​United Nations Voluntary Trust Fund on Contemporary Forms of Slavery - What the Fund does

What the fund does
Picture of local children of a community victim of inter-generational
prostitution © Bernard Henin, APNE AAP Organization, India

In accordance with General Assembly resolution 46/122, grants from the Fund shall be given to extend, through established channels of assistance, humanitarian, legal and financial aid to individuals whose human rights have been severely violated as a result of contemporary forms of slavery.

The Board of Trustees has developed the following practices and guidelines:

  • Contemporary forms of slavery, which qualify for project grants, relate to practices such as traditional slavery (also known as chattel slavery), serfdom, forced labour, debt bondage, the worst forms of child labour including children in armed conflict, forced and early marriage, sale of wives, widow inheritance, trafficking in persons, sexual slavery, sale of children.  
  • Projects that address other violations of human rights, which exhibit the primary characteristics of ownership, control, and violent coercion and for which there is a developing international standard may also qualify for project grants, but will ordinarily receive a lower priority.
  • As a rule, only applications by non-governmental organizations are admissible.
  • Priority in allocating grants is given to projects providing direct medical, psychological, social, legal, humanitarian, educational or other forms of assistance, to victims of contemporary forms of slavery.
  • Beneficiaries of projects must be victims of contemporary forms of slavery or their family members.
  • Organizations submitting applications are encouraged to integrate capacity building activities as one of the components in their applications, which could include human rights and project management training.
  • An organization can request a maximum amount of 30,000 United States dollars per grant from the Fund unless the Board in exceptional circumstances grants an exception from the said ceiling. As a general rule, projects cannot be totally dependent on the Fund. The amount requested from the Fund should generally not exceed two thirds of the submitted budget of the project.
  • In order to be admissible, budgets should be based on realistic local costs and salaries. Budgeted items of expenditure for which the Fund’s participation is requested should focus on providing direct assistance to victims of contemporary forms of slavery. Administrative costs should generally not exceed 13 % of the total budget.
  • The Board will not consider a request for funding from an organization that has overdue financial and narrative reports in relation to previous grants awarded by the Fund.
  • Applications have to be submitted in English, French or Spanish. Applicants should provide answers to all the elements on the Fund’s Application Form and follow the guidelines of the Fund.
  • Grants requested from the Fund can cover a period of up to 12 months.
  • A new grant for the continuation of a project may be requested each year consecutively for a maximum of five years, provided that the narrative, financial and audit reports on the use of previous grants have been declared satisfactory by the Board and provided that funding will be available the following year. After a time lapse of one year, the same organization may re-apply to the Fund

Types of assistance

Setting slaves free is only the first step on a long journey towards their full and integral rehabilitation. Rebuilding the lives of victims means empowering them, helping them to find their own abilities and strengths and foster resilience before they can start a new life. The process of assisting victims to live in freedom includes: providing a protective environment; assisting victims to overcome the psychological trauma they have experienced; providing various services (e.g. housing, healthcare) to reduce the sense of marginalization and stigma that many victims experience; providing legal representation to victims; providing and/or facilitating access to education, vocational training and sustainable sources of income (e.g. financial assistance and employment opportunities), thus giving them the tools to avoid re-victimization.

With the support of the Fund, organizations have developed groundbreaking projects to assist child soldiers and victims of sexual slavery in armed conflicts, they provided legal assistance to victims of bonded and forced labor rescued from ranches, health care, food and education to children working in quarries and carpet industries, offered emergency shelters, free hotlines, primary health care and legal assistance to victims of forced marriages, domestic servitude and trafficking.

© La Colombe

Psycho-social assistance is provided to enable victims to overcome the psychological trauma they have experienced. Individual therapy assists victims with their gradual reintegration into society. Social assistance complements the psycho-social assistance and ensures that victims have access to basic services, including housing, health care, education, language classes and employment training.

© Insan Dost Association

Medical assistance treats the physical post-traumatic effects that victims experienced. Following diagnosis by a medical professional, conventional treatment is provided as well as traditional healing and complementary medicine.

© Advocates for Human Rights

Educational assistance and vocational training enable victims and their children to be reintegrated in society, offering them tools to avoid become victims again. Educational assistance is offered in different forms. Non-formal education serves the purpose of bridging the educational gap of those who have been prevented from attending school as a cause and consequence of slavery. Formal education is provided by means of enrolling children in State’s run schools, paying for school fees, as well as providing uniforms, meals and stationery. Vocational training enhances the chances of victims being reintegrated into employment schemes.

© Centro de defensa de la vida y de los Derechos Humanos - Carmen Bascarán de Açailandia

Legal assistance may be provided in a number of ways including covering the costs of lawyers, courts, translations and legal proceedings. The Fund also contributes to combating impunity where grants are used to seek reparation and compensation for victims before competent national, regional and international bodies.

© Development of the Under-privileged through Integrated Economical Services (DUTIES) Financial assistance enables victims to meet their basic needs and to gain access to other types of assistance, such as health care, for example. In some cases, nominal assistance is distributed to unemployed victims of contemporary forms of slavery, particularly when they are unable to work as a result of severe physical and psychological traumas they have endured.
© Uganda Youth Development Link (UYDEL) Capacity building of grantees aims at strengthening the capacity of organizations receiving grants, by organizing skills-based training sessions, such as human rights education and project management training.

For examples of projects funded, click here.

^Back to top


In accordance with the mandate of the Fund established by the General Assembly in resolution 46/122, the beneficiaries of assistance from the Fund shall be individuals whose human rights have been severely violated as a result of contemporary forms of slavery. Project admissibility criteria are outlined in the Fund’s guidelines.

In the modern context, the circumstances of the enslaved person are crucial to identifying what practices constitute slavery. Elements of control and ownership, often accompanied by the threat of violence, are central to identifying the existence of slavery.  The migrant worker whose passport has been confiscated by his or her employer, the child sold into prostitution, or the “comfort woman” forced into sexual slavery   all have the element of choice and control of their lives taken from them and passed to a third party, either an individual or a State.

A stream of evidence presented to the United Nations human rights bodies give an accurate picture of current slavery-like practices notably in the reports of the former Working Group on Contemporary Forms of Slavery, as well as studies and findings of Special Rapporteurs, namely the Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Slavery, its Causes and Consequences; the Special Rapporteur on Trafficking in Persons, especially in Women and Children; the Special Rapporteur on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography; the Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and related intolerance; the Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, its causes and consequences; the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Children in Armed Conflict ; the Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants; worldwide annual applications to the United nations Voluntary Fund on Contemporary Forms of Slavery, as well as non-governmental organisations.

For international standards to eliminate slavery and its contemporary forms click here.

^Back to top

The Fund in 2021

During the 25th Session In November 2020, the Board of Trustees has awarded 37 annual grants. In 2021, the Slavery Fund will assist over 17,000 slavery survivors through 37 annual grants in 30 counties for an amount of USD 729,650.

^Back to top

Monitoring and administration of the Fund

The Secretariat of the UN Slavery Fund has developed a sophisticated monitoring and evaluation methodology to ensure the accountability on the use of grant, quite unique among other UN Trust Funds.

As a rule all new applicants are visited before the application is presented to the Board of Trustees of the Fund for its consideration. A mission report is then prepared, with details on the type of assistance to be provided, notes on the meetings with staff and victims and a description of existing internal financial procedures and management.

Organizations that have previously received a grant must submit a narrative report at the end of the year which includes information on the number of victims receiving assistance, as well as case studies of ten anonymous victims assisted. Information on victims should be broken down by sex, age, nationality, legal status and type of assistance provided.

Grantees are also required to provide financial reports on the use of the grants on a yearly basis. Finally, organizations must arrange for an audit to be conducted by independent auditors.

If the Secretariat receives information between annual sessions of the Board that a project has been mismanaged, the Guidelines of the Fund provide that the Secretariat may decide to withhold payment of a grant or request that a funded organization does not spend a received grant until the situation has been clarified.

In some instances, the Secretariat or the Board may request that an organization refund a grant if it was spent in a manner not approved by the Board, where follow-up reports have not been submitted or are unsatisfactory, or for other reasons explained by the Secretariat.

In 2016 the Secretariat of Fund, the Board and UN staff based in the field monitored funded projects, including visits to assess implementation of 23 projects in Ghana, the Philippines, Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, Russian Federation, Colombia, India, Brazil, Burundi, France, Haiti, Mauritania, Togo, Senegal, Kenya, and Ireland. 

Field visits are conducted by the staff of the Secretariat of the UN Slavery Trust Fund, Board members, OHCHR Field Presences staff and UN staff at large. A monitoring and evaluation manual, with details on how to conduct an evaluation, has been developed by the Secretariat and is shared with colleagues in the field.

Information on results of the visits can be shared, as appropriate, with other Institutional Donors to projects co-funded by the UNVTFCFS.

The Grant Cycle

​Information on the Slavery Fund
How to contribute to the Fund
Feature stories
How to apply/How to report to the Fund
Reporting on the activities of the Fund
Past slavery-related events
Useful links
Contact us