission reports on progress made by Albania and North Macedonia

Is Data Privacy really safe seen through Commissioner’s PRISM?

How can entrepreneurship tackle the migration crisis in the EU?

EU consumer rules: Airbnb cooperates with European Commission and EU consumer authorities improving the way it presents offers

5 of the world’s deadliest infectious diseases

The Banking Union divides deeply the European Union

3 reasons why responsibly-deployed technology is key to the COVID recovery

5 ways to make your organization a great sustainability partner

Soccer is back with strict COVID-19 rules. Here’s what you need to know

6 young leaders who are improving the state of the world on International Youth Day

Death as a Global Public Health Issue

Nearly half a billion people can’t find decent work; unemployment set to rise: new UN labour report

The road ahead to building a more sustainable world

These Indian fishermen take plastic out of the sea and use it to build roads

Somalia: UN congratulates Puntland region’s newly-elected President

The importance of Yellow September and suicide prevention in Brazil

EU announces €25 million for education in crisis contexts and €140 million to support research in sustainable food systems

Draghi tells the Parliament the ECB to use all its weaponry; euro slides to parity with the dollar

Financial support for workers affected by no-deal Brexit

Youth Internationalization: part of everyday life in JADE

Planes can now fly for 21 hours non-stop. But are people ready?

ECB readies itself for extraordinary monetary measures defying Germany

State aid: Commission approves €1 billion Cypriot scheme to support enterprises and self-employed individuals in context of coronavirus outbreak

Europe divided: 30 years on from the fall of the Berlin Wall

3 things to know about India’s space programme

European Youth Event 2020: giving a voice to young people to influence EU policy

Fairer and clearer rules on social benefits for EU mobile workers agreed

Gender Equality in Medicine: are we now so different from the Middle Ages?

COP21 Breaking News_12 December: The New Draft Agreement!

Common charger: a long-awaited proposal requested by Parliament

Kosovo elections: ‘Most significant change’ in 12 years, Security Council hears

International community urged to deliver on promise for better future for Bosnia and Herzegovina

EU decides “in absentia” of civil society

Europe’s far-right launches attacks on neighboring nations

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: