Groundbreaking law to eradicate forced labour from supply chains approved in the EU today

24th April | Parliamentarians in the EU today voted in favour of a historic law requiring companies to investigate and eradicate forced labour in their supply chains. This Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive (CSDDD) will impact workers globally and send a powerful message that the EU is taking a strong stand against forced labour. The Directive was approved with 374 votes against 235 and 19 abstentions.

Today’s EU Parliament vote sets in motion a law that will have a positive impact on the 17.3 million people estimated to be in forced labour in the private sector, and the estimated 3.9 million people exploited in state-imposed forced labour. The law, which follows yesterday’s vote on the complementary Forced Labour Regulation, compels companies to conduct effective human rights and environmental due diligence on their supply chains. Core aspects of the law include:

  • Large companies will have to conduct due diligence on most of their value chain, which extends from raw materials to the distribution of goods once they’re ready for sale.
  • This due diligence goes beyond just relying on social audits and includes consideration of a company’s purchasing practices as a contributor to harm.
  • Companies under scope will be required to meaningfully engage with stakeholders (including workers and their representatives) in their due diligence processes.
  • A core component of the due diligence process outlined in the law is that companies may have to provide remedy when harm is found.

Anti-Slavery International applauds the progress of this important law and congratulates all of the politicians, business advocates, workers and members of civil society who have made this law possible. However, we have been truly disappointed by the turbulence caused by Germany, Italy, France and other member states in the final stages of the political process. The last-minute political and business wrangling watered down the law, and hampered the potential impact of this important milestone, sending a sinister message to workers around the world.

Despite the watering down of the law, it can still have a tremendous impact on workers around the world. Designed to complement the recently agreed-upon Forced Labour Regulation, the Directive shows countries worldwide that true progress to ending forced labour in supply chains is achievable.

“Everyone deserves to live, and work, in freedom, but we know that there are over 21 million people in forced labour all around the world, producing the products and providing the services we use every day. But this is a brilliant week for workers all around the world. The agreement of CSDDD – which follows swiftly from the vote on the Forced Labour Regulation – is such an important milestone towards truly eradicating forced labour in supply chains.

While we have been extremely disappointed to see politicians allow political and business interests nearly topple this crucial law, we are happy to see the EU upholding its commitment to ending forced labour in supply chains. Together, with workers from supply chains all around the world, we look forward to working with the EU to embed and uphold this groundbreaking law.” Sian Lea, Business and Human Rights Manager, Anti-Slavery International.

“Businesses have a responsibility to respect human rights, but many don’t do so voluntarily. We welcome the EU’s momentous CSDDD legislation, which will go a long way to level the playing field and foster collaborative approaches. This is a crucial step to ensure the protection of human rights and the environmental in global supply chains, and to hold those responsible for abuse accountable”.  Joke Aerts, Lead, Tony’s Open Chain at Tony’s Chocolonely.

“After years of advocating for this directive, we are pleased with the vote today. This law could have a tremendous impact on migrant workers in supply chains around the world. We are particularly pleased with the requirement for businesses to meaningfully engage with workers in various stages of their due diligence process. This type of mandatory engagement is essential to ensuring worker harm is reduced.” Shakirul Islam, Executive Director, Ovibashi Karmi Unnayan Program.


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Anti-Slavery International is the world’s oldest human rights campaign, founded in 1839. It exists to challenge contemporary forms of slavery wherever they exist by tackling modern slavery’s root causes. Working in partnership with survivors, experts and its members, Anti-Slavery International manages projects in countries worldwide to help communities understand and eliminate the causes and adverse effects of modern slavery through legislative change, research and advocacy.