ILO calls for renewed fight vs child labor

Agence France-Presse
215 million children are still laboring to survive and more than half of these are exposed to the worst forms of child labor, including slavery and involvement in armed conflict
GENEVA, Switzerland – Countries should step up their fight against the worst forms of child labor, including sex trafficking and debt bondage, the International Labor Organization (ILO) said on Monday, June 11.

On the eve of the 10th annual World Day Against Child Labor, the ILO pointed to the “large gap” between the ratification of international conventions on the problem and meaningful action.

“There is no room for complacency when 215 million children are still laboring to survive and more than half of these are exposed to the worst forms of child labor, including slavery and involvement in armed conflict,” said ILO Director-General Juan Somavia.

The warning comes despite the fact that the UN agency’s two principal conventions on child labor are among the most widely ratified of all its agreements.

With more than 5 million children also caught up in sex trafficking and debt bondage, the ILO said in a new report that fundamental labor rights are still being ignored.

At a national level, the ILO says that relatively few child labor cases reach the courts and sanctions for violations are too weak to be effective deterrents against exploitation.

The answer is to strengthen national judicial and law enforcement institutions, along with victim protection programs, the agency says.

It insists that employment for parents and education for children are “indispensable” in eliminating child labor.

“We cannot allow the eradication of child labor to slip down the development agenda — all countries should be striving to achieve this target, individually and collectively,” Somavia said. – Agence France-Presse