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  • Writer's pictureMelo Acuna

All ILO member states ratify Child Labour Convention

ILO Child Labour Convention ratified by all 187 member states

MANILA – A historical feat was achieved in ILO’s history as an International Labour Convention has been ratified by all member States.

In a statement from Geneva, it was learned Convention No. 182 on the Worst Forms of Child Labour received universal ratification, after the ratification by the Kingdom of Tonga.

Ambassador for the Kingdom of Tonga, Titilupe Fanetupiuvava’u Tuivakano, formally deposited the ratification instruments with ILO Director-General Guy Ryder yesterday, August 4,2020.

The Convention is most rapidly ratified Convention in the history of the Organization since its adoption 21 years ago by the International Labour Conference.

“Universal ratification of Convention 182 is an historic first that means that all children now have legal protection against the worst forms of child labour,” said ILO Director-General Guy Ryder. He said it reflects a global commitment that the worst forms of child labour, including slavery, sexual exploitation, the use of children in armed conflict or other illicit or hazardous work that compromises children’s health, morals or psychological well-being, have no place in society.

“Universal ratification of ILO Convention No. 182 on the worst forms of child labour is an historical moment,” said Roberto Suarez Santos, Secretary-General of the International Organization of Employers (IOE). Throughout the years, the IOE and its member organizations have supported the implementation of this Convention. Today, the business community is both aware of and acting on the need to do business with respect for children’s rights. This is even more urgent in the times of the COVID-19 pandemic. We cannot allow the fight against the worst form of child labour to backslide. Together we can work towards the end of child labor in all forms, Mr. Santos explained.

In the ILO statement, it said the universal ratification is a further step towards making more concrete the aspirations of Kailash Satyarthi, Nobel Peace Prize laureate, when he said “I dream of a world full of safe children and safe childhoods; I dream of a world where every child enjoys the freedom to be a child.”

The ILO estimates that there are 152 million children in child labor, where 73 million of whom are in hazardous work. Seventy percent of all child labour takes place in agriculture and is mostly related to poverty and parents’ difficulties finding decent work.

The Convention calls for the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labour, including slavery, forced labor and trafficking as it prohibits the use of children in armed conflict, prostitution, pornography and illicit activities including drug trafficking and in hazardous work.

The Convention is part of the ILO’s eight Fundamental Conventions which cover the abolition of child labour, the elimination of forced labour, the abolition of work-related discrimination and the rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining. These principles are also covered by the ILO Declaration of Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work. (1998).

From ILO’s founding in 1919, child labour has been a core concern. The Organization’s first Director Albert Thomas said child labour as “the exploitation of childhood which constitutes the evil… most unbearable to the human heart. Serious work in social legislation begins always with the protection of children.”

It is the concentration of ILO’s largest development cooperation programmes, the International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour and Forced Labour (IPEC+), which was supported by over 100 countries in all continents.

The ILO statement disclosed the incident of child labour and its worst forms dropped by almost 40 percent between 2000 and 2016 as ratification rates of Convention No. 182 and Convention No. 138 (on minimum age to work) increased and countries adopted effective laws and policies.

But the program has slowed in recent years, particularly among the youngest age group (5-11 years) and in some countries.With the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a real risk that years of progress will be reversed, leading to a potential increase in child labor for the first time in 20 years, “unless appropriate actio

ILO Director-General Guy Ryder. (Photo from ILO website)

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