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5th Global Conference on the Elimination of Child Labour

Global Child Labour Conference agrees Durban Call to Action to end child labour

The ‘Durban Call to Action’ includes strong commitments on action against child labour while raising concerns that existing progress has slowed and is now threatened by the COVID-19 pandemic, armed conflict, as well as food, environmental and humanitarian crises.

Press release | 20 May 2022
© Adam Lai
DURBAN (ILO News) – Delegates attending the 5th Global Conference on the Elimination of Child Labour have agreed the Durban Call to Action, which outlines strong commitments to end child labour.

The concluding document emphasizes the need for urgent action, because “the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, armed conflicts, and food, humanitarian and environmental crises threaten to reverse years of progress against child labour”.

The Durban Call to Action includes commitments in six different areas:
  • Make decent work a reality for adults and youth above the minimum age for work by accelerating multi-stakeholder efforts to eliminate child labour, with priority given to the worst forms of child labour.
  • End child labour in agriculture.
  • Strengthen the prevention and elimination of child labour, including its worst forms, forced labour, modern slavery and trafficking in persons, and the protection of survivors through data-driven and survivor-informed policy and programmatic responses.
  • Realize children’s right to education and ensuring universal access to free, compulsory, quality, equitable and inclusive education and training.
  • Achieving universal access to social protection.
  • Increasing financing and international cooperation for the elimination of child labour and forced labour.
More than 1,000 delegates from governments, workers’ and employers’ organizations, UN agencies, civil society and regional organizations attended the conference in Durban, South Africa. They were joined by another 7,000 online participants.

The event was also attended by child delegates – for the first time in the history of these global child labour conferences – who made clear their expectations that decision-makers should step up their efforts and accelerate progress.

The Durban Call to Action comes as there are just three years left to achieve the goal of eliminating all child labour by 2025 and only eight years to eliminate forced labour by 2030, as outlined in Target 8.7 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

The Durban conference, held from 15-20 May, was the first of the global child labour conferences to be held in Africa. The six-day event included more than 40 thematic panels and side events, focusing on a wide variety of issues related to child labour.

The four previous global conferences were held in Buenos Aires (2017), Brasilia (2013), The Hague (2010), and Oslo (1997). The purpose of the meetings has been to assess progress, renew and strengthen commitments, mobilize resources, and establish a strategic direction for the global movement against child labour.