Over 168 million children are still trapped in child labor around the world. As supply chains have become more increasingly complex, the risk of child labor is present in all supply chains, and all enterprises must be vigilant to ensure that their supply chains are free from child labor. Because child labor occurs largely in the informal economy in areas where law enforcement is weak or absent, abuses often go undetected. Governments must step up their efforts to tackle the problem.
The theme of this year’s World Day Against Child Labor, which took place on June 12, is ending child labor in supply chains. USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson gave introductory remarks at an event titled “End Child Labor in Supply Chains: It’s Everyone’s Business,” on June 9 at UNICEF headquarters in New York. The event was hosted by the International Labor Organization (ILO), UNICEF, the United States Fund for UNICEF and the Permanent Mission of Argentina to the United Nations. Argentinian UN Ambassador Martín García Moritán gave keynote remarks on the importance of child labor eradication.
Robinson reaffirmed USCIB’s commitment to eliminating child labor. As the International Labor Organization’s (IOE) regional vice president for North America, Robinson highlighted the many ways in which employers have contributed to the fight against child labor, including the IOE-ILO Child Labor Guiddance Tool for Business and the 2007 IOE-ILO Guides for Employers on Eliminating Child Labor. USCIB has also worked to educate companies on the tools available to address child labor in supply chains, for example through a recent webinar USCIB hosted with UNICEF.
“The IOE and its member federations play an active role both within countries and internationally in combating child labor and advocating global access to education for children around the world,” Robinson said. “We view child labor, particularly in its most dangerous and exploitative forms, as intolerable both because of its inhumanity and the negative long-term consequences for the economic and social well-being of the children concerned.”
During the event, panelists discussed best practices and approaches that companies have adopted to respect children’s rights and eliminate child labor.
“Like all of you, we in the business community view this as a shared responsibility,” Robinson concluded. “Companies at all levels must work to root out child labor from their supply chains, while states must improve accountability and governance, which, I might add, has the added benefit of improving a country’s overall investment climate.”