Skip to content

CAFOD's annual statement in relation to the Modern Slavery Act.

About CAFOD and our corporate structure

The Catholic Agency for Overseas Development (CAFOD) is an international development charity and the official aid agency of the Catholic Church in England and Wales. We are part of the global Caritas confederation.

Inspired by Gospel values and as part of the Catholic community, we come together in partnership with others, locally and globally, of all faiths and none:

  • To reach those in greatest need, save lives and relieve suffering.

  • To support and enable people, communities and our local partners to be artisans of their own destiny.

  • To challenge and transform the structures and behaviours that drive poverty, vulnerability, inequality, injustice and exclusion, and which harm the natural world.

  • To educate, enable and inspire the Catholic community of England and Wales to act in solidarity for the common good.

We are headquartered in the UK and operate through partners across Africa, Asia and the Middle East, Latin America and Caribbean, and Eastern Europe, with presence in 14 countries. A description of CAFOD’s corporate group structure is included in our annual accounts.

Further detail on CAFOD’s group structure and supply chains will be included in future statements.

Our approach to tackling modern slavery

Drawing from Catholic Social Teaching, we believe that each and every person is made in the image and likeness of God, imbued with an innate dignity. Modern slavery is an attack upon this dignity. In solidarity, we are called to work with hope and compassion to transform our common home, to ensure that people, communities and the earth may flourish - free from exploitation.

CAFOD takes an integrated approach to tackling modern slavery, encompassing the following:

Working towards an end to poverty and injustice

Our work on tackling slavery sits within a broader mandate of working to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals – of which tackling modern slavery is a part (goal 8.7). Tackling modern slavery is consistent with Catholic teaching that we must reach out to the margins of society to combat injustice and oppression.

Modern slavery is at the end of a spectrum of violations of human rights and labour rights, and the poor and vulnerable are often those most at risk of falling victim of exploitation. In working towards the common good we are called to ensure that every human being has access to essential rights and can fulfil their own potential, thereby reducing these risks.

Campaigning for changes to law and policy

CAFOD believes that we cannot allow our brothers and sisters to be enslaved in the production of goods or services for our consumption. We campaign to change the economic systems and structures that allow modern slavery and human trafficking, as well as other human rights and environmental harm, to take place.

CAFOD successfully lobbied for the Transparency in Supply Chains Provision TISC requirement in the Modern Slavery Act in order to incentivise corporate action on modern slavery in supply chains and helped to write guidance materials together with the Corporate Justice Coalition (of which we are a member) to help companies report effectively on their actions. We are also a member of the Ethical Trading Initiative.

In recent years CAFOD has joined with other organisations to call on the UK government to strengthen the Modern Slavery Act and to go beyond transparency measures, to protect the world’s poorest people and our planet from harm caused by British businesses operating overseas. We are calling for a Business, Human Rights and Environment Act and a UN Binding Treaty on Business and Human Rights, to help the UK fully realise its commitments to the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and the OECD Guidelines on Multinational Enterprises.

Tackling modern slavery in our own supply chains

CAFOD recognises that slavery and forced labour are embedded in many supply chains, and closely linked to the delivery of goods and services here in the UK as well as internationally. We want to prevent abuse in our own supply chains, just as we want to hold companies accountable for the impacts of their supply chains on people and planet.

We are working on tackling modern slavery, human rights abuse and environmental harm in our supply chains and other private sector engagements and partnerships, as part of our organisational approach to institutional integrity, in line with our existing commitments under the UN Global Compact. We are committed to enhancing our approach to tackling modern slavery.

Our continued commitment

In 2023-24 we have:

  • Further developed our supply chains, due diligence processes and procurement policies and procedures as part of a thorough ongoing review of our procurement strategy and practice. This process identified a significant risk in one already completed purchase, and our procurement team are now seeking ways to mitigate this in future.

  • Further developed the Supplier Code of Conduct and specific guidance on Modern Slavery in the Supply Chain. A specific Modern Slavery section was added to the procurement intranet site that includes all relevant internal guidance and other resources and training materials.

  • Implemented a software application to track administrative procurements incorporating a specific process requirement on Modern Slavery checks in line with our updated Procurement Policy. This policy considers the risks of modern slavery and human trafficking, as well as of wider human rights abuse and environmental impacts when making procurement decisions.

In future years we commit to:

  • Further develop our procurement processes and the mapping of partnership agreements that are relevant to addressing risks of modern slavery and human trafficking.

  • Continue the ongoing process of risk assessment of our supply chain in order to identify parts of CAFOD’s business and supply chains where there is a risk of modern slavery or other significant human rights or environmental harms.

  • Further strengthen our policies, partnership agreements and due diligence procedures to tackle risks of modern slavery and ensuring that any future statements include instances of where modern slavery has been identified, addressed and remediated.

  • Ensure that these policies and procedures are implemented effectively and communicated across the organisation with appropriate staff training that includes recognising and acting on the risks of modern slavery and human trafficking.

  • Monitor and track the effectiveness of these policies and procedures to understand what difference they are making and how they could be improved on an ongoing basis.

Review and approval

This statement has been approved by the CAFOD Member Trustees on 5 June 2024 and the CAFOD Executive Group and is authorised to be signed on their behalf by Christine Allen, CAFOD's Director.

Christine Allen
Director of CAFOD