Saudi Arabia to Publish Landmark Policy to Eradicate Forced Labor

Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development (MHRSD) has announced that the country will soon approve its national policy on combating forced labor. 

Details of the new policy were shared during a side event of the 111th International Labor Conference, organized by MHRSD. 

As part of its ongoing efforts to combat forced labor in the Kingdom and its global supply chains, the MHRSD Vice Minister for Labor Dr. Abdullah Abuthnain opened the event by highlighting that, based on Vision 2030, the Kingdom has undertaken various initiatives and implemented proactive measures to tackle this issue head-on.
The new national policy on combating forced labor will be the first of its kind in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region, and will build on extensive initiatives that will be implemented in Saudi Arabia over the next three years.

It was developed in consultation with international partners, and the policy will bring into force new requirements including more stringent monitoring of labor conditions and tougher punishment of labor abuses. 
The policy will integrate all sectors of government to combat forced labor, and create effective coordination and collaboration mechanisms to prevent and combat forced labor.

It will also take a thorough and collaborative approach to guarantee that victims have access to the necessary justice and support to recover and rebuild their lives.
Mr. Sattam Alharbi, Deputy Minister for Control and Development of Work Environment, MHRSD, said:
“The scourge of forced labor is a global issue which demands a global solution. Only through international collaboration can we tackle forced labor at scale with the urgency required. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has long prioritized this issue and has taken great strides forward, joining international commitments and setting new standards in the region. The new national policy on combating forced labor is a testament to the importance of this issue to our government.” 
“But we recognize that we must go further to support those still subjected to – or at risk of – forced labor. Working with the International Labor Organization (ILO) and International Organization for Migration (IOM), we are determined to continue spearheading regional progress on this issue. We also recognize that closely engaging with governments and expert groups in labor source markets will be crucial to deliver real change.”
The panel event also covered how international organizations and civil society can support efforts to combat forced labor and promote decent work.
“IOM welcomes the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s ongoing efforts and valued commitment to combating forced labor to ensure protection of foreign workers. The new policy on combating forced labor is crucial and stands as a landmark for KSA and the MENA region as a whole,” said Mr. Mohamed El Zarkani – IOM Chief of Mission in Bahrain and Head of Gulf Coordination Unit. “We will continue working with our valued and strategic partners in KSA and GCC to provide technical consultation and programmatic support to combat forced labor in all its shapes and forms.”

In 2021, the ILO acknowledged Saudi Arabia’s firm commitment to combating forced labor in all its forms, including human trafficking. As the first GCC nation to ratify the Protocol of 2014 to the Forced Labor Convention, it set an important regional precedent and built on its ongoing work, which includes the adoption of a Human Trafficking Act in 2009 and a National Plan for Combating Human Trafficking, which was renewed in 2021. 
The intensified focus on combating forced labor forms part of the Ministry’s long-term commitment to ensuring the equal protection of workers’ and employers’ rights and supports its work under Vision 2030 to improve working conditions in the Kingdom.