Falling Short of Child Labour Deadlines: The Experts Speak

On the 12th of June, World Day Against Child
Labour, several experts released statements expressing their continued concern
for children labouring to survive. According to the ILO’s Director-General Juan
Somavia, 215 million children remain in child labour and over half of these in
the worst forms of labour.

Despite ILO targets to end child labour by
2016, only 30 million children have been brought out of labour. The number of
children in the worst forms of labour is over 11 times the population of
Hungary.   The ILO estimates that 5
million children are trapped in forced labour, a similar number to the
populations of Denmark and Finland, and this is thought to be an underestimate.

The Special Rapporteur on the sale of
children, child prostitution and child pornography, Najat Maalla M’jid, said that the sexual exploitation of
children in countries of all regions persists and reaches sometimes alarming
The Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms
of slavery, Gulnara Shahinian, discussed the use of children in mines. Here,
children often start working at the age of three. She stated that children working in this sector, the
majority of whom are boys, “are treated as commodities and face particular
physical, psychological, economic and sexual exploitation.”
Each of the experts took this opportunity to
express their concern that the decline of child labour has slowed noticeably. It
was suggested that this may be due to economic downturn, but there is no room
for complacency.