European Parliamentary hearing on child labour elimination
Brussels, 27 April 2010: Global March concerned at growing support for trade restrictive practices within European Union institutions.
Addressing members of the European Parliament during a public hearing on “Child Labour in Developing Countries” on 27 April 2010, Global March Director Nick Grisewood urged caution in considering trade restrictions linked to developing country exports that may have used child labour at some point in the supply chain. The hearing, organised by the Committee on Development, focused largely on the issue of child labour and trade-related measures to tackle this issue and a representative of the Dutch Foreign Ministry highlighted the view that an effective way to combat child labour was to exert pressure on offending countries through trade restrictions.
In addition, reference was made to the annual publication by the United States Department of Labour of a list of goods by different countries believed to be produced by child and forced labour, suggesting that a similar process should be considered by the European Union. However, Ms Constance Thomas, Director of the International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC) of the International Labour Organisation (ILO), pointed out that the process of how countries might get themselves off the list through taking appropriate action was not yet clear.
Global March is concerned that further strengthening of these viewpoints within the European Union political institutions could lead to trade-related action being taken which would be highly detrimental to vulnerable communities in developing countries. This would be out of step with the changing face of the business and development environment over recent years and could be viewed as a return to the past when harmful trade sanctions hit the poorest and most vulnerable in society.
In his address at the hearing, Mr Grisewood called for some measure of streamlining to be applied to the plethora of monitoring, auditing and certification initiatives being promoted in different economic sectors to facilitate trade activities. He also emphasised the need to ensure that core labour standards are applied throughout corporate practices, across all levels of supply chains and that efforts should be linked into building state labour inspectorates to ensure sustainability.
“Companies should not be rewarded for obeying the law,” he said. “This means that core labour standards, including the elimination and prevention of child labour, should be respected as a matter of course and not in reaction to negative media publicity.”
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- Sudhanshu Joshi
- Executive Director
- International Centre on Child Labour and Education
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