Social Responsibility and Sustainability

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University pledge to prevent slavery and human trafficking

The University of Edinburgh has highlighted its commitment to protecting and respecting human rights through its new Modern Slavery Statement. A zero tolerance approach to slavery and human trafficking in all its forms has been established, in the goods we purchase and the companies we work with.

Although the Atlantic slave trade was abolished in the United Kingdom around 200 years ago, modern slavery is still a significant global human rights issue, and includes human trafficking, forced and bonded labour, child labour, domestic servitude, and sex trafficking. Thousands of victims are thought to be affected in the UK, and millions worldwide.

Zero tolerance approach to Modern Slavery

We will also work to:

  • research and assess potential risks in our purchases, including through academic and student research projects;
  • continue to engage with suppliers about their actions to tackle modern slavery in their supply chains;
  • engage with staff and students to raise awareness of this global challenge.

This statement comes after the University adopted the first conflict minerals policy in UK higher education in order to work to prevent the purchase of products manufactured from materials mined to fund war. In 2004, the University of Edinburgh became the first Fairtrade University in Scotland, and in 2014 was a founding member of Electronics Watch – which works to monitor working conditions in electronics manufacturing.

Focus on specific types of product            

While the risks of modern slavery in our direct activities is likely to be low, we recognise that there are risks through the goods and services that we procure, linked to supply chains around the world.

We work with others, such as universities, procurement bodies such as APUC, civil society organisations, and government agencies to review the risks in areas such as construction services and supplies, electronics, food, travel and recycling services.

 Further reading

For more detail, you can read the entire statement. A research report on modern slavery and universities has been produced for the sector which includes further background detail.