For over a decade, child labour has been recognized as a key issue of human rights at work together with freedom of association, the right to collective bargaining, the abolition of forced labour, and non-discrimination in occupation and employment. However, despite the large social reform movement that has been generated around this issue, more than 200 million children worldwide are still in child labour and a staggering 115 million at least, are subject to its worst forms. Photo:ILO/Crozet M.
In 2006, encouraged by the positive results of the second Global Report, the ILO set the target of 2016 for eliminating the worst forms of child labour. Almost half-way towards that date, the report shows that in some critical parts of the world the fight is in danger of being lost. It warns that if current trends continue the 2016 target will not be reached. Photo:ILO/Crozet M.
Progress was greatest among children aged 5-14, where the number of child labourers fell by 10 per cent. The number of children in hazardous work in this age range fell by 31 per cent. Photo:ILO/Crozet M.
The good news is that the overall pattern of child labour reduction has been maintained: the more harmful the work and the more vulnerable the children involved, the faster the decline. However, a staggering 115 million are still exposed to hazardous work, a proxy often used for the worst forms of child labour. Photo:ILO/Crozet M.
There has been a welcome 15 per cent decrease in the number of girls in child labour and a 24 per cent decline in the number of girls in hazardous work. Photo:ILO/Crozet M.
Boys, however, saw their work increase, both in terms of incidence rates and in absolute numbers. The extent of hazardous work among boys remained relatively stable. Photo:ILO/Crozet M.
The global number of child labourers had declined from 222 million to 215 million, or 3 per cent, over the period 2004 to 2008, representing a "slowing down of the global pace of reduction." The updated picture is one of "uneven" progress toward the goal of eliminating the worst forms of child labour by 2016. The report warns that if current trends continue the 2016 target will be missed. Photo:ILO/Crozet M.
"Progress is uneven: neither fast enough nor comprehensive enough to reach the goals that we have set," said ILO Director-General Juan Somavia. "New and large-scale efforts are needed. The situation calls for a re-energized campaign against child labour. We must scale up action and move into a higher gear.". Photo:ILO/pool photo ILC
There has been an alarming 20 per cent increase in child labour in the 15-17 years age group - from 52 million to 62 million. Photo:ILO/Pirogov V.
Asia Pacific and Latin America and the Caribbean continue to reduce child labour, while sub-Saharan Africa has witnessed an increase both in relative and absolute terms. This region also has the highest incidence of children working, with one in four children engaged in child labour. Photo:ILO/Crozet M.
Most child labourers continue to work in agriculture (60 per cent). Only one in five working children is in paid employment. The overwhelming majority are unpaid family workers. Photo:ILO/Crozet M.
"Most child labour is rooted in poverty. The way to tackle the problem is clear. We must ensure that all children have the chance of going to school, we must fight any form of discrimination and we need social protection systems that support vulnerable families. We also need to ensure that adults have a chance of decent work. These measures, combined with effective enforcement of laws that protect children, provide the way forward", says Constance Thomas, Director, ILO/IPEC. Photo:ILO/Crozet M.
The International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC) was created in 1992 to enhance the ILO's response to its long-standing goal of the effective elimination of child labour. Since then, IPEC has grown to become the biggest dedicated child labour programme in the world and the largest technical cooperation programme within the ILO with over $60 million expenditure in 2008. Photo:ILO/pool photo ILC
There has been considerable progress in the ratification of ILO standards concerning child labour, namely of Conventions 182 (on the worst forms of child) and 138 (on minimum age). However, one third of the children in the world live in countries that have not ratified these conventions. Photo:ILO/pool photo ILC
Eliminating child labour is an essential element in the ILO's goal of "Decent Work for All". The ILO tackles child labour not as an isolated issue but as an integral part of national efforts for economic and social development. Photo:ILO/Crozet M.