The Rights Track podcast gets the hard facts about the human rights challenges facing the world today and aims to get our thinking about human rights on the right track.
The podcast is hosted by Professor Todd Landman, a human rights scholar and champion for the advancement of human rights understanding.
In Series 5, we dig deeper into the relationship between SDG 8.7 and the United Nations’ other Sustainable Development Goals. We ask if developing stronger institutions could lead to slave-free supply chains or if making businesses better is the route to a world free of slavery by 2030. How does achieving these goals together lead to the single aim of a better and more sustainable future for us all?
The Rights Track is supported by the Nuffield Foundation, the Economic and Social Research Council, and the University of Nottingham.
Each episode is an insightful, compelling and rigorous interview with academics engaged in systematic human rights research.
In Series 1, funded by the Nuffield Foundation, Todd interviews leading analysts at the forefront of the latest critical thinking on human rights.
In Series 2, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, The Rights Track turns its attention to human rights advocates and practitioners involved in the struggle for human rights to learn more about their work and the ways in which academic research is helping them.
In Series 3, our podcast joins the fight to end modern day slavery by 2030. In partnership with the University of Nottingham's Right's Lab research project, we talk with researchers who are providing hard evidence about the scale of the problem and by recommending strategies that can help consign slavery to the history books.
Series 4 continues with the theme of modern slavery and sees our podcast on the road, capturing the voices, thoughts and ideas of people from around the world who are part of the global coalition to end it.
Although our interviews focus on often complex research, they have been developed with a much wider audience in mind and we ensure they are accessible to anyone with an interest in human rights.
The podcast is produced and edited by former BBC journalist and founder of Research Podcasts, Christine Garrington. If you would like to get involved with The Rights Track, we have a Facebook Group where you can keep up with the project, suggest ideas for guests and questions you'd like us to ask on your behalf. You can also follow us on Twitter @RightsTrack.
Advancing human rights: what have we learned from The Rights Track?
In this first of two special episodes of The Rights Track, Todd reflects on what has been learned about the advancement of human rights from our podcast since it was launched in 2015.
Episodes featured How is the church leading the fight to end modern slavery? Rt Rev Alastair Redfern
Crunching numbers: modern slavery and statistics Sir Bernard Silverman
Eye in the sky: rooting out slavery from space Doreen Boyd
Hating the haters: tackling radical right groups in the United States Heidi Beirich
Picture this: using photography to make a case for environmental rights Garth Lenz
Refugees: why hard times need hard facts Gonzalo Vargas LLosa
In the minority: the right to identity, culture and heritage Clare Thomas
Evidence for change: the work of Human Rights Watch Iain Levine
Advancing human rights the Amnesty way Meghna Abraham
Islam and the West: questions of human rights Akbar Ahmed
Pursuing justice: what role for research evidence? Dixon Osburn
Women and Trump: a question of rights? Monica Casper
Gay rights - how far have we come? Richard Beaven
Does America need a Truth Commission? Karen Salt and Christopher Phelps
Human rights: reasons to be joyful William Simmionds
Making human rights our business Shareen Hertel
How can statistics advance human rights? Patrick Ball
A matter of opinion: What do we really think about human rights? James Ron
Beyond GDP: a measure of economic and social rights Sakiko Fukuda-Parr
Modern day slavery: counting and accounting Kevin Bales
How do we count victims of torture? Will Moore
Do NGOs matter? Amanda Murdie
Are we better at human rights than we used to be? Chris Fariss
The Congo, cobalt and cash: what connects SDGs 9 and 8.7?
S05 E08 Siddharth Kara from the Carr Centre for Human Rights Policy at Harvard Kennedy School and Hannah Lerigo-Stephens from the Rights Lab at the University of Nottingham discuss the business of modern slavery and what it will take to get corporations everywher
The business of modern slavery: what connects SDG 8.7 with its overarching SDG8?
In Episode 7 of Series 5, Todd is joined by John Gathergood, Professor of Economics at the University of Nottingham, and Genevieve LeBaron, Professor of Politics at the University of Sheffield. John’s research focuses on understanding consumer behaviour in financial markets, and more recently the impact of the COVID19 pandemic on households. Genevieve’s work is at the forefront of the emerging evidence base on forced labour, human trafficking, and slavery in the global economy.
In this episode, the discussion focusses on the interaction between the broader goals of SDG 8 and target SDG 8.7, which focuses on ending modern slavery by 2030.
Todd begins the discussion by asking John to give an overview on the drivers of economic growth and the benefits of trade.
Growth is seen as the result of a combination of technological evolution and the development of skills leading to increasingly efficient production processes However, the benefits of growth are not evenly distributed This leads to the creation of winners (the owners of capital and the organisers of production) and losers (those not in control of production processes) In John’s view the current COVID pandemic has brought this inequality more sharply into focus, along with the need to ensure that economic growth does not come at the expense of exploitation of certain labour groups.
05.00 – 07.33
Todd asks John about the role of trade and John say it is fundamental in generating growth. He points out that:
One of the foundations of the capitalist system is trade and specialisation. Trade facilitates specialisation and growth There have been waves of globalisation throughout history (often associated with pandemics) The last 30 years have seen the largest international movement of capital affecting the location of production and the development of increasingly complex supply chains, which has been good for growth However, he adds that the fragmentation of production has exacerbated inequality, made complex supply chains very difficult to monitor, and susceptible to labour exploitation.
07.33 – 10.36
In Genevieve’s view, discussions on growth often overlook the business models at the centre of the mass production, fast turnover retail sector producing cheap disposable goods.
Her research suggests the business models are “hard wired” to produce inequality and labour exploitation. Problems in supply chains are longstanding. Throughout history, capitalism has relied heavily on the exploitation of vulnerable groups for forced labour and slavery. 10.36 – 16.33
Genevieve’s research, covering retail supply chains in China, tea and cocoa supply chains in India and Ghana, and garment supply chains in Southern India, has yielded several insights.
Labour exploitation is not unusual. Common patterns emerge Why certain businesses have an endemic demand for forced labour How and why supply chains are set up to facilitate labour exploitation, in terms of how businesses make money from forced labour, and the business models they use There are clear and discernable patterns regarding both the supply and demand drivers of forced labour in global supply chains. She argues that:
Although the geography of exploitation and the people involved has changed over time, some form of forced labour is a constant factor in the capitalist model of production throughout history Solutions to issues of labour exploitation need to go beyond looking just at supply chains and confront the structures which have given rise to these problems John adds that a key factor in supply chains is lack of accountability (anonymity) in the upper levels of supply chains, which is useful for efficient production, but can lead to labour exploitation lower down the chain.
16.33 – 19.50
The discussion moves on to the persistence of unfree labour globally
Global partnerships to end modern slavery: what connects SDGs 8.7 and 17?
S05 E06 Jasmine O'Connor and Emily Wyman discuss the connections between the UN Sustainable Goals SDG 8.7 on tackling modern slavery and SDG 17 on sustainable consumption and production patterns
Creating stronger places for child rights: what connects SDGs 8.7 and 11?
In Episode 5 of Series 5 of The Rights Track, Todd is talking with Ravi Prakash and Phil Northall. Ravi is a consultant for the Freedom Fund’s new Rajasthan ‘hotspot’, which is an approach used to carry out work on specific geographic areas with a high prevalence of modern slavery. He is a child rights specialist with experience working on issues such as child protection and right to education. Phil works as part of the University of Nottingham Rights Lab's Communities and Society Programme to understand and advance local responses to modern slavery. This includes work to build a slavery-resilient cities index to help us better understand how communities become slavery-free and slavery-proof. Together with Todd they discuss the connections between the UN Sustainable Goals SDG 8.7 on tackling modern slavery and SDG 11 on creating sustainable cities.
00.00 – 06.29
Phil begins by outlining a model of a resilient city. The model is adapted from the original work of Hollings and then Hollings in collaboration with others. Described as an adaptive cycle of reslience. It combines the ability to recover from incidents of slavery with reducing/removing vulnerability to slavery going forward.
Four stages of the model are described:
Diagnosis of a problem and identifying “assets” for resilience Challenge - using survivor voices Engaging with key institutions (media and business) for change Evaluation, review and re-assess “Assets” are defined as:
Bringing together police, local authorities and charities in partnerships to share resources information and ideas on best practice Survivor support systems (especially availability of safe accommodation) The aim is to develop a regional resilience map for Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire. Recent experience in sharing the model in Brazil showed that the challenge of getting agencies to work together is the same although the cultures are different.
06.29 – 13.55
Ravi talks about the Jaipur Child Labour Free Initiative,.
He explains that large numbers of children are involved in forced labour. Many are trafficked from marginalised communities in Bihar state by powerful members of their own community and taken to employers in Jaipur.
They are trapped in a form of bonded labour cut off from their families and living in poor conditions. Others are local and return home daily Laws to protect child rights are ignored Very little money finds its way back to the families Once in the system the children “disappear” families find it hard to contact them The project involves the effective collaboration of a wide range of partners including local businesses, the judiciary, and child victims with the aim of changing existing practices using child labour.
The project has achieved notable successes including five child labour convictions.
13.55 – 15.44
Ravi goes onto explain that strong links exist between civil society, prosecutors and state/national government.
Co-operation between agencies and Bihar state government resulted in rescued children gaining documentation and access to rehabilitation packages The Police Centre for Child Protection is a strategic partner of the programme State government is fully engaged with the programme 15.44 – 17.20
Phil compares the Jaipur initiative to his model and finds a large degree of match on all four levels, especially:
Co-operation between stakeholders Engagement with judiciary/police Re-training of survivors Steps to minimise re-exploitation 17.20 – 19.40
Education is a key entitlement for the children and a key focus of the project.
For trafficked children from Bihar:
60% of returning children have returned to education There is increased protection from traffickers who live close by Less than 2% of children are now being trafficked Increasing numbers are receiving state compensation For local c
Walking the supply chain to uphold human rights: what connects SDGs 12 and 8.7
In Episode 4 of Series 5 of the Rights Track, Todd is talking with Elaine Michel-Hill and Arianne Griffith. Elaine is the business and human rights lead at Marshalls plc, a leading hard landscape company serving both the commercial and domestic construction markets with multiple operating sites in the UK and supply chains across the globe. Arianne leads the Rights Lab Modern Slavery Evidence Unit’s (MSEU) deployment of research for business application. Her work also focuses on effective law and policy to tackle modern slavery in supply chains and the application of business and human rights frameworks to the anti-slavery agenda. Together with Todd they discuss the connections between the UN Sustainable Goals SDG 8.7 on tackling modern slavery and SDG 12 on sustainable consumption and production patterns.
00.00 – 02.17
Elaine outlines the work of Marshalls plc, a major supplier of construction products including natural stone. She explains that most of the natural stone is sourced outside of the UK in over 30 countries including Brazil, China, India and Vietnam and notes that it is in these operations and its supply chains, where there is the greatest risk of human rights abuses.
02.17 – 07.15
Elaine describes how, over a number of years, she has closely observed the quarrying process at first hand. Most stone originates from quarries they operate and the company has a dialogue with local operators to understand local labour contexts. They also source stone on the open market where that dialogue is less possible. In the quarries operated by Marshalls, for example in India, all stone extraction is mechanised and over the last 15 years the labour requirement has noticeably reduced. However, she is aware that hand labour is still extensively used in other quarries. As a result of work with local suppliers the use of child labour is less obvious. However, she suspects it still exists, out of sight, and has strong connections to bonded labour and forced labour.
07.15 – 11.40
Arianne reviews a range of information and guidance for both states and companies and points to 2011 as a significant turning point in relation to corporate business and supply chains with the unanimous adoption by the Human Rights Council of the Guiding Principles on business and human rights. They gave rise to a number of instruments and resources and outline:
the duty of states to protect human rights the duty of companies to respect human rights the joint duty of both to find remedies to abuses of human rights This has led to two significant advances:
It gave companies a framework on which to build policy Companies began to discuss the issues with one another and state actors In terms of delivering on the guidelines, corporate responsibility exists irrespective of the state’s capacity to deliver protection of human rights. Although the guidelines are not binding, in Arianne’s view companies are increasingly accepting responsibility to meet them.
She points out that the OECD guidelines for multi-national enterprises provide a slightly different framework. In Arianne’s view, however, there is a real need for legislation at the national level.
11.40 – 15.19
Elaine’s experience is that even without legislation companies can develop a responsible approach to human rights. Her own company, she points out were early signatories to the United Nations Global Compact. Its value was:
The framework for action it provided It was an expression of public commitment to the spirit of the Compact The existing “philanthropic” culture within the company made the process of embedding the ideas and developing policies relatively straightforward. This also has benefits for maintaining a good reputation with customers; a process Elaine describes as commercialising an approach to sustainability. This protects the long