Asia Pacific records decline in child labour - ILO Report

An ILO report suggests that more action and leadership is needed to meet the goal of eliminating worst forms of child labour within 10 years.

Press release | BANGKOK | 04 May 2006

BANGKOK(ILO News) – The number of economically active children in Asia and the Pacific has declined since 2000, according to a new International Labour Organization (ILO) report “The end of child labour: Within reach" issued here today.

However, Governments in the region need to redouble their efforts if they are to hit the global target of ending the worst forms of child labour by 2016.

The report, which looks at the global child labour picture, found that the number of working children in Asia Pacific has dropped by five million since 2000.  The most recent figures (2004) show 122.3 million children in Asia Pacific were economically active. This represents 18.8 per cent of the 650 million 5-14 year olds in the region.  It is a decrease from the 2000 figures of 127.3 million economically active children.

“Progress has been made in reducing child labour in the countries of Asia Pacific, particularly some of the worst forms. We believethat the target of eliminating the worst forms of child labour within 10 years is achievable, but we must redouble our efforts to do so;” said Ms Lin Lean Lim, Deputy Regional Director of the ILO’s Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific.

“We must not be complacent. As the most vibrant economic region in the world Asia must ask itself whether it is really doing enough to end child labour”.

Ms. Panudda Boonpala, Senior Child Labour Specialist in the ILO’s Sub Regional Office for East Asia , highlighted five recommendations for action to help Asia Pacific countries meet the 2016 target. These are that countries should increase their efforts to combat poverty and expand education; more money should be invested in combating child labour; national targets to end the worst forms of child labour need be set as soon as possible; special attention should be given to vulnerable groups such as minorities, migrants, and children affected by natural disasters or political crisis; and those countries which have not already done so should ratify and apply the ILO’s fundamental conventions.

“The Global Report highlights good examples of some countries in Asia which have tackled poverty, expanded basic education and made real progress in reducing the number of working children;” she said. “There are lessons here for others”.

“This is a leadership issue;” Ms. Boonpala added. “To be really effective national action against child labour needs to be supported by policy makers at the highest levels. Work to combat child labour work must also be integrated into and reinforced by policies to support education, youth employment, economic development and human rights”.

The Global Report makes a number of recommendations. These include a call for greater national efforts, involving organizations representing employers and workers as well as governments, and for the strengthening of the worldwide movement to make child labour history.

Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific,

Sophy Fisher: +66 22882482

Krisdaporn Singhaseni:  +66 2288 1664

* The end of child labour: Within reach, Global Report under the follow-up to the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, report to the International Labour Conference, 95th Session 2006