ILO and JICA Co-organize Online Study Session on Child Labour and Business

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) jointly organised an online study Session on Child Labour and Business on how to strengthen the collaboration in the area of child labour in order to accelerate actions for achieving Target 8.7 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

Press release | 03 June 2020
JICA intends to implement projects based on a human-centred and a human security-approach
Child labour can be difficult to see. As economies become more integrated, multinational enterprises may be linked to it in international supply chains directly – through their own facilities, suppliers or subcontractors – or simply by having operations in areas where child labour is common.

Facing this challenge, the international community set Target 8.7 under the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) aiming to eliminate all forms of child labour by 2025, as 152 million children are victims of child labour; almost half of them, 73 million, working in hazardous child labour.
“This was a very first step for JICA and ILO to strengthen its collaboration in the area of child labour in order to accelerate actions for achieving Target 8.7 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for the elimination of child labour by 2025,” Mr TAKASAKI Shinich, the Director of ILO Tokyo Office.

As this year’s World Day Against Child Labour commemoration approaches, with this year’s theme being: COVID-19: Protect Children from Child Labour, now more than ever!; panelists reflected on how best can be addressed the fast-evolving situation of COVID-19 pandemic that had caused disrupted education, family illness and potential loss of household income.

The absence of adequate social protection systems exacerbates the vulnerability of families – and hence of children, pushing millions of vulnerable children into child labour, having to contribute to family income at too young an age.

“In our Mid-term Plan, it is stated that JICA will implement projects based on a human-centred and a human security-approach with particular emphasis on the capacity development of vulnerable groups such as children, women, persons with disabilities, the elderly, refugees, internally displaced persons, minorities and indigenous peoples,” Mr. SAWADA Hiroyuki, Deputy Director General, and Group Director for Governance and Peacebuilding Department, JICA

Responding to the growing international interest on business and human rights, JICA had started to engage in the fight against child labour since 2019, with the establishment of the Platform for Sustainable Cocoa in Developing Countries to address development issues surrounding the cocoa industry, including child labour, through co-creation and collaboration of a wide range of stakeholders.

“The ILO highly appreciates JICA’s efforts in working on formulating a co-creative and collaborative project to address child labour issues in the cocoa sector in Ghana.” Mr. TAKASAKI said.

The webinar was attended by more than 140 participants in total from different organizations such as JICA, Japan Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the European Union delegation, businesses, civil society organizations and the ILO. Lawyers, researchers and former officials of the ILO also participated in the event.

Through a series of presentation, ILO experts provided an overview of child labour definition, highlighting the link between child labour and COVID-19 crisis on one hand, and businesses and child labour on the other hand.

Introducing the business guidance tool on child labour which has been translated into Japanese at the occasion of World Day against Child Labour, Senior Programme and Operation Officer at ILO Headquarters explained, “Businesses need to take action on child labour to avoid a negative impact on companies’ brand image. More and more investors also prefer investing in companies that follow a due diligence process including the respect for human rights in the development and running of businesses.”

“Today's webinar was an opportunity to deepen our understanding of child labour issues, promote responsible business conduct respecting human rights, and, by extension, provided a step forward in achieving the SDGs,” Mr. SAWADA said.
We expect that these collaborative efforts against child labour will also contribute to the implementation of the National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights, which the Japanese Government is currently working on the draft, he concluded.