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Today more than 168 million children aged 5-17 in work—most in horrible conditions— around the world. This Sunday, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) will be raising awareness of child labor hidden in supply chains during World Day Against Child Labor. These children find themselves working in supply chains around the world in industries as diverse as agriculture, manufacturing, fashion, fishing, mining and construction. According to the third ILO Global Report on Child Labor, 80 percent of child laborers are unpaid family workers and very few are paid anything for the work they carry out. Find out how the UK Modern Slavery Act addresses the issue and what global organizations need to do to comply with the law.
While progress is being made to end child labor, it has slowed over the past 10 years. Global numbers fell by 11 percent from 2000 to 2004, but from 2004 to 2008 the decline fell to just three percent.
There are an estimated 114 million children in labor within the Asia and Pacific region, 14 million in Latin America and the Caribbean, 65 million in Sub-Saharan Africa and more than 22 million in other regions including the Middle East, North Africa and Eastern Europe.
The majority of child labor occurs in domestic market production; however globalization and the complexity of international supply chains mean that the production of goods and services for export is also a significant contributor. Child labor occurs predominantly in rural areas of countries with under developed labor laws. It is often based in small workshops, homes and other places undetectable by business decision-makers at the top of a global supply chain.
Businesses in the developed world have a responsibility to remain vigilant to ensure supply chains are free from child labor. By adopting enhanced due-diligence practices on their supply chains, they can identify the parts of its business that constitute a risk, as well as document the steps it has taken to assess and manage them. Monitoring needs to be ongoing, with built-in measures to ensure high standards are maintained in the long term.
The ILO is leading the charge against child labor, raising awareness during World Day Against Child Labor on June 12, 2016. The 2016 campaign focuses on child labor in supply chains and aims to raise awareness of the responsibilities held by governments, workers, employers and organizations under the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted at the UN Sustainable Development Summit in September 2015.
The ILO provides guidance for businesses on social policy and responsible and sustainable workplace practices in its Tripartite Declaration of Principles concerning Multinational Enterprises and Social Policy (the MNE Declaration). First adopted 40 years ago, it is the only global instrument of its kind to be implemented by governments and employers across the globe.
The MNE Declaration has been highlighted by the ILO for World Day Against Child Labor in the context of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The agenda includes a set of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) to end poverty, fight inequality and injustice, and tackle climate change by 2030. Goal number eight, which focuses on decent work and economic growth, includes a target to implement immediate measures to eradicate forced labor, modern slavery, human trafficking and by 2025 end child labor in all its forms.
To achieve targets under the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development the ILO is campaigning for businesses, trade unions and other organizations to take collective action and make better use of existing knowledge and resources. In its World Day Against Child Labor publication, the ILO calls for: “Enterprises to pursue responsible business practices that respect human and other labor rights in the countries and communities in which they operate.”
While you probably won’t be in the office on Sunday, in the days lead up to and following World Day Against Child Labor, consider sharing best practices with colleagues and other government, business and community leaders to move the initiative forward so that all supply chains are free from child labor.