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Joint letter calls on Business to help eliminate child labour

Apr 05, 2013

Gordon Brown, UN Special Envoy for Global Education, Guy Rider, Director-General of the ILO, and the UN Global Compact's Executive Director Georg Kell today issued a global call to business to help eliminate child labour - within business operations, throughout the value chain, and by investing in education.

Following the one-year anniversary of the launch of the Children’s Rights and Business Principles last month, Gordon Brown, UN Special Envoy for Global Education, Guy Ryder, Director-General of the International Labour Organization, and Georg Kell, Executive Director of the UN Global Compact, today issued a joint letter urging business to do more to help deliver a world fit for all children.

The joint letter calls on business to effectively address child labour within business operations and the value chain, as a concrete and core business contribution towards achieving this goal. Investment in education is also a key opportunity for business to reinforce community and government efforts to protect and fulfill children’s rights, thereby helping to secure everyone’s future.

The Children’s Principles elaborate the corporate responsibility to respect children’s rights and invite the corporate commitment to support these human rights in the workplace, marketplace and community. One of the key themes is the effective abolition of child labour, which is also Principle 5 of the UN Global Compact. Both of these are underpinned by the International Labour Organization’s Minimum Age Convention No. 138 and Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention No. 182.

The International Labour Organisation has estimated that there are 215 million children around the world who are in some form of child labour. As many as a quarter of all children out of school globally are denied an education because they are forced to work instead.

By contrast, when children have access to quality education, child labour prevalence is greatly reduced and economic and social development is promoted. According to the joint letter, “Time is running out to meet the 2015 deadline for the internationally agreed Millennium Development Goal on universal primary education for boys and girls, and the 2016 deadline for the elimination of the worst forms of child labour.”

At a special meeting in April in Washington, DC, the three leaders will call for a new global commitment and action through the United Nations to abolish all forms of child slavery by the end of 2015, in order to meet the education goal of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). To this end, as progress is accelerated towards 2015, companies are invited to strengthen their efforts in the following ways:

  • consult key resources for employers on children’s rights, supply chain, and child labour resources to raise awareness;
  • acknowledge receipt of this letter by emailing humanrights@unglobalcompact.org with a brief example of what their firm is doing or plans to do, or with their words of support;
  • step up efforts to respect and support children’s rights in alignment with the Children’s Principles;
  • consider making a commitment about their plans and actions; and
  • consider joining the ILO/UN Global Compact Child Labour Platform.

 

For the joint letter, click here.

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