Forced labor is one of the most important and at the same time intriguing "diseases" of the 21st century particularly because it should no longer be a subject for discussion considering that the 21st century should be one of technological advancements, of improvements in the living standards, as well as it the overall consideration of human life as being essential for the well-being of our future. Yet, there are constant cases of forced labor in regions such as Africa or Asia that have questioned the ability of the state and of the human being to protect another human being from abuses.
The current research focuses on the way in which forced labor is viewed from the point-of-view of the international law, as well as through the lens of a known case study of forced labor that determined not only reactions from the state, but also an increased in the awareness concerning forced labor and its implications.
The individual has the right to work in order to achieve its ideals and dreams. This right is often seen as one of the most important among the rights of the modern man particularly because through work, the dreams and desires of a man can be achieved. This is one of the main reasons for which this right was considered to be that important that it required international protection and consideration. The International Labor Organization is among the oldest international organizations that takes into consideration the participation of all states throughout the world. The need for such an organization was felt in the moment in which it was considered that the right of the individual to work must be by all means protected not only at the national level but also through international means.
The mission of the International Labor Organization, ILO, is "promoting social justice and internationally recognized human and labour rights, pursuing its founding mission that labour peace is essential to prosperity. Today, the ILO helps advance the creation of decent work and the economic and working conditions that give working people and business people a stake in lasting peace, prosperity and progress. Its tripartite structure provides a unique platform for promoting decent work for all women and men. Its main aims are to promote rights at work, encourage decent employment opportunities, enhance social protection and strengthen dialogue on work-related issues." (ILO, 2013) The role of the International Labor Organization is important and therefore stressed in the beginning of this research particularly because the organization represents the highest forum of the United Nations that deals with issues related to work rights, to equity and dignity at the workspace, among other things. This is why the ILO is seen as a leading authority in the area and its expertise is highly valued.
ILO has provided along the time numerous exemplifications of forced labor and related subjects. In this sense, the organization considers "Forced labour takes different forms, including debt bondage, trafficking and other forms of modern slavery. The victims are often the most vulnerable -- women and girls forced into prostitution, migrants trapped in debt bondage, and sweatshop or farm workers kept there by illegal means and paid little or nothing." (ILO, 2012) A more official definition of forced labor or compulsory labor dates back to 1930, in the Forced Labor Convention which points out that forced labor means "all work or service which is exacted from any person under the menace of any penalty and for which the said person has not offered himself voluntarily" (Forced Labor Convention, 1930). During the Second World War and even after its end, the labor camps were common practice especially for Germans during the war and for the Russians after the war. In Germany, these labor practices also coincided with torture camps and extermination camps which targeted certain segments of the population. In the Russian case, these labor camps were also called pogroms and included forced labor under terrible conditions for all those opposing the Communist regime which included intellectuals, parts of the previous political regime, people taken from the Freed territories in Eastern Europe and that needed to be "educated" in the spirit of the Communist rule (Calvocoressi, 1995).
These examples are some of the reasons for which forced labor was such a heated subject under consideration. At the same time though, even if there were conventions set in place at the time of these specific approaches, the regimes, both the Nazi and the Communist one did not take them into account and the breach of labor law was among the easiest criminal charges these two regimes would be responsible for. Thus, "The Nazis subjected millions of people (both Jews and other victim groups) to forced labor under brutal conditions. From the establishment of the first Nazi concentration camps and detention facilities in the winter of 1933, forced labor -- often pointless and humiliating, and imposed without proper equipment, clothing, nourishment, or rest -- formed a core part of the concentration camp regimen" (Holocaust Encyclopedia, 2013). Even so, it must be pointed out that throughout history there have been instances in which forced labor was in fact a means through which more atrocious facts took place.
In modern times, there are numerous types of forced labor. It must be pointed out from the very beginning that forced labor does not have as an aim the benefit of the worker, aspect which makes the process automatically negative for the worker.
As mentioned above, forced labor can take many forms and shapes. Also, it can happen in countries such as the ones on the African continent and Asia but also in some of the most important and developed countries of the world such as the United States. The shapes of forced labor include modern -- day slavery but at the same time prostitution. It can also mean extremely low wages or no wages at all. Further, it can affect only strong males, or women and children as well. Therefore, forced labor does not discriminate and is extremely versatile. Statistics from the International Labor Organization point out that "Almost 19 million victims (of forced labor) are exploited by private individuals or enterprises and over 2 million by the state or rebel groups" (ILO, 2013). In order to better understand the depth and complexity of the phenomenon, two examples are provided, both of forced labor but happening in different parts of the world and civilization.
The first example is related to the forced labor that took place in Sierra Leone, Angola, and other regions where diamonds were seen by the rebels in the civil wars to be the best means through which they would be able to procure the arms and ammunition necessary for continuing and eventually winning the wars. The strategy behind this rational is rather simple yet significant for pointing out similar issues if they are to happen again. In this sense, rebels in civil war countries that were dependent on the natural resources extracted from their soil, would kidnap pro-government common people and would force them to work along the rivers to find any piece of diamond or precious stone. These types of events have been made public in numerous film depictions as well as countless days of broadcasting and lobbying for the cause of those that were taken from their families and be put to work in similar conditions as the Auschwitz labor camps. To this day, the soldiers and commanders that applied the rules in the areas in which the rumors related to slavery and trafficking were being proven true, did nothing in this regard. There have been numerous attempts by the international community to try to stop or reduce these cases, but, in cases where civil wars take place, the situation remains the same. On the particular example presented, the blood diamonds in Sierra Leone triggered an embargo for diamonds coming from conflict areas and one reason among others was the fact that to gather such diamonds forced labor was used. Another reason was that the international community considered that the money coming from selling these diamonds were and are used to purchase arms that fuel the civil war in these countries (Sierra Leone, Angola is another such case).
The second example is more significant in the sense that it clearly points out the meaning of forced labor in modern times and applied to one of the most democratic societies in the world: the United States. Prostitution is taking place in developed countries throughout the world and has nothing to do with civil wars, poverty, or natural resources but rather to pure capitalism and supply -- demand chain. As per the statistics provided by ILO, "Of those exploited by individuals or enterprises, 4.5 million are victims of forced sexual exploitation" (ILO, 2013) However, the example takes into account not voluntary prostitution but rather forced prostitution to include kidnapped children and women.
The case in questions took place in the United States and has been deeply investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)…