2013 Regional Outlook
Challenges and existing gaps:
Regional statistics on child labor do not exist for Europe and Eurasia. However, during the year, governments made efforts to increase the availability of information about child labor. Albania became the first country in this region to receive an assessment of Significant Advancement for making several meaningful efforts to eliminate the worst forms of child labor.
In addition, countries expanded social protection systems, and strengthened legal frameworks. Despite these efforts, more actions are needed to address gaps in legal frameworks, enhance enforcement of laws, and design and fully fund targeted programs to assist children in the worst forms of child labor.
In 2013, three countries conducted research on child labor. Armenia and Georgia participated in projects with ILO-IPEC to conduct national child labor surveys, while Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) collaborated with Save the Children to carry out research on children involved in forced begging and street work. The Government of Albania also released data from its 2010 National Child Labor Survey.
During the reporting period, governments in the region also took steps to expand social protection systems, which may prevent children from involvement in the worst forms of child labor. Moldova adopted a law that calls for creation of a framework for identifying, evaluating, assisting, monitoring, and registering at-risk children and children separated from their parents, including those in child labor, and designated agencies to implement the framework. In Montenegro, the Government adopted the National Plan of Action for Children 2013-2017, which complements the Law on Social and Child Protection. This law promotes and protects children’s rights in the areas of social services, child protection, health services, and education.
Across the region, laws are largely harmonized with international standards, and most countries have ratified international instruments relating to child labor. During the reporting period, several governments took steps to further improve their legal frameworks. Azerbaijan and BiH strengthened laws on trafficking, while Albania, Montenegro, Russia, and Ukraine enhanced their legal provisions against child pornography and other forms of commercial sexual exploitation of children.
Likewise, governments in the region implemented policies related to child trafficking and other worst forms of child labor. Armenia and Georgia adopted policies to combat trafficking. Azerbaijan adopted an action plan to address child labor, and Moldova extended the application of its child labor action plan from six to nine districts, where local public administrations developed local plans and created special teams to combat child labor. In BiH, the Government appointed a National Coordinator to oversee implementation of the country action plan under the regional Decade for Roma Inclusion initiative. Roma children throughout the region are discriminated against and particularly vulnerable to involvement in the worst forms of child labor.
Even with these positive efforts, gaps remained in the areas of legislation, enforcement, and the targeting and funding of social programs to combat child labor. While many countries’ legal frameworks protect children from the worst forms of child labor, others contain provisions that fall short. BiH, Montenegro, and Serbia do not have comprehensive lists of hazardous work prohibited to children. In Russia and Ukraine, possession of child pornography is not criminalized. The laws of these two countries, as well as Serbia, also do not fully protect older children from certain kinds of commercial sexual exploitation.
Enforcement remained a challenge across the region. Gaps in resources and the lack of capacity of labor inspectorates detract from enforcement of child labor laws in Kosovo, Moldova, Serbia, and Ukraine. Georgia remained without a labor inspectorate to enforce any labor laws, and Armenia does not have a specific mechanism for registering child labor complaints.
Countries in the region also struggled to allocate funding for social programs that would decrease the need for families to send their children to work. Kosovo and Ukraine carried out programs to combat various forms of child labor, but these were underfunded. In Macedonia, the number of centers that provide services to vulnerable children is insufficient. Research found no evidence that Moldova contributes funding to its donor-supported child labor programs, which suggests they may not be sustainable. Research has also found limited evidence of government funding for social programs to specifically address child labor, other than human trafficking, in Azerbaijan. Russia did not fund or participate in any programs targeting child laborers.