Child labour

Lebanon pledges to end the worst forms of child labour by 2016

Lebanese President Michel Suleiman announces the launch of a national action plan to eliminate child labour in its worst forms within three years.

News | 07 November 2013
BEIRUT (ILO News) – Lebanon is stepping up efforts to combat child labour, joining global calls for the elimination of its worst forms by 2016, less than a month after the release of the Brasilia Declaration on Child Labour.

President Michel Suleiman presided over the launch of the National Action Plan to Eliminate the Worst Forms of Child Labour by 2016 at the presidential palace in Baabda on Thursday (November 7). The Plan was prepared by the National Steering Committee Against Child Labour, under the stewardship of Minister of Labour Salim Jreissati, and with support from the International Labour Organization.

“Today, we need to move towards a comprehensive national strategy for children that preserves their rights while ensuring their protection,” said President Michel Suleiman. “Complementarity and partnership between our national institutions and civil society is required to combat poverty and need – the direct causes of child labour.”

The worst forms of child labour involves the use of children in hazardous work, forced labour, trafficking, sexual exploitation, illicit activities and armed conflict.

The National Action Plan lays out a roadmap to end these practices in Lebanon by 2016, in line with international commitments and based on ILO’s Conventions on the Minimum Age for Admission to Employment, 1973 (No.138) and on the Worst Forms of Child Labour, 1999 (No.182), both of which were ratified by Lebanon, 2003 and 2001 respectively. It also reaffirms Lebanon’s commitment to the Hague Roadmap adopted at the Global Child Labour Conference in 2010.

“There are indications that in recent years, the scale and incidence of child labour and its worst forms have been on the rise in Lebanon due to deteriorating socio-economic conditions and the ongoing Syrian conflict which has displaced hundreds of thousands of children,” said Nada al-Nashif, ILO Regional Director for the Arab States. “With this National Action Plan in hand, Lebanon can develop a robust policy framework to protect its children from exploitation and to ensure that generations to come can enjoy a better life and the decent work they deserve.”

The Plan is the culmination of over a decade of collaboration between the Government of Lebanon and the ILO’s International Programme for the Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC) and builds on Lebanon’s 2005 National Strategy to Combat Child Labour.

In December 2012, the Council of Ministers issued Decree No. 8987 prohibiting the employment of children under the age of 18 in work that may harm their health, safety or morals.

“The Ministry of Labour has striven and still strives to give this issue the priority it deserves, based on the provisions of international labour conventions,” said Minister of Labour Salim Jreissati.

The strategic areas for action outlined in the National Action Plan include amendments to legislation, withdrawing children from the worst forms of child labour, free and compulsory education, returning children to school, providing economic opportunities for parents and youth of working age, capacity building across public and private sectors, taking preventative action, and developing the capacities of development service centres, local authorities and community leaders to take action.

The total cost of implementation is estimated at over US$23 million. Funding, in addition to government sources, will be sought from international donors and the private sector, to assist the Government of Lebanon in putting the Plan into action.

“This plan seeks to accomplish realistic and achievable goals provided that all concerned work together,” Minister Jreissati said.

According the ILO’s latest estimates, the number of child labourers globally has dropped by one-third to 168 million since 2010 but the improved rate of decline is not enough to achieve the goal of eliminating the worst forms of child labour by 2016.

There are 9.2 million child labourers in the Middle East and North Africa, trapped by factors such as poverty, widespread adult unemployment and the poor quality of education leading to early dropouts. Most working children in the region are employed in agriculture and around 57 per cent of child labourers are employed in hazardous work.

As part of its support to the National Steering Committee Against Child Labour and the Ministry of Labour’s Child Labour Unit, the ILO is currently undertaking a national child labour survey with the Central Administration for Statistics, alongside an assessment of the situation of working street children in various parts of Lebanon, both due for completion in 2014.
• Read more about the ILO’s efforts to combat child labour in the Arab States
• The IIIrd Global Conference on Child Labour was held in Brasilia from 8-10 October 2013
Marking progress against child labour: Global estimates and trends 2000-2012
• IPEC: What is child labour
• IPEC: Worst forms of child labour

For more information contact:
Farah Dakhlallah, Regional Communication Officer, +961 71505958