All member states ratify UN child labour convention

Updated 05 Aug 2020

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ILO estimates that there are 152 million youngsters under the age of 18 around the world in child labour. — Reuters/File
ILO estimates that there are 152 million youngsters under the age of 18 around the world in child labour. — Reuters/File

GENEVA: Every member state has ratified a United Nations convention banning the worst forms of child labour, the UN announced on Tuesday, in a historic first — though eliminating such practices remains distant.

The Pacific island nation of Tonga formally lodged its ratification with the International Labour Organisation on Tuesday, meaning all 187 ILO member states have done so — the first convention ever to be universally ratified in the UN agency’s 100-year history.

“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,” said ILO director-general Guy Ryder.

“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 well-being, have no place in our society.”

However, he was under no illusions that ratification equated to implementation.

The ILO estimates that there are 152 million youngsters under the age of 18 around the world in child labour, with around half in the worst forms, and 73 million doing work considered as hazardous. Some 70 percent of all child labour takes place in agriculture — two-thirds of which is unpaid family work — and is mostly poverty-related. Nearly one in five African youngsters are in child labour.

Published in Dawn, August 5th, 2020