Forced Labour Convention, 1930


The Forced Labour Convention was adopted at the 14th International Law Commission session in Geneva, Switzerland hosted by the International Labour Organisation. It was adopted on June 28, 1930, and brought into force only on May 1, 1932. The Convention aims to effectively curb forced or compulsory labour in all its forms.

181 countries have ratified the Convention. Ratification is an 'international act' whereby a State indicates its consent to be bound to a treaty. India ratified the Convention in the year 1954. As per Article 22 of the Convention, it is required to submit yearly reports on the steps taken to suppress the prevalence of forced labour. 

This Forced Labour Convention has 33 Articles. Articles 1-3 provide the meaning and scope of the Convention, outlining what forced and compulsory labour shall and shall not include. Articles 4-9 focus on authorities that are involved with such labour. They highlight the administrative duties of officials and the extent of their power. Articles 10-21 detail the requirements in working conditions. It lists tasks that can be identified by competent authority as forced labour. Articles 22-33 mention the actions and mandates that every member state is required to undertake and fulfill.

The following are excerpts from seven of the 33 Articles, which highlight the different aspects of the Convention:

Article 2 

1. For the purposes of this Convention the term forced or compulsory labour shall mean 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. 

2. Nevertheless, for the purposes of this Convention, the term forced or compulsory labour shall not include–

(a) any work or service exacted in virtue of compulsory military service laws for work of a purely military character; 

(b) any work or service which forms part of the normal civic obligations of the citizens of a fully self-governing country; 

(c) any work or service exacted from any person as a consequence of a conviction in a court of law, provided that the said work or service is carried out under the supervision and control of a public authority and that the said person is not hired to or placed at the disposal of private individuals, companies or associations; 

(d) any work or service exacted in cases of emergency, that is to say, in the event of war or of a calamity or threatened calamity, such as fire, flood, famine, earthquake, violent epidemic or epizootic diseases, invasion by animal, insect or vegetable pests, and in general any circumstance that would endanger the existence or the well-being of the whole or part of the population; 

(e) minor communal services of a kind which, being performed by the members of the community in the direct interest of the said community, can therefore be considered as normal civic obligations incumbent upon the members of the community, provided that the members of the community or their direct representatives shall have the right to be consulted in regard to the need for such services.

Article 6

Officials of the administration, even when they have the duty of encouraging the populations under their charge to engage in some form of labour, shall not put constraint upon the said populations or upon any individual members thereof to work for private individuals, companies or associations.

Article 9

Except as otherwise provided for in Article 10 of this Convention, any authority competent to exact forced or compulsory labour shall, before deciding to have recourse to such labour, satisfy itself-- 

(a) that the work to be done or the service to be rendered is of important direct interest for the community called upon to do work or render the service; 

(b) that the work or service is of present or imminent necessity; 

(c) that it has been impossible to obtain voluntary labour for carrying out the work or rendering the service by the offer of rates of wages and conditions of labour not less favourable than those prevailing in the area concerned for similar work or service; and 

(d) that the work or service will not lay too heavy a burden upon the present population, having regard to the labour available and its capacity to undertake the work.

Article 13

1. The normal working hours of any person from whom forced or compulsory labour is exacted shall be the same as those prevailing in the case of voluntary labour, and the hours worked in excess of the normal working hours shall be remunerated at the rates prevailing in the case of overtime for voluntary labour.

2. A weekly day of rest shall be granted to all persons from whom forced or compulsory labour of any kind is exacted and this day shall coincide as far as possible with the day fixed by tradition or custom in the territories or regions concerned.

Article 15

1. Any laws or regulations relating to workmen's compensation for accidents or sickness arising out of the employment of the worker and any laws or regulations providing compensation for the dependants of deceased or incapacitated workers which are or shall be in force in the territory concerned shall be equally applicable to persons from whom forced or compulsory labour is exacted and to voluntary workers.

2. In any case it shall be an obligation on any authority employing any worker on forced or compulsory labour to ensure the subsistence of any such worker who, by accident or sickness arising out of his employment, is rendered wholly or partially incapable of providing for himself, and to take measures to ensure the maintenance of any persons actually dependent upon such a worker in the event of his incapacity or decease arising out of his employment.

Article 22

The annual reports that Members which ratify this Convention agree to make to the International Labour Office, pursuant to the provisions of Article 22 of the Constitution of the International Labour Organisation, on the measures they have taken to give effect to the provisions of this Convention, shall contain as full information as possible, in respect of each territory concerned, regarding the extent to which recourse has been had to forced or compulsory labour in that territory, the purposes for which it has been employed, the sickness and death rates, hours of work, methods of payment of wages and rates of wages, and any other relevant information.

Article 24

Adequate measures shall in all cases be taken to ensure that the regulations governing the employment of forced or compulsory labour are strictly applied, either by extending the duties of any existing labour inspectorate which has been established for the inspection of voluntary labour to cover the inspection of forced or compulsory labour or in some other appropriate manner. Measures shall also be taken to ensure that the regulations are brought to the knowledge of persons from whom such labour is exacted.

Focus by Akriti Kanodia.


United Nations


United Nations


28 Jun, 1930