Mayor Georgios Kaminis convened international experts in Athens for a two-day regional conference focused on the prevention of trafficking in human beings in supply chains through government procurement practices and measures, especially in the Balkan region. During the conference, the Mayor announced plans for a new pilot program to develop policies and implement practices aimed at ensuring that the City of Athens does not, to the fullest extent possible, purchase goods manufactured or contract services provided by victims of human trafficking.
The regional conference is part of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe’s (OSCE) project on Prevention of Trafficking in Human Beings in Supply Chains through Government Practices and Measures. The Athens conference is organized by the OSCE in partnership with the Mayor’s Office, the Office of the National Rapporteur on Trafficking in Human Beings at the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs (ONR), the Athens Partnership and Bloomberg Associates.
The Mayor of Athens, George Kaminis, greeting the opening of the conference, said: "The City of Athens, at the forefront of Europe, seeks to be the first municipality in the country to take a stand and shield its procurement system against companies and products that do not respect anti-trafficking principles."
The City of Athens targets a pioneering role in implementing slavery-free policies at the city level, providing an example for other national, regional and local authorities to follow. The conference marks the announcement of a pilot program through which the City seeks to develop a detailed action plan that involves input from stakeholders such as procurement experts, suppliers and law enforcement and includes concrete steps such as grievance mechanisms, capacity building, mapping of suppliers, and risk assessment and management. Expert support for the program will be provided by the ONR.
“Governments have a crucial part to play in working towards a supply chain that is free of human trafficking and forced labour – and not just at the national level. We see with the City of Athens’ pilot program a tremendous leadership role by a municipal government in this fight, and it is an example that we want to replicate throughout other cities in Greece,” said Heracles Moskoff, National Rapporteur on Trafficking in Human Beings.
The conference gathered attendees and speakers from 15 countries, including representatives of city, regional, and national governments; and professionals from international and non-governmental organizations focused on combating forced labour and trafficking.
Valiant Richey, OSCE Acting Co-ordinator for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings, noted the importance of the Conference’s cross-sectoral group of stakeholders, including attorneys who have worked with trafficking victims, procurement and anti-trafficking officials, multi-national companies, and NGOs. “By bringing together all of the stakeholders who can play a role in developing important government anti-trafficking measures, we can ensure that our efforts can have a significant – and sustainable – impact, in Athens, Greece, the Balkans region, and beyond” Mr. Richey said.
Rose Gill Hearn, former Commissioner of the New York City Department of Investigation during the Bloomberg Administration and Principal of the Municipal Integrity Practice at Bloomberg Associates, an international philanthropic consultancy and a co-organizer of the conference, said, “The City of Athens, through its anti-trafficking public procurement pilot program, is demonstrating its commitment to working against the scourge of labour exploitation in supply chains. We applaud Mayor Kaminis for supporting this conference and initiative to analyse how cities can use their buying power – collectively billions of euro – to safeguard against tainted procurement.”
Alexandros Kambouroglou, Executive Director of the Athens Partnership, a non-profit specializing in philanthropic public-private partnerships, coordinating the City of Athens’ new pilot program, said:
“The complex issue of human trafficking in public supply chains can only be addressed when political initiatives are supported and strengthened by private sector collaboration and know-how”.
The second day of the conference featured in-depth sessions on the recommendations of the OSCE’s Model Guidelines on Government Measures to Prevent Trafficking for Labour Exploitation in Supply Chains. Speakers discussed action that governments can undertake to prevent trafficking in supply chains, such as identifying industry-specific trafficking risks, training public procurement officials and vendors, implementing anti-trafficking due diligence in the procurement process, and developing monitoring and enforcement mechanisms.
For materials related to the Conference, including the presentations from speakers on both days of the event, please see here.