World Day against Child Labour

12 June, 2015

Wilton Park reflects upon the international problem of Child Labour and efforts to combat it going forward.

In the modern world it is estimated by the UN that around 215 million children work every day with many on a full-time basis. This denies them the opportunity to be children; they lack the chance to play, to make mistakes, and to get a quality education. Due to the demand for labour, many of these children are ill-nourished, abused and often forced into prostitution.

Although trends in child labour are shifting in a positive direction, any child forced into the modern slave trade is one child too many. Overall, the UN reports that we are seeing net decline of up to 11% over four years in child labour, yet the sad reality is that among girls this trajectory remains steady. These studies assess the minimum age of work and the degree of hazardous activity involved, giving us a concise image of how bad the problem is and where the international community needs to improve. Therefore, we know that the agriculture and informal economy place the largest demands on child labour.

Over time, the international community has come to an understanding that child labour needs a multi-faceted approach; it is not a one-size-fits-all solution. Looking at the problem through the lens of demand and supply has shown us that the behaviour of employers as well as individual households is equally contributory in terms of child labour. The conception of child labour in terms of poverty is an important factor if not determining force; poverty remains a chronic curse for determining the future opportunities for any child, as studies from the World Bank have shown that the probability of remaining impoverished rises significantly later in life as result of being enslaved. The most vulnerable groups when it comes to child labour are those subject to discrimination and exclusion: girls, ethnic minorities and indigenous and tribal peoples, those of low class or caste, people with disabilities, displaced persons and those living in remote areas.

World Day against Child Labour 2015 calls for:

  • Free, compulsory and quality education for all children at least to the minimum age for admission to employment and action to reach those presently in child labour;
  •  New efforts to ensure that national policies on child labour and education are consistent and effective;
  • Policies that ensure access to quality education and investment in the teaching profession.

Today, Wilton Park recognises their plight and reflects upon the work we do which combats this gross reality. In recent years, we have held action led meetings on the Millennium Development Goals; Children and Armed Conflict; and Protection of Children in Conflict. Alongside this, we have promoted a focus on the rights of children in our other areas of expertise such as Prevention of Sexual Violence and Improving Global Nutrition. However, there is still a long road ahead; Wilton Park will continue to be dedicated to human rights worldwide and lead the way in dialogue led foreign policy.

Further information

Official UN page: Child Labour Day

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