Martin Niblett, Head of FCDO Modern Slavery Team, says UK is committed to supporting a new Global Commission on Modern Slavery to inject political momentum at this critical time.

Thank you very much, moderator, and thank you to the panellists for their insightful presentations. The UK does of course recognise the importance of national mechanisms to tackle the terrible crimes of modern slavery and human trafficking.

We also recognise that this is a global challenge that demands a united global response. We have heard during the course of these two days that vulnerability to exploitation has dramatically increased over the last five years. The role of the COVID-19 pandemic, conflict and humanitarian crises, and the adverse effects of climate change are clear. I also want to highlight that Russia’s unprovoked assault on Ukraine is contributing to this increase.

The UK and other OSCE participating states must continue to work with a range of partners to ensure that victims are provided with the support they need to begin rebuilding their lives and that those responsible are prosecuted.

We have a complex and wide-ranging set of structures to address this issue. This conference is one of the most successful, demonstrating the importance of such global and national leadership to tackle this crime.

But we recognise that at the highest level, this issue has lost political momentum in recent years. That is understandable given the challenges governments have faced including the Covid pandemic.

So whilst we do not want to duplicate any existing structures there is room for a time-limited effort to inject new political momentum.

That is why the UK is committed to supporting Theresa May in her work to establish a new Global Commission on Modern Slavery. Such a commission will inject political momentum at this critical time, and will support the global community to achieve our shared goal of eradicating modern slavery and human trafficking by 2030.

We echo the comments made by Theresa May yesterday and urge all those participating States who have not already done so to evaluate how they can support this important new initiative.

And finally, we would like to pay tribute to the Special Representative, and thank you for your leadership and tireless work over the past four years. We wish you all the best for the future.

Published 19 April 2023