ILO Director-General's speech in the closing ceremonie of the III Global Conference on Child Labour

Statement | Brasilia | 10 October 2013
Concluding Remarks

Guy Ryder, Director General of the ILO,
Brasilia, 10 October 2013

Thank you Minister Figueiredo, Minister Dias, President of the Conference: Minister Campello.

We are coming to the end of the Conference and I want to just to think back nine months, it was nine months ago that the President of our Conference came to Geneva, came to the ILO, came to our Governing Body and gave a very strong message that everybody had to come to this Conference and everybody had to contribute to its success, and I think the last three days have been the proof that Minister Campello’s call was heard by you, because you’ve came here in unprecedented numbers, from an unprecedented number of countries and from an unprecedented number of actors: the governments, the employers, the workers of the ILO, civil society who we have just heard from, but also academics, administrators of justice, members of the ILO’s own Committee of Experts, and, of course, the young people who delivered such a strong message to us this morning.

The call was heard, under Minister Campello’s leadership, we have the Declaration of Brasilia, and I want to agree with Minister Figueiredo who said that this is a vitally important tool for the future, but it is not the only thing that we take away from this Conference, we have the five points that the youth representatives read out to us this morning, I like them, I like the one about the universal ratification of Convention 182 in particular. But we have other things, not just the inspiration and the energy that we draw from being together. We have some very clear lessons coming out of the debate. The fact that denial that used to be a part of the debate on child labour has turned to recognition of the problems that we have. We understand the problems better. We know what works to bring an end to child labour, and I see political will continuing to grow not just amongst governments but also amongst all of the others actors who are here, each taking on their own responsibilities. With all of those things in our favor we have to ask: But what can stop us? What is holding us up? Well, I think that we know that as the number of child labourers goes down the job will get tougher, because we will be coming up again some of the most difficult people to reach and to help, and I think of children in forced labour, I think of children in armed conflict, those who are subject to sexual exploitation, those in domestic work, and of course in the agricultural economy, and we have to devise the strategies that works to free them as well. I had a very interesting experience yesterday whilst you were all working hard here. I had the chance to go the beautiful State of Mato Grosso, to the city of Cuiabá, and to see some of the work that has been done there, by the ILO, by its Brazilians partners, and I met with people who had been freed from forced labour and from child labour, and if there’s one conclusion I bring back from Cuiabá, is that it takes a combination of governments, national and local, of business, of workers, but also of labour inspectors and social actors to make our struggle a success and I want to say that this team work is absolutely essential. I want to tell you that the ILO also will be a team player in the United Nations system, in the continuing struggle for children rights. We had the special representatives of my boss, the UN General Secretary taking part in our Conference, and I think that their contribution is important, and part of our global partnership for the future will be with them.

Friends, we are coming to the end of the III Global Conference and we are thinking already about the IV Global Conference in 2017, and let’s make it very clear to ourselves that our work and preparation to the next conference will not start in three or four years, it starts now, it starts tomorrow. The big question I think is: what will the numbers of child labourers be when we gather for the next Global Conference? That 168 million is engrained in our minds today. Let’s go home thinking what numbers we are going to aim at for 2017, and Kailash has just reminded us, for the worst forms of child labour, the number should already be a big round zero.

We have to get there.

Colleagues, President Lula just threw down a challenge to you all, I don’t think he meant it that way, but he said that he was sure that in 2017 Brazil would be amongst the countries which had brought about the biggest reduction in child labour. Don’t misunderstand me but I would like you to prove him wrong. I want you to do better than Brazil. It’s a bit like the Football World Cup. We all come here next year and we sort of know that Brazil is going to win, but we need to give them a good fight, and that is what the spirit for 2017 has to be.

So thank you all,
Good Luck
See you next time