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Contemporary forms of slavery continue to be a major challenge in the 21st century. International law prohibits slavery, human trafficking and forced labour, and states are generally committed to eliminating these human rights abuses. However, according to the International Labour Organization, over 40 million people were in modern slavery on any given day in 2016.

Most modern slavery offences are committed by non-state actors. The most prevalent approach to eradicating modern slavery focuses on the positive obligations of states to ‘prevent, protect and punish’ offences committed by those actors. But there are cases in which states are directly or indirectly involved in the commission of a modern slavery offence through their state policy or through the actions or omissions of a state organ or official. If the involvement of a state amounts to a breach of its international obligations, the international law of state responsibility provides mechanisms to hold it accountable.

King’s College London, in cooperation with the Centre for Policy Research at United Nations University, has developed a research project to examine states’ responsibility for modern slavery. The project has identified the main scenarios in which state involvement arises and has developed legal policy recommendations to advance efforts in tackling modern slavery. The fact patterns of those scenarios and the legal policy recommendations will be presented during the event.

Speaker biography

Dr Rosana Garciandia is Research Associate and Visiting Lecturer in Public International Law at King’s College London. Her work focuses on a project on State responsibility for modern slavery (PI Dr Philippa Webb, funded by the British Academy’s Tackling the UK’s International Challenges Programme). The project, conducted in cooperation with the UN University, explores the involvement of States or their organs in modern slavery cases and analyses the international framework of State responsibility to determine whether it is possible to hold States accountable in such situations and what the challenges of that approach are.

Dr Garciandia joined the Dickson Poon School of Law in 2018 after having acquired extensive experience working at international organisations in the areas of human rights, EU Law and international anti-corruption law. She was the Secretary General of the European Law Institute, an organisation working to improve the quality of law in Europe. She also worked as Legal Research Officer at the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) focusing mainly on socio-economic rights. At the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, she contributed with her work to the review of the implementation of the UN Convention Against Corruption by States Parties. She was previously Lecturer in Public International Law and EU Law at University of Murcia in her native Spain.

She holds a doctorate in Law (PhD) from University of Navarra School of Law and has been a visiting researcher at the Université Libre de Bruxelles, the Graduate Institute and Queen Mary University of London. She was the Coordinator of the Africa Working Group of the Solicitor’s International Human Rights Group (London, 2012) and is a member of the European Society of International Law, of the British Institute of International and Comparative Law and of the European Law Institute.

Discussant biography

Katharine Bryant is Research Manager at Walk Free and co-author of the Global Slavery Index. Katharine oversees Walk Free’s research program on ‘what works?’ to combat modern slavery, including the government response component of the GSI and the promising practices database. Katharine has worked in counter trafficking and anti-slavery programming and research for the past 10 years, including at the International Organization for Migration, Save the Children and UNICEF.




Event details

SW1.18 (first floor)
Somerset House East Wing
Strand Campus, Strand, London WC2R 2LS