Tackling child labour: From commitment to action

This paper considers the progress that ILO member States are making in the application of ILO Conventions and Recommendations. It draws on two reports considered by the 2012 International Labour Conference: "Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work: From commitment to action" and "Giving globalization a human face".

In June 2012 the International Labour Conference will consider two important reports concerning progress in the application of the ILO’s Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work (FPRW). These include the elimination of child labour alongside the right to freedom of association and collective bargaining, elimination of forced labour, and the elimination of discrimination in employment or occupation. These fundamental principles and rights at work are mutually interdependent. Violation of one category of rights at work often has an adverse impact on the respect and realization of the others. Viceversa, recognition, promotion and implementation of one category of rights can have a beneficial impact on the respect and realization of the others.

The ILO's most recent estimate is that some 215 million children across the world are still trapped in child labour. This stark statistic points to a major human rights challenge and one which urgently requires renewed focus and action.

Over the years the international community has developed a framework of international standards which seek to protect children from child labour, in particular the two important ILO Conventions on the subject and more generally the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Whilst some progress is being made in reducing child labour in too many cases the rights contained in these international standards are still not fully applied in practice and enforced.

This Policy Note considers the progress of action against child labour with a focus on trends in the way that ILO member States are implementing the ILO Conventions and Recommendations.