May 10, 2021

The United Nations has declared 2021 as the International Year for the Elimination of Child Labor. Various U.S. Government agencies have come together to make the following action pledge in support of the goals of this important year.

At the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of International Labor Affairs, we recognize this as a unique opportunity to make a difference in the lives of millions of children and families around the world, and we pledge to pursue bold actions that help fulfill this central aim of our mission. 

ILAB will provide $57 million during 2021 to accelerate action internationally to eliminate child labor and forced labor by:

  • Supporting efforts by the global community, including worker organizations, civil society, and Alliance 8.7 Pathfinder countries, to address child labor and forced labor;
  • Expanding access to social protection for vulnerable children, workers, and families, to ensure that a crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic will never again threaten their health and wellbeing;
  • Fostering companies’ responsibility and accountability for their supply chains and promoting respect for worker voice and other labor rights;
  • Creating an online platform to share with the public the tools, resources, research, and lessons learned developed through decades of ILAB-supported technical assistance programming aimed at eliminating child labor and forced labor around the world;
  • Promoting donor coordination to share good practices with the goal of maximizing impact of international technical assistance funding;
  • Conducting research and analysis on the efforts of 130 countries to address child labor during 2020, in the face of COVID-19; 
  • Issuing the Iqbal Masih award in recognition of exceptional efforts to reduce child labor; and
  • Supporting the V Global Conference on Child Labor, including promoting full participation by civil society and workers. 

ILAB is not taking these actions alone. Joining us in this effort is the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division, which conducts labor inspections within the United States. The Wage and Hour Division pledges to harness all of its resources in the push to eliminate child labor and forced labor by: 

  • Investigating and determining compliance with child labor laws in every full investigation that it conducts under the U.S. Fair Labor Standards Act;
  • Prioritizing compliance with child labor laws in agriculture, and making compliance an integral component of training in our national agricultural enforcement and education initiative; 
  • Prioritizing outreach efforts and engaging stakeholders across industries likely to employ minors to educate them on child labor laws; and
  • Continuing to focus on implementing a Community of Practice on Child Labor to identify effective stakeholder engagement, enforcement, and awareness-raising strategies. 

The U.S. Department of State’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons will continue to support existing U.S. Department of State Child Protection Compact Partnerships (CPCs) with the Governments of the Philippines , Peru, Jamaica, and Mongolia to strengthen their efforts to effectively prosecute and convict child traffickers, provide comprehensive trauma-informed care for child victims of these crimes, and prevent child trafficking in all its forms.  We also will work to sign a new Child Protection Compact and through the Program to End Modern Slavery to support programs informed by rigorous research that aim to reduce the prevalence of human trafficking. The U.S. government will continue to support and promote the Responsible Sourcing Tool, which provides free risk management tools to help the private sector prevent human trafficking.

USAID is committed to combating harmful child labor in 2021 through its targeted counter-trafficking in persons programs that focus on preventing forced child labor through protection, prosecution, prevention, and partnerships as well as through a dedicated focus on children in adversity.  USAID will help to ensure that parents are empowered and engaged in decent work that follows local labor laws that increasingly approach international standards and that they earn decent wages and access social protection benefits, augmenting the ability of parents to effectively protect and care for their children.  For example, an ongoing effort in Burundi will work to prevent trafficking of children through enhanced monitoring by local organizations

The Office of the United States Trade Representative will seek to utilize the full range of trade tools and work with our trade partners and allies to protect labor rights, including the elimination of the worst forms of child labor, especially forced child labor.   

Every child who has the opportunity to learn and unlock his or her full potential has the chance to change the world. This International Year for the Elimination of Child Labor spurs the world’s governments to recognize that power in each of them.