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War against child labour, the crime committed against 215 million children globally


12 June 2010, Worldwide - “Children should not work, instead should have books in their hands. I know this because I had to start working at a very young age at the stone quarries. I want every child to go to school and get a free and quality education,” says Amarlal, a 14-year-old former bonded child laborer from India. A please like this is still heard from millions of children today, even eleven years after the international community came to an unanimous adoption of the ILO Convention No. 182 on the worst forms of child labour.

The popularity of the Convention and a clear political commitment shown so far by 171 countries to eliminate child labour were not coincidence. A strong push by civil society organisations and individuals made it possible for the world to move rapidly to take actions. The Global March Against Child Labour initiated building a worldwide movement of NGOs, trade unions, teachers and children in 1998 and created an unprecedented support of millions around the world. Without the presence of partners of the Global March in over 140 countries vigorously pushing the governments to ratify and implement the Convention, such tremendous momentum for the fight against child labour could not have been built and sustained.

The World Day today is a reminder that there are still 215 million children against whom the crime of child labour is being committed. 115 mullion children, amounting to 1 out of 7 children in worst forms of child labour, that 11 years ago we pledged to our children.

Ensuring children’s full rights to receive education and to be free from exploitation must be the first and urgent task of the world leaders, governments, and civil society .

“It is time for us to declare war against child labour. It is time for the international community to state quite clearly that enough is enough and a strong political commitment must emerge to combat child labour once and for all. As with other wars, we need to establish effective strategic partnerships, including with those countries where child labour is prevalent. The time is right to do this and if we fail now, the consequences are too devastating to contemplate,” urged Kailash Satyarthi, chair Global March outlining a 6 point agenda to eliminate child labour starting with strategic partnerships, strengthened worldwide movement against child labour, focus on the emergence of a new child labour diplomacy and building strategic partnerships with and between such emerging economies as India, Brazil, South Africa and others, strengthening cooperation between intergovernmental organisations, including the international financial institutions, enhanced financing for education for all, and finally, strengthening the corporate social responsibility not only of multinationals, but of all business entities at different supply chain levels, including in domestic markets of developing countries.

World Day is being marked globally and regionally by the Global March partners. Events around the world will involve governments, employers and workers, other UN organizations and non-governmental organizations, high level panels, media events, awareness raising campaigns, cultural performances and other public events. The events will keep up with the focus on football as well as the new Roadmap for elimination of the worst forms of child labour by 2016 adopted during the Global Child Labour Conference in The Hague on 10-11 May 2010.

In India on the eve of the World Day, elected child leaders from the country are releasing a national roadmap for elimination of the child labour in line with the Roadmap to 2016 with a high level interfaith panel on “Religion and Child Labour”; in Bangladesh there will be rally, human chain, art competition, discussions meeting with the child laborers, parents and employers on the child labour and an Open Concert by our children on the theme “Stop Worst Form of Child Labor and Ensure Education for all Children”; in Chile commemorating the World Day and the World Cup Football, high profile mini football matches were organized, United States the US State Department and Department of Labor organized a high level discussion on child labour.

“If more countries do not provide free compulsory education, then more children will be drawn into exploitative situations. Without education no country’s future is secured as a large number of its children would be uneducated”, says Zama and Maphefo Khosa, two former child labourers from South Africa on the eve of the biggest sporting event of the globe World Cup Football 2010.


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