The International Labour Organization (ILO) commemorated World Day Against Child Labour by hosting an event during its 111th Session of the International Labour Conference on June 12, 2023. Opening remarks by Manuela Tomei, Assistant Director General of ILO, emphasized the significance of promoting social justice and its integral relationship with achieving Sustainable Development Target 8.7 by 2025. This target aims to eliminate all forms of child labor and eradicate forced labor, modern slavery, and human trafficking by 2030. Following her remarks, a panel consisting of ILO constituents discussed their respective efforts and commitments toward social justice in combating child labor.

Jérôme Bellion-Jourdan, Deputy Secretary-General of the International Organization of Employers (IOE), underscored the need to increase engagement by tackling the cycle of poverty, limited educational access, and migration as fundamental root causes of child labor. He further urged all stakeholders to actively engage in the launching of the second edition of the International Elimination of Child Labor Change Maker Award. This award will serve as a platform to showcase global organizations and companies that have implemented actions outlined by the Durban Call to Action and promoted best practices to eliminate child labor.

Kinsu Kumar, a Youth Advocate from India and a former victim of child labor shared a personal testimony and provided examples of how people can contribute to alleviating the suffering of millions of children. Beginning his speech, he posed a compelling question: How long will 160 million children around the world have to wait for justice? He told his story of how he was rescued from child labor at the age of six and expressed gratitude towards those who took action and exclaimed how without their intervention, he would still be suffering. He declared that he is disappointed in the movement towards change he hopes to see for children in similar situations that he was once in, and that actions are the only means to giving children back their childhood.

Kailash Satyarthi, Nobel Prize Laureate, issued the closing statement that demanded an additional fifty-three to fifty-four billion dollars invested so that we can ensure education, health care, and protection for all children in the world as well as provide support for pregnant women, newborns, and their mothers. According to Satyarthi, “This is not a big deal,” as it amounts to less than ten days of military expenditure annually and just 1.4 percent of Europe’s expenditure on social protection. He concluded by expressing how ashamed he was that children forced to work in cocoa fields do not know what chocolate is or even tastes like.

After this event, it is evident that the fight against child labor is very complex and requires more dialogue, more engagement, more action, and more funding. The International Labour Organization’s hope of achieving Sustainable Development Target 8.7 will require a commitment to all those things to see positive growth by 2025.

By Miyah Jones, Policy Intern