Obituary – Norbert Blüm

Statement | 30 April 2020
The ILO has lost a champion of its fight against child labour. Norbert Blüm, Germany’s former Minister of Labour and Social Affairs under Chancellor Helmut Kohl (from 1982 until 1998), died on Friday, April 23 2020. Former Minister Blüm was a democrat and human rights advocate by conviction. Throughout his long political career and well into his retirement, he fought for social justice and sought to protect the most vulnerable.

In 1990, world leaders came together at the UN Summit for Children after which the former Minister requested the ILO to reinvigorate its campaign against child labour and in support of this he mobilized a significant financial contribution from the German Government. His initiative laid the foundation for what later became one of the ILO’s flagships – the International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC). Over the years, IPEC played a critical role in reducing the number of children in child labour by almost 100 million and promoting ratification and implementation of ILO standards on child labour. Today, IPEC+ is operational in more than 60 countries and enjoys wide support from ILO constituents and partners. ILO Convention No 182 on the Worst Forms of Child Labour is close to universal ratification. With his death, the world has lost a powerful advocate in the fight against child labour and a man whose social consciousness gave children a voice and the prospect of a better life.