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About Neil Howard

Neil Howard is an academic activist and Fellow at the Institute of Development Policy, University of Antwerp. His research focuses on unfree labour, and on the workings of the policy establishment as it seeks to respond. Follow him on twitter @NeilPHoward.

Articles by Neil Howard

This week’s editor

Rosemary Belcher-2.jpg

Rosemary Bechler is openDemocracy’s Editor.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

Confronting the root causes of forced labour: where do we go from here?

A lot of work remains to be done in order to end forced labour. Thankfully, organisers and advocates around the globe are pioneering promising solutions. It's time to follow their lead.

Confronting root causes: forced labour in global supply chains

Forced labour is all around us, but not how you think. 'Confronting root causes' pulls together research from across the world to explain where it comes from and what we can do about it.

Confronting the root causes of forced labour: the meaning of freedom

Where does the force in 'forced labour' come from? Those who believe that poverty and globalisation are the root causes of forced labour need a broader understanding of freedom and coercion.

Confronting the root causes of forced labour: globalisation and the rise of supply chains

Too often, globalisation is viewed as inevitable. How does this shape our understanding of the link between globalisation and forced labour?

Confronting the root causes of forced labour: poverty

Poverty isn’t just about lacking money –  it interacts with the demands of the market society to shape people’s vulnerability to forced labour.

Confronting the root causes of forced labour: identity and discrimination

Social discrimination based on race, caste, gender and other factors is a crucial component of the forced labour equation. 

Confronting the root causes of forced labour: limited labour protection

Freedom from forced labour depends on workers' ability to access labour protections. Why are so many them unable to do so?

Confronting the root causes of forced labour: restrictive mobility regimes

Border restrictions are often justified as measures to protect migrants from "trafficking", but borders actually increase migrants' vulnerability to forced labour and labour exploitation. 

Confronting the root causes of forced labour: concentrated corporate power and ownership

Multinational corporations are becoming increasingly powerful – and this has serious implications for workers at the bottom of supply chains. 

Confronting the root causes of forced labour: irresponsible sourcing practices

Forced labour is illegal and its risks are widely documented. Yet so many companies continue to use irresponsible sourcing practices – established triggers of forced labour. Why is this the case?

Confronting the root causes of forced labour: outsourcing

Outsourcing allows big brands to distance themselves from big human rights abuses, including forced labour.

Confronting the root causes of forced labour: governance gaps

Governance gaps help employers push problems of forced labour even deeper into the shadows of supply chains.

Interview: forced rescue and humanitarian trafficking

Many anti-trafficking oragnisations prioritise donor preferences over actually improving the lives of 'vitcims'.

How not to achieve a sustainable development goal

Turf wars, unrealistic targets, and misconceptions of the problem. What else could go wrong in the quest to end 'modern slavery' and provide decent work for all?

The social and political roots of exploitation in India

What is it that allows severe labour rights abuses to flourish in India? The answer is more complicated than poverty alone.

Organising the unorganised in India

When will the workers of India become sufficiently united to demand a change in terms?

Collective bargaining in the Global(ised) South

Indian trade unions need networks of activists all along the supply chain if they’re to successfully take on multinational corporations.

Human smuggling: the pride of Niger's economy

Niger would be in for a rough ride if efforts to end human smuggling were taken seriously, and the European Union knows it.

The Native American casualties of US immigration policy

The O'Odham nation lives on both sides of the US-Mexican border, and for that they are persecuted.

Human smuggling: the tunnel underneath economic apartheid

American and European border policies defend economic inequality far more than national sovereignty or security.

What’s wrong with the World Day Against Child Labour?

Working children everywhere reject the mainstream anti-child labour paradigm. A major new video campaign tells us why.

#ILC2016: What happened? What’s next?

This year’s International Labour Conference could represent a turning point in the struggle to regulate global supply chains.

Making supply chains work for workers? The 2016 International Labour Conference and beyond

Employers, worker’s organisations and politicians are gathering to discuss decent work in global supply chains. BTS launches three months of multimedia analysis asking how – if at all – we can guarantee it.

‘Utopia for Realists?’ - a review

‘If we can get enough people to read this, the world will start to become a better place’. High praise indeed. But can the book live up to it?

The practical necessity of utopian thinking

BTS editors introduce their series on utopia, arguing that only by striving for utopia can we hope to move beyond the limited liberties that are commonly mistaken for freedom.

Why (and how!) we need to talk to ‘the victims’

We’ll never overturn the trafficking narratives backed by big (and bad) data unless we take the time to speak with the workers and ‘victims’ themselves.

Are we really saving the children?

BTS editors introduce their issue on 'generations' by arguing that contemporary child savers often damage the children they seek to save because they operate under severely flawed assumptions.

On freedom and (im)mobility: how states create vulnerability by controlling human movement

Beyond Slavery introduces its next issue on trafficking, smuggling and migration, arguing that mobility is central to life and that state restrictions on movement are the true threat to human wellbeing.

Forced labour is big business: states and corporations are doing little to stop it

The recent flurry of government, corporate, and NGO initiatives to eradicate slavery does little to tackle underlying causes. Until this changes, severe exploitation will thrive in the global economy.

Basic income and the anti-slavery movement

Unconditional basic income is not only feasible, but it also has more emancipatory potential than any other single policy because it targets economic vulnerability, the heart of all labour exploitation.

Introducing Beyond Slavery’s month on forced labour in the global political economy

Beyond Trafficking and Slavery editors introduce their February issue exploring the political economic contexts of slavery, trafficking and forced labour, and examining global efforts to confront their root causes.

Beyond Slavery so far…

At the end of 2014, our editorial partnership Beyond Trafficking and Slavery looks back at the ground covered and previews all that is still to come.

On Bolivia’s new child labour law

Evo Morales has been condemned for lowering the working age in Bolivia to 10. But when child labour remains a given, it is in the children’s best interests to formalise and regulate it.

Slavery and trafficking: beyond the hollow call

Reports on modern slavery miss the target when they blame individual actions and ‘a few bad apples’. This is a systemic problem, and the only solution can be a complete system overhaul.

Introducing: Beyond Trafficking and Slavery

This week’s special feature was edited by Neil Howard, Genevieve LeBaron and Cameron Thibos from openDemocracy’s new editorial partnership, Beyond Trafficking and Slavery.

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