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Global Trace Protocol

“Companies can’t address what they cannot see, which is why we want to make the unseen visible.” – Ian Spaulding, Chief Growth Officer, LRQA

From global brands and manufacturers to local suppliers, businesses are increasingly held accountable for exploitative labor conditions, particularly child and forced labor.  Traceability helps provide the transparency required for due diligence assurance, ESG (environmental, social and governance) performance reporting, and import documentation.


What is the Global Trace Protocol?

The Global Trace Protocol project, led by ELEVATE Limited (part of LRQA), is developing traceability tools and approaches to help monitor risks and ensure that supply chains are free of exploitative labor practices, starting with child and forced labor.  The project is supported by consortium partners Diginex, the Global Fund to End Modern Slavery (GFEMS), the Responsible Mineral Initiative (RMI), and RCS Global.


The Global Trace Protocol enables verification of socially responsible sourcing decisions

In recent years, social responsibility requirements have grown in importance and have increasingly been integrated with financial, environmental and energy management requirements into global standards and conformance criteria.  Governments are increasingly banning the importation of goods made by forced labor and requiring verified labor rights compliance as an integral part of due diligence.

As supply chains shift and grow, global companies are increasingly on the hook for supplier practices that threaten ESG compliance.  Sourcing countries and suppliers understand that improved compliance will improve their competitive edge; worker and employer organizations and other civil society actors can help ensure that effective compliance is achieved.

The Global Trace Protocol focuses on actionable tools that empower brands across industries–  from technology to apparel to automotives – to trace their full supply chain and improve visibility into child and forced labor risk, with a focus on these key outputs:

  • The Protocol: Due diligence resources, an open dialogue, and a standardized protocol, including definitions, tools, and best practices that can be tailored to different industries.
  • The Platform: An open-source supply chain tracing system that captures traceability and verification data to present a complete picture of the child and forced labor risk in a supply chain.


The Global Trace Protocol will be open, accessible, and replicable across different industries.

While the initial stages focus on cotton in Pakistan and cobalt in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the Global Trace Protocol aims to produce tools and resources that are open, accessible, scalable and replicable across sectors and geographies.

Report: The Pakistan Cotton Supply Chain

ELEVATE, with the support of Diginex, researched, analyzed and mapped Pakistan’s cotton supply chain to understand its traceability landscape and labor related risks, particularly for child and forced labor.

Report: The DRC Cobalt Supply Chain

RCS Global, with support from RMI and ELEVATE, led the research, analyses and mapping of the cobalt supply chain from its source in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to the international market.

Transparency in deeper supply chain levels is key to eliminating forced and child labor

Historically, most responsible sourcing programs focus on preventing and responding to forced labor exploitation risks in the most accessible and visible levels of their supply chain, known as their “Tier 1.” However, many risks of forced and child labor exist beyond Tier 1, where companies lack the tools and visibility to identify them. At these deeper levels, risk increases substantially. While strong efforts have been made, especially in the extractives industry, to create end-to-end traceability, these solutions remain small-scale and inapplicable to multiple industries. Global Trace is focused on creating end-to-end visibility.

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See also the Project Description.

GTP Insights

Funding for Global Trace is provided by the United States (U.S.) Department of Labor (DOL) under cooperative agreement number IL-35808-20-75-K. One hundred percent of the total costs of the project or program is financed with USG federal funds, for a total of $4 million dollars. Statements made herein do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the United States Department of Labor, nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by the United States Government.