EU, FAO and ILO unite to end child labour in agriculture

News | 12 June 2019
To mark World Day Against Child Labour, the European Commission, FAO and the ILO jointly organized a conference entitled “United to end child labour in agriculture”. ILO’s theme this year is “Children shouldn’t work in fields, but on dreams!”.

The ILO estimates that 152 million children are in child labour, 108 million of whom work in the agricultural sector. These children mainly work on small or family farms without pay.

Globally, 73 million children are in hazardous work. Africa is a region of particular concern, where the child labour trend is moving in the wrong direction.

Furthermore, progress among younger children, aged 5-11, is almost at a standstill.

Lieve Verboven, Director of the ILO-Brussels Office, described some of the progress that has been achieved in tackling child labour. There is almost universal consensus on the elimination of all forms of child labour, and there is political commitment to a minimum age. This was reconfirmed in the Buenos Aires Declaration of the IV Global Conference on child labour in 2017 to which the European Commission participated and brought a tremendous support. Most ILO member states and all EU Member States have put in place policies and laws to eradicate child labour.

“Twenty years since its adoption, ILO Fundamental Convention 182 on the Worst forms of child labour has become one of the widest supported instruments on human rights and we are close to universal ratification, with just one country remaining,” Ms Verboven added.

Since 2000, the number of children who are the victim of child labour has been reduced by more than 90 million, a decline of almost 40%.

“Overall we are moving in the right direction, but progress remains too slow. It is clear that we need to step up efforts, and accelerate and coordinate action,” said Beate Andrees, Chief of ILO's Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work Branch.

More than 200 partners have joined the Alliance 8.7, to move faster towards achieving SDG Target 8.7 and put an end to child labour by 2025.

Even if most countries already have good legislation on the matter, there is an urgent need to help labour inspectors reach the most remote areas, and create decent working conditions for adults, Badra Alawa, ILO project manager, explained.

Last year, the EU, ILO and FAO launched the Clear Cotton project, which aims to help eliminate child labour from the cotton, textile and garment value chains, focussing on Burkina Faso, Mali, Pakistan and Peru. In a video address, Neven Mimica, EU Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, praised the Clear Cotton project as a good example of how the EU, ILO and FAO are taking on child labour.