THE HAGUE (ILO News) – Amid signs that global efforts to combat child labour are losing momentum, more than 450 delegates from 80 countries have gathered here today calling for a re-energized international campaign to eliminate the worst forms of child labour by 2016.
The two-day conference organized by the Government of The Netherlands in cooperation with the International Labour Organization (ILO) will discuss progress made since the adoption of ILO Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention (No. 182) in 1999 and consider a “roadmap” to ensure that the 2016 target is met.
In his opening address to the conference, Dutch Minister of Social Affairs and Employment Piet Hein Donner said: “I hope this conference will give us renewed energy to tackle the injustice of child labour. The economic crisis in which we the world has become entangled may certainly not be an argument for giving lower priority to tackling child labour.”
“It is urgently necessary not only for the conventions against child labour to be signed worldwide but also for vulnerable families to be protected and afforded access to healthcare and social welfare. It is also necessary for decent jobs that carry a reasonable income to be created for adults. Children must have access to education”, Mr. Donner added.
Speaking on behalf of the International Labour Organization, ILO Executive Director Kari Tapiola remarked: “The roadmap to be discussed during this conference provides the way forward towards both restoring belief in our 2016 goal and, most importantly, focusing on a set of measures for a balanced and beneficial development of our societies and of their future which, after all, lies in their children.”
The opening of the conference was also addressed by Mr. Nitte Manjappa Adyanthaya on the workers’ side and Mr. Dagoberto Lima Godoy on the employers’ side.
An ILO Global Report on child labour issued on the eve of the conference says that the global campaign to end child labour is at a critical juncture. It shows that child labour continues to decline, but only modestly – a three per cent reduction in the four year period covered by the new estimates (2004-2008).
The new trends point to a major shift in the global fight against child labour. The previous report (covering the period 2000-2004) showed a 10 per cent reduction and suggested that the end of child labour was within reach. These encouraging trends lead the ILO to set the target of 2016 for eliminating the worst forms of child labour.
“The unhappy bottom line is that some 215 million children across the world are still trapped in child labour, and 115 million of them are in the worst forms of child labour”, said Mr. Tapiola.
“As we look at the picture today, the progress is neither fast enough nor comprehensive enough to reach the 2016 goal. We have to squarely ask, what must be done to accelerate action against child labour”, Mr. Tapiola added.
The conference will analyze the latest child labour trends and figures presented in the report as well as effective measures to upscale and accelerate action towards the goal of 2016, in particular universal ratification and implementation of ILO Conventions on child labour.
Participants will also discuss an interagency report prepared by the ILO the World Bank and UNICEF, entitled “Joining forces against child labour”. The report analyzes country-specific situations and trends, as well as the types of policies that offer the greatest potential for combating child labour leading up to the 2016 target.
To arrange interviews with ILO participants at the meeting, please contact Mr. Thomas Netter on +41/79593-1366 or Mr. Martin Murphy on +41/79593-1376.