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Two years of the ‘Irish slaves’ myth: racism, reductionism and the tradition of diminishing the transatlantic slave trade

The myth of ‘Irish slaves’ and of an ‘equality of suffering’ between enslaved Africans and white Europeans has gone mainstream, appearing everywhere to legitimate racism and to undermine black rights struggles.

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A group carries confederate flags past a Black Lives Matter rally in Oklahoma City on 10 July 2016. Sue Ogrocki/Press Association. All rights reserved.
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Two years of the ‘Irish slaves’ myth: racism, reductionism and the tradition of diminishing the transatlantic slave trade

The myth of ‘Irish slaves’ and of an ‘equality of suffering’ between enslaved Africans and white Europeans has gone mainstream, appearing everywhere to legitimate racism and to undermine black rights struggles.

openDemocracy.net - free thinking for the world
A group carries confederate flags past a Black Lives Matter rally in Oklahoma City on 10 July 2016. Sue Ogrocki/Press Association. All rights reserved.

Mandatory transparency, discretionary disclosure

New transparency regulations in some places theoretically require companies to report on forced labour in their supply chains, but a new review finds that's not what's happening.

The Netherlands’ proposed ban on foreign adoption and the (ab)uses of ‘scientific expertise’

The scholarly work backing a Dutch board's recommendation to ban all foreign adoptions has been attacked as 'unscientific'. Does that argument hold water?

The all-purpose cop-out of ‘anti-competitiveness’

Companies, especially since the crisis, make the case that advances in workers’ rights lessen the competitiveness of an economy. Should we believe them?

Two years of the ‘Irish slaves’ myth: racism, reductionism and the tradition of diminishing the transatlantic slave trade

The myth of ‘Irish slaves’ and of an ‘equality of suffering’ between enslaved Africans and white Europeans has gone mainstream, appearing everywhere to legitimate racism and to undermine black rights struggles.

The human rights of labourers

Companies haven’t earned our trust when it comes to protecting workers’ rights, so why do states give them the benefit of doubt?

Getting the state to switch sides in the fight for workers' rights

Workers can beat big business when they come together, but the fight would certainly be easier if the state were generally on their side.

Special rapporteur to UN: bring labour rights and human rights together

The state is the only force large enough to defend workers’ rights from big business, so why is it so often batting for the wrong team?

"If I were born again, I would still be a sex worker"

Elena Reynaga, RedTraSex Executive Secretary and founder of AMMAR shares her story, the success of her organisations and the ongoing fight for sex worker rights in Latin America. Interview. Español

Is the UK a world leader in the fight against modern slavery?

The UK’s Modern Slavery Act was meant to put Britain at the forefront of the fight against modern slavery, but its focus on prosecution does little to help the vulnerable.

Could supply chains protect migrant domestic workers?

Migrant domestic workers are often amongst the least protected workers in the economy. But what protection opportunities open if we consider them part of the ‘care supply chain’?

Wrapup: can corporations be trusted to tackle modern slavery?

Enforcement of labour protections will remain an issue, but there's still a reason to require corporate due diligence on forced labour in supply chains.

Tortured for ransom: extortion on migrant routes

The phenomenon of torture for ransom is increasingly occurring on migrant routes as a new form of human trafficking.

Passing the buck on labour rights protection

We shouldn't hold our breath waiting for developing countries to enforce their own labour laws, so that can't be the answer for stopping forced labour.

Becky is dead

Becky’s life represents the world in microcosm. She isn’t the first of the migrants I’ve worked with to have died and will unlikely be the last. Becky was 28 years old.

Voices from the supply chain: an interview with the National Guestworker Alliance

BTS speaks with JJ Rosenbaum of the National Guestworker Alliance on ways to protect workers in global supply chains, including a global minimum wage.

Voices from the supply chain: an interview with Home Net Indonesia

BTS speaks with Cecilia Susiloretno of Home Net Indonesia on the penetration of global supply chains into many workers' homes.

Voices from the supply chain: an interview with Home-Net, Thailand

BTS speaks with Suntaree Saeng-ging on the informal economy in Thailand.

World Bank investment on Assam’s tea plantations: hearing the voices of workers?

The forthcoming release of a World Bank investigation into rights violations of tea plantation workers in Assam represents an incredible achievement for communities who have raised their voice against formidable odds.

Al consejo de Derechos Humanos, el Alto Comisionado de Derechos Humanos y la Asamblea General de las Naciones Unidas

Los abajo firmantes expresamos nuestro sólido apoyo al Grupo de Trabajo de Expertos en Personas de Descendencia Africana de la ONU. English, Français

Disenfranchised citizens, unfree labour: The social and political exclusion of India’s internal circular migrants

Too often excluded from political representation and social protection, Indian ‘circular migrants’ need a better deal, argues Indrajit Roy.

Public Statement in Support of the UN Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent

In the face of rising racism, scholars, activists and civil society organisations express their support for the UN Working Group on People of African Descent, and call on the UN to heed the call for reparatory justice. Français, Español

Au Conseil des Droits de l'Homme, au Haut-Commissaire aux Droits de l'Homme et à l'Assemblée Générale des Nations Unies

Face au racisme mondial, un group d'experts et d'activistes expriment leur soutien au Group de travail des esperts Nations Unies sur la situation des personnes d'ascendance africaine. English, Español

Exploring the coordinated activism behind the Modern Slavery Act

Civil society organisations campaigned intensely to shape the UK’s modern slavery bill as it went through parliament. The Anti-Trafficking Monitoring Group’s coordinator explains all that went on behind the scenes.

The path to the UK's Modern Slavery Act 2015: an oral history project

The UK’s Modern Slavery Act, 2015 was hotly debated by policy-shapers during the drafting process. We take a behind-the-scenes look at one of last year’s most contentious bills.

Looking back: the fight to protect domestic workers with the Modern Slavery Act

The Modern Slavery Act represented a chance to restore rights to overseas domestic workers in the UK, but due to strong government opposition those rights remain denied. Why?

The problem with the British government's approach to exploitation

The NGO Focus on Labour Exploitation (FLEX) engaged strongly with the British parliament during the drafting of the Modern Slavery Act 2015, but found the government resistant to many of its ideas.

Shaping the Modern Slavery Act: a look back

Companies may be more willing to tackle exploitation in supply chains than we think, but they need government regulation to ensure they don’t lose their competitive advantage by doing so.

The thorny ramifications of the Modern Slavery Act

States resort to criminal law when they either can’t or won’t tackle root causes. The Modern Slavery Act is just another example of applying the stick to ‘solve’ a fundamentally socio-economic issue.

How did we get the Modern Slavery Act?

The Modern Slavery Act was supposed to make Britain a global leader in the fight against slavery, but where did it come from and does it do what its proponents claim?

Legislation is essential to end forced labour

Major corporations have demonstrated that they won't always do the right thing voluntarily. “Why would we assume they will?”, asks Hugh Helferty of Queen's School of Business.

Using a ‘dirty list’ to clean up ‘modern slavery’ in Brazil

Brazil forced companies to clean up their act through binding legislation and a ‘dirty list’. “Why can’t this happen globally?”, asks Brazilian activist Leonardo Sakamoto.

No either/or between business and government, both need to do better

Eradicating forced labour and modern slavery from global supply chains requires both business and government effort, argues Lara White of the International Organisation for Migration.

An international convention on decent work won't be a silver bullet

POLICY DEBATE: Binding legislation against labour abuse in supply chains can't hurt, but we already have plenty of weapons in the fight for decent work, argues Anna de Courcy of the Freedom Fund.

More legislation won't end ‘modern slavery’: only enforcement will

POLICY DEBATE: We have legal frameworks aplenty to prevent forced labour in supply chains, what we’re missing is enforcement, argues former Coca-Cola Executive Ed Potter.

All of the above and a lot more in protecting the world’s workers

Good legislation is essential, but effective enforcement and corporate investment can be just as important, argues Houtan Homayounpour from the International Labour Organisation.

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