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International Year for the Elimination of Child Labor 2021

December 31, 2021

Approximately 218 million children between the ages of 5 and 17 are employed in work.  However, 152 million of these children are victims of child labor, including 73 million that work in hazardous child labor.[1] In recognition of this global plight of child labor, the United Nations General Assembly adopted Resolution 73/327 declaring the year 2021 as the International Year for the Elimination of Child Labour.

What is Child Labor?

Although there are many circumstances where young people may work in compliance with all applicable laws, children are all too often exploited in child labor.  When children are exploited in child labor their health, safety, well-being, morals, and educational opportunities may be jeopardized.  Around the world, child labor takes place primarily in agriculture (71%), which includes livestock herding, forestry, fishing and aquaculture, and comprises both subsistence and commercial farming; services (17%); and the industrial sector, including mining (12%).”[2] Almost half of child labor occurs in Africa (72 million children), followed by Asia and the Pacific (62 million).[3]

In 1999, the General Conference of the UN International Labour Organization (ILO) adopted the Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention.  This was the first ILO Convention to receive universal ratification and defined the worst forms of child labor as “all forms of slavery or practices similar to slavery, such as the sale and trafficking of children, debt bondage and serfdom and forced or compulsory labour, including forced or compulsory recruitment of children for use in armed conflict; the use, procuring or offering of a child for prostitution, for the production of pornography or for pornographic performances; the use, procuring or offering of a child for illicit activities, in particular for the production and trafficking of drugs as defined in the relevant international treaties; [and] work which, by its nature or the circumstances in which it is carried out, is likely to harm the health, safety or morals of children.”[4]

Sustainable Development Goal 8.7

In 2015, all United Nations Member States adopted 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) as part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  SDG Goal 8.7 seeks to eradicate forced labor, end modern slavery and human trafficking, and secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labor, including child soldiers by 2030.[5]  It also seeks to end child labor in all its forms by 2025.[6]  While our global community has made strides towards the elimination of child labor, all individuals and stakeholders at every level are needed to take action and raise awareness on this issue.

What Can You Do?

  • Educate yourself on child labor around the world by reviewing the recommended resources below.
  • Be a responsible consumer by buying products free of child labor.  Download ILAB’s Sweat & Toil App to avoid purchasing goods produced with child labor or forced labor.
  • Raise funds for organizations working against human trafficking, or make a tax-deductible donation to support the efforts of The John J. Brunetti Human Trafficking Academy, such as supporting an educational scholarship for survivors of human trafficking.
  • Act, inspire, and scale up with a 2021 Action Pledge to end child labor during the International Year for the Elimination of Child Labour at https://endchildlabour2021.org.
  • Share your pledge to take action against child labor and the social media shareables online with the hashtag #EndChildLabour2021 and #HumanTraffickingAcademy on World Day against Child Labor on June 12, and throughout the International Year for the Elimination of Child Labour.

Resources

Resolution 73/327, International Year for the Elimination of Child Labour, 2021 (adopted by United Nations General Assembly on July 25, 2019).

United Nations General Assembly Resolution 73/327 declared 2021 the International Year for the Elimination of Child Labour. 

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Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention No. 182, International Labour Organization (1999)

ILO Convention No. 182 on the worst forms of child labor requires ratifying states to eliminate the worst forms of child labor and slavery.  It is the first ILO Convention to achieve universal ratification.

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Worst Forms of Child Labour Recommendation, International Labour Organization (1999)

The provisions of this Recommendation supplement the International Labour Organizations’s Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention, 1999.

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Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989)

The Convention on the Rights of the Child is an international treaty adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on November 20, 1989.  The Convention addresses the rights of children and the responsibilities of governments to enable and protect these rights.

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Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution, and Child Pornography (2000)

This Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on May 25, 2000, provides that State Parties shall prohibit the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography.

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Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict (2000)

This Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child aims to protect children from recruitment and use in hostilities.  It was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on May 25, 2000.

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Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons Especially Women and Children, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (2000)

The United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime is the main international instrument combatting transnational organized crime.  This Protocol supplementing the Convention addresses trafficking in persons as a transnational organized crime while focusing on women and children.  It was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on November 15, 2000.

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Minimum Age Convention No. 138, International Labour Organization (1973)

ILO Convention No. 138 calls for the effective abolition of child labor and to raise progressively the minimum age for admission to employment or work to a level consistent with the fullest physical and mental development of young persons.

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Alliance 8.7

Alliance 8.7 is the global partnership for eradicating forced labor, modern slavery, human trafficking, and child labor around the world.   Target 8.7 of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals calls for us to work together to end the recruitment and use of child labor by 2025.

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COVID-19 and Child Labour:  A Time of Crisis, A Time to Act, ILO and UNICEF (2020)

A report with recommended actions that governments can take to prevent and eliminate child labor in the time of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Child Labour: Global Estimates 2020, Trends and the Road Forward, ILO and UNICEF, New York, 2021

Published for the first time jointly by the ILO and UNICEF, as co-custodians of Target 8.7 of the Sustainable Development Goals, the report Child Labour: 2020 Global Estimates, Trends and the Road Forward describes the scale and key characteristics of child labour today, and changes over time.

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Global Regulation of Corporate Conduct: Effective Pursuit of a Slave-Free Supply Chain

Global Regulation of Corporate Conduct: Effective Pursuit of a Slave-Free Supply Chain by Dr. Roza Pati, founder and director of The John J. Brunetti Human Trafficking Academy, was published in American University Law Review, Vol. 68, Iss. 5, Art. 8, in 2019.

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Ending Child Labour, Forced Labour & Human Trafficking in Global Supply Chains (2019)

This 2019 Report presents the joint research findings and conclusions on child labor, forced labor and human trafficking linked to global supply chains from the ILO, the OECD, IOM and UNICEF.

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2019 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor

The U.S. Department of Labor’s annual Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor focuses on the efforts of certain U.S. trade beneficiary countries and territories to eliminate the worst forms of child labor through legislation, enforcement mechanisms, policies and social programs.

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List of Products Produced by Forced or Indentured Child Labor

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of International Labor Affairs (ILAB) “maintains a list of products and their source countries which it has a reasonable basis to believe are produced by forced or indentured child labor, pursuant to Executive Order 13126. This List is intended to ensure that U.S. federal agencies do not procure goods made by forced or indentured child labor.  Under procurement regulations, federal contractors who supply products on the List must certify that they have made a good faith effort to determine whether forced or indentured child labor was used to produce the items supplied.”

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Social Media Shareables

Third-Party Apps

ILAB’s Sweat & Toil: Child Labor, Forced Labor, & Human Trafficking Around the World

The U.S. Department of Labor’s App Sweat & Toil: Child Labor, Forced Labor, and Human Trafficking Around the World is a comprehensive resource developed by ILAB documenting child labor and forced labor worldwide.

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ILAB’s Comply Chain: Business Tools for Labor Compliance in Global Supply Chains

Child and forced labor in supply chains present serious and material risks to companies and industries. To help mitigate these risks, the U.S. Department of Labor developed the Comply Chain: Business Tools for Labor Compliance in Global Supply Chains App.

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Slavery Footprint

Through a grant from the U.S. Department of State’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, the NGO Made in a Free World developed Slavery Footprint, a web- and mobile-based application that allows users to understand how their lives may intersect with modern slavery. Slavery Footprint has been visited by over 25 million users in 190 countries since its launch in 2011.

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Third-Party Videos

Children’s Issues: The Global Plight of Child Labor

This course addresses the background of child labor and the forms it takes abroad and in the United States.  This course was taught by Prof. Nora V. Demleitner, Professor of Law, Washington and Lee University School of Law, at The John J. Brunetti Human Trafficking Academy’s intensive 15-course training certification, The State of Labor Trafficking Domestically and Abroad: A Critical Assessment on the 20th Anniversary of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, in July of 2020.

Video Credit:  The John J. Brunetti Human Trafficking Academy

Pope Francis: We are all responsible for the scourge of child labour (June 10, 2020)

Recognizing World Day Against Child Labor, Pope Francis appeals to the international community to protect the boys and girls who are deprived of their childhood when they are forced into child labor.

Video Credit:  Vatican News

Inside the Hidden Reality of Labor Trafficking in America, Trafficked in America

This documentary from Frontline PBS goes inside the major 2014 labor trafficking case involving Guatemalan teens who were forced by a third-party contractor to work against their will at Trillium Farms in Ohio — one of the country’s largest egg producers.

Video Credit: Frontline PBS

Faces of Human Trafficking: Focus on Youth

This video highlights the specific vulnerabilities, risk factors, and needs of youth, with a focus on the diverse range of professionals who are in a position to identify exploited youth and connect them with appropriate services.

Video Credit: Office for Victim’s of Crime, U.S. Department of Justice


[1] Global Estimates of Child Labour: Results and Trends, 2012-2016, International Labour Office (ILO), Geneva, 2017.
[2] Id.
[3] https://endchildlabour2021.org/
[4] Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention, 1999, Art. 3 (No. 182).
[5] https://www.alliance87.org/target-8-7/
[6] Id.

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December 31, 2021
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