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Countries commit to tackling child labour across borders

22 November 2017

Measures to eradicate child labour, modern slavery and human trafficking across the Commonwealth took a step forward at a major global conference in Argentina.

The Secretariat hosted a key meeting at the ‘IV Global Conference on the Sustained Eradication of Child Labour’ to share best practices and identify gaps and challenges to national efforts to combat child labour.

Among those present at the meeting with Commonwealth member states, were the Ministers of Labour and Employment of Malawi and Ghana, in addition to the Labour Commissioners of Uganda, Malawi, Zambia and Ghana.

Steve Onwuasoanya, human rights adviser at the Commonwealth Secretariat, said, “We are continuing to drive forward our efforts to bring an end to the cruel exploitation of those children who are forced to work from a young age. What we have found at this conference is that those Commonwealth countries that are proactively taking steps to tackle this problem have seen a significant reduction in child labour.

“However, further support is needed if member states are to end this scourge. That’s why we’re working with countries on their national action plans to help eliminate the worst forms of child labour.

“We’re also working to strengthen national human rights institutions to investigate and tackle child labour violations.”

The Commonwealth partnered with the Embassy of the United Kingdom in Buenos Aires, and the Walk Free Foundation, a nongovernmental organisation which works to end modern slavery across the globe.

Mr Onwuasoanya added, “Going forward we will be working with member states to improve their ability to collect evidence-based data, as well as enabling countries to share methods to track and tackle child labour, both in their own country and across borders.”

One of the outcomes of the conference was that the pandemic of child labour should be raised at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in London in April 2018.

More than 4,000 participants attended the conference, representing government delegations, trade unions intergovernmental organsations, civil society, academia, private sector and the media. 

The conference adopted the Buenos Aires Declaration on Child Labour, Forced Labour and Youth Employment. The declaration calls for international, regional and national alliances, as well as joint actions to combat child labour.

Read the declaration