Target 8.7 of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development requires that child labor be eliminated by 2015, yet according to the International Labour Organization (ILO), 152 million children around the world are in situations of child labor. Verité is currently working with Winrock and Lawyers without Borders to implement CLEAR II, a project to reduce the prevalence of child labor in eight countries. Lisa Cox is spearheading Verité’s role in this partnership, improving the capabilities of public inspectorates and private companies to identify and address child labor.
In November 2017, Cox participated in the IV Global Conference on the Sustained Eradication of Child Labor. Hosted by Argentina, this conference allowed governments, employers, trade unions, and civil society organizations to exchange best practices and lessons learned to accelerate the pace of elimination of child labor by 2025. While child labor has been declining since 2000, the pace of change has slowed significantly, and at the current pace, 121 million children will still be engaged in child labor in 2025. At the time of the first global conference in 1997, the ILO estimated that more than 250 million children were in child labor. The number dropped to 215 million in 2010, 168 million in 2013, and now stands at 152 million.
Approximately 3,800 participants from more than 100 countries, including 45 ministers of state, attended the conference. Over three days participants networked, strategized, and attended panel discussions on topics such as: “ensuring national legal frameworks meet international standards,” “making quality education is accessible to all,” “the importance of labor inspection and strategic partnerships in eliminating child labor from supply chains,” “reducing the vulnerability of children during crisis and conflict,” and “promoting decent work for youth in rural economies.” Each panel was tri-partite, comprised of individuals from government, business, and labor as well as civil society, to allow for an exchange of perspectives and debate. In addition to panel discussions, speeches were also given by Mauricio Macri, the President of Argentina; Guy Ryder, the Director-General of the ILO; and Kailash Satyarthi, the 2014 Nobel Prize winner for his work on child labor.
While the exchange of best practices and lessons learned was an important part of the conference, the main objective was to finalize and adopt the “Buenos Aires Declaration,” which spells out principles and actions to be taken to eliminate child labor by 2025. The Declaration includes four key policy pillars including: (1) Boosting legal protections, (2) Improving the governance of labor markets and family enterprises, (3) Strengthening social protection, and (4) Investing in free, quality education. Once the Buenos Aires Declaration is formally endorsed by the ILO governing body, it will become an official UN text and will be reflected in the ILO mandate, workplan, and budget so that resources can be made available to support its implementation.
Another goal of the conference was to invite participants to make public voluntary pledges to carry out actions in line with the Declaration. At the conference, 96 delegates publicly presented pledges for concrete steps towards the eradication of child labor and forced labor, and the generation of quality employment for young people. Those who made pledges will be invited to report on their implementation at the next conference, to be held in 2021. Pledges can be found here.
For more information, please contact Lisa Cox.