Project Solebay Conference – Discussing modern slavery in conflict

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slavery still exists SOLEBAY


Trilateral Research |

Date: 4 July 2019

“When we oppress others, we end up oppressing ourselves. All of our humanity is dependent upon recognising the humanity in others.” Desmond Tutu

On 14th May, Trilateral Research and St Mary’s University welcomed an array of stakeholders (MOD, business, government, law enforcement, charities and researchers involved in combatting human trafficking and modern slavery) to a conference on the University campus in Twickenham focusing on human trafficking and modern slavery in conflict and whether the military can play a role in combatting these crimes.

The Project Solebay: Assessing the risk of modern slavery in conflict conference was a culmination of the work done in Project Solebay, which involved the development of a risk assessment tool for the UK military to support them in responding to modern slavery and human trafficking. The project used an interdisciplinary co-design approach to develop the risk assessment tool. Trilateral Research worked directly with the UK military and other government organisations to understand how best to conceptualise risk in their operational context.

Attended by circa 80 people, the conference was a great opportunity to discuss how the use of technology and risk assessment can be leveraged in the area and to welcome guest speakers from the UK military, academia and civil society, including:

  • Sir Tom Phillips – Director of Centre for the Study of Modern Slavery, St. Mary’s University
  • Antonio Zappulla – CEO of the Thomson Reuters Foundation
  • Brigadier Daniel Reeve –  Ministry of Defence
  • Clare Gollop – Modern Slavery Police Transformation Unit
  • Neil Giles – Stop the Traffik
  • Eliza Galos – International Organisation for Migration
  • Anjali Mazumder – The Alan Turing Institute
  • Ursula Antwi-Boasiako – Department For International Development
  • Monica Hurtado Lozano – University of La Sabana
  • Dr Alicia Kidd – Wilberforce Institute
  • Elaine Mitchel-Hill – Marshalls plc

The research lead for Project Solebay, Dr Julia Muraszkiewicz, said: “Project Solebay was grounded in a co-design approach, we worked on this project for nine months together with the MOD and we thank them for their support. Together we were able to begin to understand how exploitation takes places in a conflict setting, and what possible responses could be involved. Amongst an array of solutions, a risk assessment emerges, as a tool that allows for the identification of the key vectors of human trafficking threats, vulnerabilities and risks, thereby supporting the planning and implementation of more targeted and evidence-based human trafficking reduction strategies.”

Summary of the day

The day started with the Director of Trilateral Research, Mr Kush Wadhwa, and the Director of the Centre for the Study of Modern Slavery at St. Mary’s University, Sir Tom Phillips, welcoming the attendees and introducing Project Solebay and the topic of the conference.

Two keynote speakers then advanced the discourse on human trafficking and modern slavery and its link to conflict providing their insights on how modern slavery and human trafficking manifests itself in these contexts, from the perspective of the industry and the UK military.

The Trilateral Research team then presented the main objectives and results of Project Solebay and their wider implications, focusing on the methodology and how the wider public, humanitarian and private sector can optimise data-driven risk assessments to support their efforts in combatting the trafficking of human beings.


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The second part of the conference was dedicated to a discussion panel and a guest presentations session.

The discussion panel explored “The role of data insights in tackling modern slavery and human trafficking” and was chaired by Dr Hayley Watson, from Trilateral Research. During this session, the panellists discussed the areas of development achievable by applying data analysis to modern slavery and human trafficking and considered the state of the art presenting their hands-on experience and the current use of data within this area.

The day concluded with insightful presentations that covered various topics ranging from modern slavery as seen from both the private and public sectors’ perspectives, to the recruitment and trafficking of child soldiers in Colombia, the drivers of human trafficking in conflict and post-conflict situations, and the existing and future challenges to private sector supply chain security.

For more information read more about the project or contact our team at


Project Solebay is one of a number of projects funded under the UK Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA) – Open Call.


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