U.S. and European Legal Responses to Chinese Forced Labour

Forced labour involving Chinese workers is a global problem that takes many forms ‒ such as labour camps in Xinjiang, construction workers on BRI projects, and individuals being brought into the U.S. through Mexico to work on illegal marijuana farms. What legal tools exist to fight these abusive practices? And how are those tools being used? The talk will discuss how the U.S. and Europe are using (or not using) trade sanctions as well as impact litigation to combat this problem. The speaker will draw upon his over 20 years of involvement with Chinese labour issues as a researcher and advocate, as well as his work as a lawyer representing Chinese forced labour victims in the construction, marijuana, and other industries.

Aaron Halegua is the founding member of Aaron Halegua, PLLC, a law firm in New York City, as well as a research associate at NYU Law School’s U.S.-Asia Law Institute and Oxford University’s China, Law and Development program. He has worked on global labour issues, with a particular focus on China and Chinese workers, for more than two decades. As a lawyer, he has received awards from the Human Trafficking Legal Center and Impact Fund for his work obtaining large judgments for Chinese construction workers trafficked to the United States and subjected to forced labour. He has also consulted for Apple, American Bar Association, Asia Foundation, Brown University, Ford Foundation, International Labor Rights Forum, International Labour Organization (ILO), PILNet, Solidarity Center, and SEIU on international labour issues. Mr. Halegua has led global research projects, published widely, and consulted with government officials, labour groups, companies, and other stakeholders regarding issues of Chinese forced labour. Mr. Halegua holds an AB from Brown University and a JD from Harvard Law School, and was a Fulbright Scholar at Peking University Law School.