World Day Against Child Labor
A fundamental right that belongs to every individual is the right to live a full and decent life, free from violence, abuse and degrading treatment. Deprived of their childhood, freedom and right to education, child labor is a crime against humanity. In light of the growing child labor epidemic, the International Labor Organization launched “World Day Against Labor” in 2002. Since the official declaration of this day, it is globally observed to shine light on child labor around the world and to unite efforts to eradicate this phenomena. Prohibited by international law, child labor is generally divided into three categories:
The first category, which is the worst form of child labor includes: Slavery, human trafficking, debt bondage, forced labor, sexual exploitation of children and the involvement of children in illicit activities.
The second category includes work performed by a child below the minimum age requirement for said job (according to national legislation and international standards). This category includes work that affects the child's education and hinders their growth.
Child laborers are subjected to hazardous and horrendous working conditions that are physically harmful, especially over a long period of time.
In addition, being forced to work interferes with their education as most children either do not have the time, funds and/or energy necessary to attend school.
The last category includes work that, due to its nature or the circumstances in which it is performed, threatens the child’s physical, psychological health and moral development.
This could be work in a mine, where children are at risk of death and/or injury from accidental explosions or tunnel collapses.
The celebration of “World Day Against Child Labor 2020” will focus on the impact of crisis on child labor. The grim reality is that children are particularly vulnerable in the face of a crisis. With the rapid spreading of the novel coronavirus worldwide and due to the socio-economic impacts of the COVID-19 crisis, thousands of vulnerable children are at risk of being exploited. According to the latest United Nations statistics, an estimated 152 million children are victims of child labor globally, with 73 million forced to work in hazardous conditions. With the global effect of the pandemic directly resulting in labor market imbalances, children are now facing more difficult working conditions and are being subjected to longer work hours. Statistics show that child labor is concentrated in the agricultural sector (71%), while 17% work in the service sector and 12% work in the industrial sector. We, at the Geneva Institute for Human Rights, celebrate this day by reaffirming our commitment to the fundamental values that the Institute is founded on, the protection and promotion of human rights, including the rights of children. It is important to remember the suffering of children in areas of armed conflict and political unrest, particularly in the Middle East and North Africa. Children in these regions are victims of the political and indirect consequences of the ongoing turmoil and conflict. Despite the progressive strides taken, work still remains in ensuring the effective action against child labor. On the other hand, with the increased activism on child labor, we at GIHR, stress that child labor is preventable and should not be forgotten during COVID-19. We appeal to all governments, regional and national organizations and the international community to recognize the growing issue of child labor, all aspects of children’s vulnerabilities and protection challenges, and adopt effective strategies that would allow the elimination of this horrible phenomenon.