Yesterday wrapped up the International Labour Organisation's 3rd Global Conference on Child Labour. The event took place in Brasilia from 8-10 October, 2013 and provided an opportunity to discuss the progress made in the process towards eliminating child labour, especially its worst forms.
We are waiting to hear what the game plan of all the governments, social partners, civil societies, regional and international organisations for accelerating the elimination of child labour by 2016. In the meantime, let's take a step back and recognise the pathway which led us up to Brasilia.
In 1973, the ILO passed the Minimum Age Convention (no. 138), requiring that people are at least 15, or a higher age determined by member states, or 14 for member states whose education systems are developing, before working, and 18 years old before dangerous work.
In 1998, the 86th International Labour Conference adopted the Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work. This declaration contains four fundamental policies:
- The right of workers to associate freely and bargain collectively;
- The end of forced and compulsory labour;
- The end of child labour; and
- The end of unfair discrimination among workers.
In 1999, the ILO passed the Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention (no. 182), placing the duty upon member states to identify and take steps to prohibit the worst forms of child labour (slavery, prostitution, drug trafficking and other dangerous jobs).
World Day against Child Labour
The day, which is observed on June 12th, was first launched in 2002 as a way to highlight the plight of these children. It is intended to serve as a catalyst for the growing worldwide movement against child labour, reflected in the huge number of ratifications of ILO Convention No. 182 on the worst forms of child labour and ILO Convention No. 138 on the minimum age for employment.
The World Day Against Child Labour provides and opportunity to gain further support of individual governments and that of the ILO social partners, civil society and others, including schools, youth and women's groups as well as the media, in the campaign against child labour.
This Report shows how the abolition of child labour has become a global cause for the new millennium. It explores the ever-changing manifestations of child labour throughout the world, and how girls and boys are affected differently, it presents new data on the scale of this stubborn problem, and it sheds new light on its complex, interlinked causes. It charts the growth of a global movement against child labour, reviewing the various types of action being taken by the ILO, its tripartite constituents (governments, employers’ and workers’ organizations) and other actors at international, national and local levels. The Report concludes with proposals for a three-pillar approach to strengthen the action of the ILO in this field, building upon the wealth of experience gained by the International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC) in the decade since its establishment.
Second Global Report "The end of child labour: Within reach" (2006)
This ILO Global Report on child labour highlights the progress made in combating child labour, steps the ILO has taken to act against child labour, and the global challenges faced when trying to eliminate child labour. The Report also set out a Global Action Plan to eliminate child labour for 2006-2010 (see below).
2010 Global Action Plan (2006)
The Action Plan set out time-bound targets for the elimination of child labour and gives IPEC’s strategic direction for its operations at the country, regional and global levels and outlines key actions to be taken to 2010.
Third Global Report "Accelerating Action Against Child Labour" (2010)
The focus of this Report on child labour is about honouring the commitments made in 2006 with the adoption of a Global Action Plan. The report shows that the pace of reduction in child labour has continued, but it has slowed down to a worrying extent. The report warns that unless decisive action is taken, the 2016 target will not be met. The report contrasts with the positive trends of the previous study done in 2006, which then led the ILO to set the goal of eliminating the worst forms of child labour by 2016.
The 2nd Global Conference on Child Labour, the Hague (2010)
"Towards a world without child labour - Mapping the road to 2016"
The year 2010 is 10 years after the coming into force of ILO Convention 182 on the Worst Forms of Child Labour (WFCL), the most widely-ratified international labour convention, and it is 6 years ahead of the global target of eliminating the WFCL.
The conference objectives were:
- to achieve rapidly universal ratification of ILO Conventions Nos. 138 and 182
- to deliver the commitment to take immediate and effective measures to end the worst forms of child labour as a matter of urgency; and
- to agree on significantly intensified efforts to reach the 2016 goal laid down in the Global Action Plan.
Roadmap for action to eliminate the Worst Forms of Child labour by 2016 (2010)
At the Hague Global Child Labour Conference on 10-11 May 2010, more than 450 delegates from 80 countries agreed on a Roadmap aimed at “substantially increasing” global efforts to eliminate the worst forms of child labour by 2016. The Roadmap calls on governments, social partners and civil society organizations to strengthen access to education, social protection and decent work. The Roadmap specifically calls on governments to “assess the impact of relevant policies on the worst forms of child labour, taking into account gender and age, put in place preventive and time-bound measures and make adequate financial resources available to fight the worst forms of child labour, including through international cooperation”.
Policy Note "Tackling child labour: From commitment to action" (2010)
This Policy note has a particular focus on the progress being made by ILO member States in ratification and application of the ILO’s child labour Conventions. It also aims to shed light on how the right to be protected from child labour can benefit from the recognition and enforcement of other fundamental principles and rights at work and public policies which promote social justice.
Marking progress against child labour: Global estimates and trends 2000-2012 (2013)
This report follows the Global Report series on child labour under the follow up to the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work. Its focus is on the presentation of the new fourth round of child labour estimates for 2012 and to identify the trends from 2000 to 2012. The estimates are based on refined estimation techniques fully comparable with the ones for 2000, 2004 and 2008 rounds.
The new estimates presented in this Report indicate that 168 million children worldwide are in child labour, accounting for almost 11 percent of the child population as a whole. Children in hazardous work that directly endangers their health, safety and moral development make up more than half of all child labourers, numbering 85 million in absolute terms. The largest absolute number of child labourers is found in the Asia and the Pacific region but Sub-Saharan Africa continues to be the region with the highest incidence of child labour with more than one in five children in child labour.
There were almost 78 million fewer child labourers at the end of this period than at the beginning, a reduction of almost one-third. The fall in girls in child labour was particularly pronounced – there was a reduction of 40 percent in the number of girls in child labour as compared to 25 percent for boys. The total number of children in hazardous work, which comprises by far the largest share of those in the worst forms of child labour, declined by over half. Also progress was especially pronounced among younger children, with child labour for this group falling by over one-third between 2000 and 2012.
The 3rd Global Conference on Child Labour, Brasilia (2013)
At The Hague Global Chid Labour Conference (10-11 May 2010), the Government of Brazil announced that, in cooperation with the ILO, Brazil would host the III Global Child Labour Conference in 2013 to measure progress in implementing the The Hague Roadmap and towards the goal of 2016. The Conference is an opportunity for reflection and joint dialogue between government, social partners, civil society, regional and international organisations on the progress made in the process towards the elimination of child labour, especially its worst forms, as well as a space for presenting proposals of mechanisms to accelerate the elimination of this phenomenon.
- Melinda Deleuze