Alliance 8.7

Countries in Asia and the Pacific drive action to end child labour, forced labour and human trafficking

Asia-Pacific countries committed to accelerate action and strengthen collaboration to ensure that all women, men, girls and boys are free from child labour, forced labour and human trafficking.

News | 22 November 2019
KATHAMANDU, NEPAL (ILO news) - Governments, employers’ and workers’ organizations, regional institutions, international organizations, NGOs and youth from 15 countries in Asia and the Pacific convened at the Regional Conference on Reaching SDG Target 8.7 to shape action to end forced labour, human trafficking and child labour.

Welcome remarks by Hon. Minister Gokarna Bista, Ministry of Labour Employment and Social Security, Government of Nepal. See more photos from the event
The Conference, which was organized by the International Labour Organization (ILO), under the umbrella of Alliance 8.7, gathered over 130 participants. in Kathmandu, Nepal.

In his opening remarks, Hon. Minister Gokarna Bista, Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Security, Government of Nepal, said: “As an Alliance 8.7 pathfinder country, we are committed to form partnerships to end child labour and forced labour.”

Ms Dagmar Walter, Director, ILO Decent Work Team for South Asia and Country Office for India recalled: “We need accelerated action, innovative solutions, collective effort, and most of all, renewed commitment to address these challenges effectively [...] For this, the Alliance 8.7 has served as the platform, aptly demonstrating its ability to convene a diverse range of actors and mobilize them towards a common goal while making optimal use of their diversity and strengths.”

Bryce Hutchesson, Australian Ambassador for People Smuggling and Human Trafficking called for more countries to become Alliance 8.7 pathfinders, with demonstrated commitment to implement strategies to address child labour, forced labour and human trafficking.

“More needs to be done to safeguard children,” said H.E. Sayed Anwar Sadat, Minister of Labour and Social Affairs of Afghanistan in his address to the conference.

Laxman Basnet, General-Secretary, South Asia Regional Trade Union Council stressed that, to achieve social justice, we need to work together to end child labour and forced labour, while Moshsin Ashraf Tabani, Board member of the Employers’ Federation of Pakistan spotlighted business initiatives to tackle child labour, together with all concerned partners. Dr. Rinchen Chophel, Director-General of the South Asia Regional Initiative to End Violence Against Children, spoke about innovative approaches in the leather and brick kiln industries contributing to Alliance 8.7.

Following the high-level panels on innovative action to reach SDG Target 8.7 and on the role and ratification of international standards, participants shared experiences and lessons learned on areas ranging from national action, laws and policies, setting targets and monitoring progress for SDG 8.7 to supply chain action and migration, trafficking and fair recruitment.

The powerful stories shared by youth advocates who were formerly in child labour or forced labour reminded the participants of the urgency to act until all child and human rights are respected. Amar Lal, who worked in stone quarries as a child and is now a youth advocate and lawyer, said: “Before I could even say my name, I was handed a hammer to break stone. My hammer was replaced with a pen and I could rewrite my destiny. Now I am a lawyer and I fight for children.”

The discussions emphasized the need to focus on national coordination and effective implementation. R.P.A. Wimalaweera, Commissioner General for Labour, Government of Sri Lanka, said: “We can bring thousands of laws, but if we don’t have strategies to implement them and think out of the box, we won’t achieve Target 8.7.”

Participants also highlighted the need to ensure all human and labour rights are respected: “We need to call for the ratification of all fundamental instruments, including Conventions Nos. 87 and 98 on freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining” said Jotika Gounder, Fiji Trade Union Congress.

The importance of raising awareness and addressing social norms was also underlined: “We need to address the deep seated social norms that perpetuate child labour” said Kendra Gregson, Regional Child Protection Advisor, UNICEF.

The Conference ended with participants identifying priority actions for 2021, the International Year on the Elimination of Child Labour, and ways forward to realise SDG Target 8.7.

The Government of Malaysia expressed its commitment to be an Alliance 8.7 pathfinder country and to ratify the ILO Forced Labour Protocol, as mentioned in previous engagements with the ILO.

While sharing concerns regarding the challenges faced, the participants at the Asia Regional Conference agreed that it was critical to work together. "A future of work free of child labour, forced labour and human trafficking is possible, but scaling up and accelerating action, together with innovative solutions to reach the hardest to reach is essential." says Bharathi Pflug, senior specialist on fundamental principles and rights at work.

For more information, please contact:
Jane Colombini, ILO advocacy and communication officer -