Third Global Conference on Child Labour

ILO chief: World needs to turn plans to end child labour into urgent action

“More than ever our focus must be on action and results as well as process,” says Guy Ryder at the end of the Third Global Conference on Child Labour.

News | 10 October 2013
Former Brazilian President Lula (Left) and ILO Director-General Ryder (Right)
BRASILIA (ILO News) – ILO Director-General, Guy Ryder, called on delegates attending the Third Global Conference on Child Labour to turn the plans agreed at the conference into action that is widespread, systemic and sustainable.

“You made the link between the fight against child labour and the need to move forward on the Decent Work Agenda, implement fundamental principles and rights at work, prioritize employment creation, in particular for youth, extend measures of social protection and strengthen the rule of law and judicial systems. What we need now is to translate this link into urgent action,” said Ryder during the conference’s closing session.

The ILO chief said that clear lessons emerged from the plenary sessions that demonstrated a growing understanding of what needs to be done to eliminate child labour in a sustainable way, and that not only governments but also other actors – workers’ and employers’ organizations, businesses and civil society – are taking up their responsibility and showing increasing leadership (see the "Brasilia Declaration).

The ILO chief warned that as the number of child labourers go down, the job of combating child labour will get tougher because it will be about getting to those children who are difficult to reach – child soldiers, children being exploited sexually, children working on farm fields and other dangerous environments. In this regard, Ryder stressed that the work for the next conference – to be hosted by Argentina in 2017 – starts now. He also called on delegates to do all they can to bring the numbers of child workers down significantly by the time they meet again.

The first task if we are to step up the fight against child labour is to coordinate wealth redistribution policies around the world."
Luis Inácio Lula da Silva
Earlier in the day, the delegates heard from former President Luis Inácio Lula da Silva of Brazil. President Lula said that the international community has the duty to give child workers, especially those trapped in its worst forms, the hope of a better future. “We’ve just over two years to meet the 2016 Hague target and we need the political courage to adopt the required measures”, he said.

He recalled that he himself worked as a child worker to help support his numerous family, and that later as President he saw first-hand Haitian children chewing mud cakes to trick hunger. “The map of child labour across the world correlates with the map of hunger and poverty, and so the first task if we are to step up the fight against child labour in its worst forms is to coordinate wealth redistribution policies around the world”.

President Lula mentioned the amount that has been spent in rescuing the world’s financial system since the start of the financial crisis in 2008/9, as the well as the cost of the Iraq war, and remarked that the eradication of child labour is not a matter of a lack of resources but rather of “political will and of [leaders] being shamed into meeting this challenge.”

“The greatness of a country is measured by its ability to protect its children,” he concluded.