UN: End child labor by 2025



According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), agriculture is where the worst and most common forms of child labor are found. Coffee plantations employ children to pick beans in Colombia, Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Mexico, Nicaragua, Dominican Republic, Honduras, Panama, El Salvador, Guinea, and Ivory Coast.



Cotton-picking is done by children all over the world, but particularly in countries whose economies rely heavily on its harvest - like in Ivory Coast, where it provides a livelihood for 3 million people. According to the NGO Cotton Campaign, it is also a major problem in Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, where children are sometimes forced to work in the cotton sector.



The US Department of Labor lists 15 countries using child labor to produce bricks for construction projects. These countries include Argentina, Brazil, China, Ecuador, North Korea and Peru.


Garment industry

Perhaps most famous for its oppressive sweatshop conditions in Cambodia and Bangladesh, the garment industry employs children all around the world. Here, Syrian refugees, including children, are seen producing shoes in Gaziantep, southeastern Turkey.



Sugarcane harvesting is carried out by children in countries such as Guatemale, the Phillipines and Cambodia, amongst others. ILO found thousands of children working in sugarcane production in the Phillipines, some as young as seven years old.



ILO says that the tobacco industry is one of the most hazardous for child workers due to the long hours, extreme heat, exposure to dangerous chemicals, having to carry heavy loads and risk of attack from animals. The average child worker in the tobacco industry works around 10 hours a day.



Child labor in mines, particularly gold mines, is common in some parts of Africa, Asia and South America. Children either risk death from explosions in mine shafts, or must stand for hours in riverbeds sifting for small nuggets of gold. Because of unclean water, the children working in the gold industry are at high risk of contracting dysentery, malaria, meninigitis and tuberculosis.

The international community has pledged to accelerate efforts to eradicate child labor by 2025 at a major UN conference in Buenos Aires. Around 10 percent of children have to work, and the problem could get even worse.

The fourth annual Global Conference on the Sustained Eradication of Child Labor ended late Thursday with governments and international organizations adopting the Buenos Aires Declaration.

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"We know what to do, and there are no excuses not to do so," said Guy Ryder, director-general of the International Labour Organization (ILO), the UN labor agency.

"The future is going to be a world free of forced labor and child labor."

The declaration spells out concrete actions aimed at eliminating child labor by 2025 and forced labor by 2030, as well as steps to improve employment opportunities for young people around the world.

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"We hope that Buenos Aires will be the place where the international community takes measures so as not to tolerate the intolerable," Ryder said, adding that while there had been significant progress over the past 20 years, it is time "to do more and to do it better." 

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From the workplace to the classroom

The declaration stressed that there are more than 150 million children in the workforce, many of them engaged in hazardous jobs. More than a third of them do not go to school.

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Delegates gathered in the Argentine capital said many countries were failing to invest enough to ensure schools could provide children with meals, transport and occupational training — elements that could remove the need to work.

"We need to work hand in hand with the government so the facilities are there when we get a child out of work and back into education," Hillary Yuba of the Progressive Teachers' Union of Zimbabwe said in comments carried by the Thompson Reuters Foundation.

 Ausbeutung von syrischen Flüchtlingen in der Textilindustrie in der Türkei

Mohammed, a Syrian refugee, works at a shoe shop in Gaziantep, southeastern Turkey

Children's activist Kailash Satyarthi, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014, told the foundation that an injection of $39 billion (€33 billion) could provide quality pre-primary, primary and secondary education to all children by 2030.

He said that although many countries had abolished school fees, the hidden cost of uniforms and transport still posed a challenge to poorer families.

The three-day conference, organized by the Argentine government with backing from the ILO, brought together government representatives, employers and workers, and civil society organizations.

nm/rt (Reuters, AFP)

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