Global Child Labour Conference Moves to End Child Labour

Oluchi Chibuzor

Delegates of the fifth global conference on the ‘Elimination of Child Labour’ have agreed with the Durban Call to Action, which outlines strong commitments to end child labour.

The ‘Durban Call to Action’ includes strong commitments on action against child labour, while raising concerns that existing progress has slowed and is now threatened by the COVID-19 pandemic, armed conflict, as well as food, environmental and humanitarian crises.

In a statement issued by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) yesterday, the Durban document emphasises the need for urgent action because “the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, armed conflicts, and food, humanitarian and environmental crises have threaten to reverse years of progress against child labour.”

The Durban Call to Action includes commitments in six different areas: ‘Make decent work a reality for adults and youths above the minimum age for work by accelerating multi-stakeholder efforts to eliminate child labour, with priority given to the worst forms of child labour.

Others are to end child labour in agriculture, strengthen the prevention and elimination of child labour, including its worst forms; forced labour, modern slavery and trafficking in persons, as well as the protection of survivors through data-driven and survivor-informed policy and programmatic responses.

They also included the realisation of children’s right to education and ensuring universal access to free, compulsory, quality, equitable and inclusive education and training; achieving universal access to social protection and increasing financing and international cooperation for the elimination of child labour and forced labour.

According to the statement more than 1,000 delegates from governments, workers and employers’ organisations, UN agencies, civil society and regional organisations attended the conference in Durban, South Africa and about 7,000 online participants.

The event was also attended by child delegates for the first time in the history of these global child labour conferences, who made it clear of their expectations that decision-makers should step up their efforts and accelerate progress.

The Durban Call to Action comes as there are just three years left to achieve the goal of eliminating all child labour by 2025, and only eight years to eliminate forced labour by 2030 as outlined in Target 8.7 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).

The Durban conference held from May 15 to 20 was the first of the global child labour conferences to be held in Africa. The six-day event included more than 40 thematic panels and side events focusing on a wide variety of issues related to child labour.

The four previous global conferences were held in Buenos Aires (2017), Brasilia (2013), The Hague (2010), and Oslo (1997), and the purpose of the meetings has been to assess progress, renew and strengthen commitments, mobilises resources, and establishes a strategic direction for the global movement against child labour.

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