The International Labour Organisation (ILO) says all its 187 member States have ratified the ILO Convention on the Worst Forms of Child Labour, 1999 (No. 182).
Mr Guy Ryder, the ILO Director-General, who made the submission in a statement on Tuesday, August 4, 2020, noted that this was the first time in the ILO’s history that an International Labour Convention has been ratified by all member States.
He said that the universal ratification of the Convention No. 182 on the Worst Forms of Child Labour was achieved following ratification by the Kingdom of Tonga.
According to Ryder, the Convention is the most rapidly ratified Convention in the history of the organisation since its adoption 21 years ago by the International Labour Conference.
“Universal ratification of Convention 182 is an historic first that means that all children now have legal protection against the worst forms of child labour.
“It reflects a global commitment that the worst forms of child labour, such as slavery, sexual exploitation, the use of children in armed conflict or other illicit or hazardous work that compromises children’s health, morals or psychological wellbeing, have no place in our society,” he said.
Mrs Sharan Burrow, Secretary General, International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), also welcomed the universal ratification.
According to Burrow, the universal ratification of Convention 182 is a potent and timely reminder of the importance of ILO standards and the need for multilateral solutions to global problems.
“Child labour is a grievous violation of fundamental rights, and it is incumbent on the ILO’s constituents and the international community to ensure that this Convention is fully implemented, including through due diligence in global supply chains,” she said.
Mr Roberto Santos, Secretary General of the International Organisation of Employers (IOE), described the universal ratification of the Convention as a historic moment.
“Throughout the years, the IOE and its member organisations have supported the implementation of this Convention. Today, the business community is both aware of and acting on the need to do business with respect for children’s rights.
“This is even more urgent in the times of the COVID-19 pandemic. We cannot allow the fight against the worst form of child labour to backslide. Together we can work towards the end of child labour in all its forms,” he said.
It would be recalled that the ILO have estimated that there are 152 million children in child labour, 73 million of whom are in hazardous work.
The ILO also noted that 70 per cent of all child labour takes place in agriculture and are mostly related to poverty and parents’ difficulties finding decent work.
The Convention calls for the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labour, including slavery, forced labour and trafficking.
It prohibits the use of children in armed conflict, prostitution, pornography and illicit activities such as drug trafficking, and in hazardous work.
It is one of the ILO’s eight Fundamental Conventions.
These cover the abolition of child labour, the elimination of forced labour, the abolition of work-related discrimination and the rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining.
These principles are also covered by the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work (1998).
By Joan Nwagwu