More than 450 delegates from 80 countries have agreed on a Roadmap aimed at “substantially increasing” global efforts to eliminate the worst forms of child labour by 2016. Approved at the end of a two-day conference on child labour organized by the Government of The Netherlands in cooperation with the International Labour Organization (ILO), the Roadmap calls on governments, social partners and civil society organizations to strengthen access to education, social protection and decent work.
“The Roadmap constitutes an important document to promote coherence and direction in national and international policies leading up to the 2016 target. But let’s not mistake ourselves: it does not mark the end of our concerted efforts, quite the contrary. We must keep on meeting and working together, if only to encourage, inspire and sustain one another again on the road ahead”, said Piet Hein Donner, Minister of Social Affairs and Employment of the government of The Netherlands.
“The experiences and ideas discussed during this conference have seriously improved our awareness, knowledge and commitment to child labour. They clearly show that if we stick to business as usual, the goal of eliminating the worst forms of child labour by 2016 will simply be missed. We now have a Roadmap that helps in finding the way forward and provides key input for future discussions at the ILO and elsewhere. It is up to all of us to follow it through”, said ILO Executive Director Kari Tapiola.
The Roadmap specifically calls on governments to “assess the impact of relevant policies on the worst forms of child labour, taking into account gender and age, put in place preventive and time-bound measures and make adequate financial resources available to fight the worst forms of child labour, including through international cooperation”.
It also calls on social partners to take “immediate and effective measures within their own competence to secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labour as a matter of urgency, including through policies and programmes that address child labour”.
The conference in The Hague took place against the backdrop of a slowdown in the results of the global campaign against child labour, as evidenced by a new ILO Global Report issued last week. The report – Accelerating Action Against Child Labour – shows that the pace of reduction in child labour has continued, but it has slowed down to a worrying extent. The report warns that unless decisive action is taken, the 2016 target will not be met.
The new report contrasts with the positive trends of the previous study done in 2006, which then led the ILO to set the goal of eliminating the worst forms of child labour by 2016.
The two-day conference heard interventions by high-level government officials from various countries as well as representatives from employers’ and workers’ organizations, international organizations and members of the academia and civil society.
Her Majesty Queen Beatrix of The Netherlands attended the closing session of the conference, where she met some of the high-level participants and a former child labourer.
Participants also had a chance to discuss and comment on a new interagency report prepared by the ILO, the World Bank and UNICEF, titled “Joining Forces on Child Labour”. The report presents country-specific situations and trends, and analyzes the types of policies that offer the greatest potential for combating child labour leading up to the 2016 target.