Modern slavery
Modern slavery

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

Free course

Modern slavery

4.1 What is forced labour?

The legal definition of forced labour is set out in the ILO’s Forced Labour Convention, (no. 29) 1930. It defines forced labour as: ‘all work or service which is exacted from any person under the menace of a penalty and for which the said person has not offered himself voluntarily’. This Convention has been ratified by over 170 states and obliges them to ‘suppress the use of forced or compulsory labour in all its forms within the shortest possible period’. Forced labour is also prohibited by the key international human rights instruments. For example, Article 8 of the ICCPR 1966 also prohibits the use of forced labour and has been ratified by more than 160 states. Most states in the world have ratified at least one (if not both) of these instruments. China is the only country in the world, which has not ratified either of these international standards (information correct as of July 2014).  

The ILO estimates that nearly 21 million people are victims of forced labour worldwide and that the forced labour industry generates annual profits of $150 billion (ILO, 2014).

Watch this short video, Lured by a Job, Trapped in Forced Labour (2014) produced by the ILO, which shows the reality faced by the victims of forced labour. Please note that there is no verbal soundtrack to the video.

Download this video clip.Video player: Lured by a Job, Trapped in Forced Labour
Lured by a Job, Trapped in Forced Labour (2014)
Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).

Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to University-level study, we offer two introductory routes to our qualifications. You could either choose to start with an Access module, or a module which allows you to count your previous learning towards an Open University qualification. Read our guide on Where to take your learning next for more information.

Not ready for formal University study? Then browse over 1000 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus371