DSN-UK patron receives OBE for his work to eradicate slavery

16th January 2018

Long-time supporter of the struggle for Dalit rights and campaigner against slavery, Dr Aidan McQuade, has been awarded an honorary British OBE order for services to the elimination of modern slavery. Aidan has devoted his life to the struggle to eradicate slavery and has been one of the most vocal and forward-thinking proponents of measures to address slavery across the globe.

Dr Aidan McQuade is a patron of the Dalit Solidarity Network – UK (DSN-UK) and through his many years as Director of Anti-Slavery International, has also been very involved in the work of the International Dalit Solidarity Network (IDSN). Dr McQuade has been an invaluable contributor to the campaign against caste-discrimination, as a source of expertise, advice and an active driver of advocacy.

“We are thrilled to learn that Aidan is being awarded an OBE for what is truly a major life’s work to move towards a world free of slavery,” said DSN-UK Director, Meena Varma. “His unwavering commitment to tackling the discrimination that underpins slavery, is invaluable to the struggle to end it.”

The direct link between caste discrimination and slavery

Dr Aidan McQuade has persistently and continuously raised the clear linkages between slavery and caste discrimination – referring to it in many articles and presentations as ‘caste apartheid’ – in relevant global fora and in the global media. He has made valuable contributions to addressing caste-based slavery and labour abuses over more than a decade. He has always made a point of the need to address the structural inequalities that underpin slavery and has fought tirelessly, not only for the elimination of slavery, but also against the discrimination and inequality that continue to facilitate its existence.

The caste-related issues that Dr McQuade has addressed over the years include Dalit children working in child labour, labour rights legislation in caste-affected countries, manual scavengers, caste-based prostitutions and pervasive caste-based slavery practiced across many industries including in garment factories, brick kilns, domestic service, agriculture and many other industries.

Putting slavery on the global agenda

In 2015 the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were drafted and Dr McQuade contributed to the campaign to ensure that direct attention was given to modern slavery in these goals. The campaign resulted in a specific target of goal 8 calling for immediate and effective measures to eradicate forced labour, end modern slavery and human trafficking and secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labour to be taken and, and by 2025 to end child labour in all its forms.

Dr McQuade has on many occasions spoken at the UN level and through global statements on the need to address caste-based slavery and caste-based discrimination, and has continuously called for greater regulation of international business to reduce slavery in global supply chains. He was also instrumental in advocating for a new international protocol on forced labour that is considered a milestone in the fight against slavery, as well as the passing the Modern Slavery Act in the UK.

Dr. McQuade recently stepped down from his role as Director of Anti-Slavery International, but will continue to be a patron of DSN-UK. He is already a much sought-after expert consultant on the issues. And most recently, he has completed his first novel – An Undiscovered Country.  

We wish Aidan all the luck in the world for his future life challenges and opportunities and thank him for the support and commitment he has shown over the past decade to ending the global ‘caste apartheid’.