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This impact story captures ILO's efforts towards creating a multi-stakeholder platform for achieving SDG Target 8.7

Feature | India | 02 June 2021
In 2019, the ILO organized The Asia Regional Conference on Reaching SDG Target 8.7 on Eradicating Forced Labour, Human Trafficking and Child Labour’ in Kathmandu. The conference was a part of the efforts led by Alliance 8.7, a global partnership formed to develop commitment towards SDG Target 8.7.

On the last day of the conference, participants from India at the regional workshop reaffirmed their commitment to advancing the objectives of the alliance upon return home. However, what followed was the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown in early 2020. This had put breaks on the cumulative advocacy efforts of the participation organizations towards India’s formal joining of the Alliance 8.7 

SDG Target 8.7 calls member states to ‘Take immediate and effective measures to eradicate forced labour, end modern slavery and human trafficking and secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labour, including recruitment and use of child soldiers, and by 2025 end child labour in all its forms’.

Even prior to the pandemic, the need for better coordination and linkages between the national mechanisms for monitoring and reporting on progress towards the SDGs and the national response toward child labour, forced labour and human trafficking was identified as a gap that had to be filled in order to accelerate India’s progress towards the SDGs. A study done by the ILO in this regard during the COVID-19 pandemic confirmed the urgent need to mobilize stakeholders and create synergy in action to prevent reversal of the country’s gains towards achieving SDG 8.7.

Thus, while continuing to comply with the due diligence and advocacy for the formal joining of the country within Alliance 8.7, the ILO continued to mobilize the organizations which participated at the Kathmandu conference.
Participants from India attended the Alliance 8.7 Regional Conference in Kathmandu @ILO

In September 2020 organizations: Global March, Kailash Satyarthi Children’s Foundation, All India Organization of Employers, International Justice Mission, UNICEF and the ILO came together to establish an interim platform for coordination and collaboration on SDG 8.7. The Terms of Reference were drafted and a work plan format was agreed upon to form the 'SDG 8.7 Platform' in India.

“The platform brought together diverse partners and the ILO constituents on the issues of child labour and forced labour. This was a steady first step,” said Divya Verma, Programme Officer at ILO India Country Office, who is hopeful of leveraging upon the vast experiences and knowledge the partners brought on board .

Further in December 2020, the Platform agreed to expand the network and within two months the membership grew from 6 to 12 organizations. Among the new members, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC); worker’s organizations - Self Employed Women's Association (SEWA) and Hind Mazdoor Sabha (HMS); INGOs - World Vision and Save the Children and local NGOs Child Rights and You joined the platform.

“Establishing a collaborative platform does not come without challenges. On the one hand, it takes time to build trust and understanding between organizations, while on the other hand it requires changes in one’s own organizational culture to be more open to collaborate with others. Therefore, it is important to invest time and effort in building that understanding between members, while also encouraging organizations to undertake these discussions internally,” explained Insaf Nizam, Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work Specialist, ILO DWT for South Asia.

Objectives of the SDG Target 8.7 Platform
  • Encourage Government of India, both at national and state levels to join Alliance 8.7 and acquire Pathfinder status.
  • Create a common platform for a diverse group of actors including but not limited to Government, Employers’ Organizations, Workers’ Organizations, UN Agencies, civil society organizations, Private sector led organizations and academic and research organizations to meet and collaborate on SDG Target 8.7 issues.
  • Endeavour to form links and promote synergies, learning and alignment across prevention and response to child labour, forced labour and human trafficking
  • Develop and strengthen the link between policy and programmatic response to SDG Target 8.7 issues, and the national mechanisms for monitoring SDG targets led by NITI Aayog
  • Encourage better coordination and collaboration between members, and other stakeholders working to address the four issues of SDG Target 8.7 issues
  • Support the generation and sharing of knowledge on SDG Target 8.7 issues

Each organization’s mandate and expertise are unique. Thus, in order to overcome the differences arising out of diverse approaches for achieving the desired target, members agreed to identify common areas of work, and through that, build complementarity in more complex activities.

The establishment of this platform is timely, as the UN General Assembly declared 2021 as the International Year for the Elimination of Child Labour.

As a mutual contribution towards the year, World Vision, Save the Children and ILO, three platform members have come together to develop a report on India’s journey towards eliminating child labour. The report will highlight the country’s measures to address child labour, ratifications of ILO Conventions, enactment and amendment of laws and policies, and also programmes and projects implemented.

In another joint effort, IJM and the ILO met the Tamil Nadu Legal Services Authority to develop a capacity building programme to prevent forced labour in supply chains in the southern Indian state. The three-way partnership, possibly also bringing in employers organizations, offers a new and complementary approach where each organization is encouraged to share their experience and expertise. The ILO contributes from a labour standards and elimination of forced labour perspective, while IJM contributes from a legal awareness and law enforcement perspective.

Narasimhan Gadiraju, National Project Coordinator of ILO’s Asia Regional Child Labour Project said, “The platform has been supportive in the development of cross functional linkages and partnerships for ground work. Their cumulative networks are valuable and have potential to generate impact at scale.”

On the occasion of World Day against Child Labour – 12 June, the platform had its first joint event – Act. Inspire. Scale Up: COVID 19 and its impact on child labour in India. The event witnessed presence from the Ministry of Labour and Employment and the Ministry of Panchayati Raj. The platform partners made a joint presentation of their work and also discussed ways forward to address the concerns arising from COVID-19 and possible escalation in the numbers of children engaged in work.

“I am extremely keen to continue engaging with the platform as it is gaining momentum,” said Niharika Chopra, Director-Policy, Kailash Satyarthi Children’s Foundation.

Desirably, the advocacy efforts of Target SDG 8.7 Platform members should lead to India becoming a member of Alliance 8.7 and stepping up its efforts through tangible achievements and measurable progress towards reaching of SDG Target 8.7.

The work contributes to India Decent Work Country
Programme 2018-22

PRIORITY 1: Promote, adopt and implement international labour standards for protection of workers from unacceptable forms of work.

Outcome 1.1: By 2022, all fundamental ILO Conventions and other selected International Labour Standards have been ratified and implemented

Outcome 1.2: By 2022, regulatory and policy frameworks developed or revised and implemented for protection of workers from unacceptable forms of work. .