World Day Against Child Labour

12 June 2023: Social Justice for All - End Child Labour!

The International Labour Organization (ILO) launched the first World Day Against Child Labour in 2002 as a way to highlight the plight of children engaged in child labour. Observed on June 12th, the day is intended to serve as a catalyst for the growing worldwide movement against child labour.
  1. ILO Director-General statement

    To bring social justice to all we must end child labour

The abolition of child labour is a cornerstone of the aspiration for social justice, through which every worker can claim freely and on the basis of equality of opportunity and treatment their fair share of the wealth that they have helped to generate.

Since 2000, for nearly two decades, the world had been making steady progress in reducing child labour. But over the past few years, conflicts, crises and the COVID-19 pandemic, have plunged more families into poverty – and forced millions more children into child labour. Economic growth has not been sufficient, nor inclusive enough, to relieve the pressure that too many families and communities feel and that makes them resort to child labour. Today, 160 million children are still engaged in child labour. That is almost one in ten children worldwide.

The situation in relation to child labour thus echoes the perceived lack of satisfactory responses to the multiple challenges and changes that affect the world of work. The growing gap between commitments and concrete achievements has fragilized action, resulting sometimes in disengagement. More than ever, it is urgent for all of us to contribute to bringing solutions to people’s daily problems, and to do so in a more efficient and coherent manner.

Child labour is – possibly – the most visible of these problems. It is caused by and perpetuates poverty and exclusion. It deprives children of education and opportunity and stacks the odds against their securing a decent income and stable employment as adults.  

It is an injustice that is felt in most cases at the level of households and families—two-thirds of child labour occurs as a contributing family member. But it holds back economic growth of entire countries and can be linked to rising inequality in many parts of the world. It is a threat to social cohesion and human progress.

Our joint experience in tackling child labour over the course of the last three decades has demonstrated that child labour can be eliminated, if the root causes are addressed. Measures to address these include the establishment and implementation of a strong legal framework based on International Labour Standards and social dialogue, provision of universal access to education of good quality and to social protection, as well as direct measures to alleviate poverty, inequality and economic insecurity, and promote decent work for adult workers.

Promoting concrete actions to address root causes and advancing social justice are at the heart of the Durban Call to Action, adopted at the 5th Global Conference for the Elimination of Child Labour in 2022.  It is a blueprint for turning the tide against child labour using every available economic, political and social lever. It seeks to ensure that child labour is prioritized in national and global policymaking and activities, in development cooperation and in financial, trade and investment agreements.

We therefore consider the 2023 World Day Against Child Labour to be a moment for all of us who are committed to ending child labour to demonstrate that change can be achieved when will and determination come together, and provide a momentum for efforts to be accelerated in a situation of great urgency.  

This World Day Against Child Labour, 12 June 2023, we are calling for:
  • Reinvigorated international action to achieve social justice, particularly under the envisaged Global Coalition for Social Justice, with child labour elimination as one of its important elements;
  • Universal ratification of ILO Convention No. 138 on Minimum Age, which, together with the universal ratification of ILO Convention No. 182 on Worst Forms of Child Labour achieved in 2020, would provide all children with legal protection against all forms of child labour; and the
  • Effective implementation of the Durban Call to Action.
Around 12 June, the World Day will be celebrated by many of our tripartite constituents throughout the world.

During the International Labour Conference, ILO will hold a high-level panel on 12 June, which will highlight examples of how ILO constituents have followed up on their commitments and how these are important steps towards increasing social justice.