International Conference of the Global March Against Child Labour
Moscow, 19-20 May 2008
The International Conference convened jointly by the Global March Against Child Labour and its partners – the New Perspectives Foundations, its Focal Point for Eastern Europe and the Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Russia (FNPR) – with active participation of the ILO Sub-regional Office for Eastern Europe and Central Asia – has completed its work. There was a broad and constructive discussion on child labour problems, the necessity to fight this problem and measures to be taken to abolish child labour.
Delegations of different countries and organizations dealing with child labour issues expressed their sincere gratitude to the New Perspectives Foundation and FNPR, the two Global March partners in Russia, for the organization of this activity.
Representatives of 15 countries underlined that the Conference was an historic, important and unique step – the first activity of the GMACL conducted in Russia for Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia. It aimed to draw the attention of all partners committed to providing decent life to people, decent work to adults and a happy childhood to children.
Participants supported the growth of and cooperation within the global movement as one of the ILO’s key measures in eliminating child labour. The social partners and in particular trade unions have played a key role in moving the child labour issue to the centre of the international agenda and have a unique role in organizing in workplaces and negotiating agreements to ensure that workplaces are free of child labour.
It was acknowledged that exploitation of children is the worst violation of human rights and a senseless waste of the most valuable human potential. Millions of children work in absolutely unacceptable conditions in contravention of ILO Conventions 138 and 182, and are consequently deprived of their of their childhood, health and sometimes even their life.
Participants noted that state sponsored child labour in some countries of the region is a major barrier to sustainable social development, to the creation of decent living and working conditions and to the well-being of the population.
The consent of the majority of ILO member States to ratify ILO Conventions 138 and 182 and their commitment to implement them effectively reflects the decision of the international community to fight child labour. For this purpose the strategy promoting this process in many countries should be developed. Elimination of child labour is one of the basic principles of the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work and a key component in the Decent Work Agenda. Participants called upon tripartite constituents to ensure the ratification and application in full of the fundamental and priority Conventions as well as the Dakar Declaration “Education for All”.
Given the Pan-European nature of the Conference, and taking into account the persistent and egregious problem of trafficking of children and adults into and within the region, the participants urge their governments to ratify and apply fully the Convention on Action against Trafficking of the Council of Europe, which came into force in February 2008.
In the light of the particular problems faced by migrant workers and their families in the region, the participants also urged their governments to apply the ILO’s Non-Binding Multilateral Guidelines on a Rights-Based Approach to Migration.
Acknowledging children’s right to be protected against child labour as defined by ILO Conventions 138 and 182: economic exploitation and any type of work that prevents them from having access to a proper education, or which jeopardizes their mental, physical or moral well-being or social development;
Considering the need to prohibit and eliminate the worst forms of child labour as the priority for both national and international action in the campaign to eliminate all child labour, including international cooperation and support in implementing the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and ILO C138 on minimum age for employment and C182 on the worst forms of child labour;
Taking into consideration that child labour in the agricultural sector is the most widespread in the countries of the region and that it is strongly advisable to ratify ILO C184 on Safety and Health in Agriculture;
Acknowledging that the successful elimination of child labour depends on sustainable and equitable socio-economic development, poverty reduction, comprehensive education and is achievable through actions of government with active participation of workers’ and employers’ organizations, and NGOs dealing with child labour problems;
Acknowledging that urgent actions to achieve the goals of;
preventing child labour;
withdrawal of children from child labour; and
rehabilitation and integration of children and their parents into the society are decisive;
Emphasizing that it would be wise to use ILO experience gained by its International Programme for the Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC) to order to achieve those goals;
Taking into consideration the achievements of eight CIS countries in cooperation with the ILO, in particular by signing national Decent Work Country Programmes containing an Outcome on child labour:
Participants have concluded the following:
All countries should undertake urgent measures for the immediate elimination of child labour, in particular its worst forms: forced labour, including child trafficking, child prostitution and pornography, drug trafficking, use of children in armed conflicts; and activities dangerous to their health, safety and morals and work which prevents them from getting access to education;
Strong political will is needed to combat child labour. Combined actions of government, workers’ and employers’ organizations, NGOs, representatives of children and their families and society at large contributing their various roles to the solution of this multi-faceted problem are needed. The Conventions require tripartite oversights and national interagency committees should be established at the top level to eliminate child labour in different countries;
It is recommended to use DWCPs as a vehicle to economic development and social integration;
In order to achieve the three abovementioned goals in combating child labour work should be done in following directions:
Awareness raising on child labour and strengthening of social partnership;
Development of appropriate legislation and law enforcement;
Public policy development on child labour;
Direct assistance to children and their parents.
Special attention should be focused on girls and children at risk.
Alongside public policy, mature systems of industrial relations should play an essential role in ensuring that workplaces are free of child labour;
It is necessary to conduct researches and studies on a regular basis to get more detailed information. It is recommended to develop a system of indicators and collect statistical data regularly. It is advised to support the ILO Resolution on child lab our statistics;
It is necessary to work closely with Labour Inspections – which need to be strengthened, adequately resourced, child friendly and have universal coverage – and conduct child labour monitoring on a regular basis;
An integrated approach of the ILO Decent work concept should be used in combating child labour integrating social dialogue, education, poverty reduction, youth employment, children’s rights protection, social protection of children and their parents; use different training programmes;
Combine efforts in achieving an international goal of providing education for all because education is a real alternative to child labour and efficient and economic way to fight it;
It is necessary to further develop a system of social services to provide assistance to vulnerable groups;
Further awareness raising and capacity building of stakeholders are needed;
In developing programmes, gender equality issues should be included because gender relations and gender functions are of key importance in specifying a scope and character of child labour;
For the effective abolition of child labour it is necessary to provide representation of children and their parents and their active participation in drafting and implementation of programmes;
To ensure effective action and better targeting of vulnerable groups, it is important to take into consideration specific features of different countries.