The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) has unanimously adopted a resolution declaring 2021 as the International Year for the Elimination of Child Labour. The UNGA has asked the International Labour Organization to take the lead in its implementation.
The resolution highlights the member States’ commitments “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.”
The UNGA acknowledged the importance of the ILO’s Minimum Age Convention, 1973 (No. 138) and the Convention on the Worst Forms of Child Labour, 1999 (No. 182) – which is close to universal ratification by the ILO’s 187 member States – as well as the Convention on the Rights of the Child. It also recognized the importance of “revitalized global partnerships to ensure the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including the implementation of the goals and targets related to the elimination of child labour.”
The ILO has been working for the abolition of child labour throughout its 100 year-history, and one of the first Conventions it adopted was on Minimum Age in Industry (No. 5, 1919). The organization is a partner in Alliance 8.7 and serves as the secretariat of this global partnership for eradicating forced labour, modern slavery, human trafficking and child labour around the world. Substantial progress has been achieved in recent years, largely because of intense advocacy and national mobilization backed by legislative and practical action. Between 2000 and 2016 alone, there was a 38 per cent decrease in child labour globally.
“The struggle against child labour has gained extraordinary momentum over the past two decades,” said Beate Andrees, Chief of the ILO’s Fundamentals Principles and Rights at Work Branch. “Yet, 152 million children across the world are still in child labour. We obviously need to scale up action further, and the decision by the General Assembly to declare 2021 the International Year for the Elimination of Child Labour will be a great help in focusing attention on the millions of girls and boys still toiling in the fields, in the mines and in factories.”
ILO estimates show that in 2016:
• 152 million children between the ages of 5 and 17 were in child labour, almost half them, 73 million, in hazardous child labour.
• Hazardous child labour was most prevalent among children aged 15 to 17. Nevertheless, up to a fourth of all hazardous child labour (19 million), was carried out by children under the age of 12.
• Almost half (48 per cent) of the victims of child labour were aged 5-11 years; 28 per cent were 12-14 years old; and 24 per cent were 15-17 years old. Child labour is concentrated primarily in agriculture (71 per cent) – this includes fishing, forestry, livestock herding and aquaculture – 17 per cent in services; and 12 per cent in the Industrial sector, including mining