Friday, 12 June 2015, was the World Day Against Child Labor. This day reminds us of our plight to eradicate, without delay, the worst forms of child labor (as defined in Article 3 of ILO Convention No. 182).
The worst forms of child labor include trafficking of children, forced or compulsory recruitment of children for use in armed conflict, as well as the use, procuring or offering of a child for illicit activities, to list just three examples. Instances occur not only far away and out of sight but also nearby, as a criminal case in The Hague, the Netherlands, illustrates.
On 2 June, The Hague Institute for Global Justice explored concrete means to ensure anti-trafficking, including child trafficking, by means of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. Together with the Global March Against Child Labor, The Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime and the Bureau of the National Rapporteur on Trafficking in Human Beings and Sexual Violence against Children, the Institute co-organized an expert roundtable discussion and panel discussion as a kick-off of its continued work on “orphan” crimes.
That project will seek to bring about a public-private partnerships that holistically tackles human trafficking, thereby assisting states that cannot and should not have to deal with their obligation to eliminate trafficking for the purpose of labor exploitation alone. One avenue will be to capitalize on the enormous potential for companies to clean their supply or value chains.
Also, private enterprises can assist comprehensive anti-trafficking efforts together with NGOs, governments, trade unions, industry associations and human rights experts, as ABN Amro bank also states. As a last concrete recommendation to businesses, they can support the education programs that are being proposed by the International Labor Organization today and ensure reintegration of adult victims via job training and allocated company vacancies.
Another commendable effort that will hopefully assist the combat of forced or compulsory recruitment of children for use in armed conflict, is the foreseen policy of the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court on children as victims of international crimes. As a policy priority for this permanent penal tribunal with potentially global reach, it can contribute to the promising trend of declining forced child labor that the International Program on the Elimination of Child Labor observed.
However, while the overall rate of decline is accelerating, it is also clear that the 2016 target for the elimination of the worst forms of child labor will not be met. Hence, the aforementioned efforts to reach that goal in the foreseeable future will require a substantial acceleration of efforts by all aforementioned stakeholders and at all levels. The Institute remains committed to contribute to these efforts.