WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Department of Labor today released an update of its annual child labor report – representing the most comprehensive research product to date on the state of child labor in over 130 countries worldwide. The Department simultaneously released a new mobile app, Comply Chain, designed to help businesses root out child labor and forced labor from global supply chains.
The announcement follows International Labor Organization (ILO) figures released yesterday estimating there are still over 152 million child laborers and 25 million forced laborers worldwide. While the child labor estimates represent a nearly 40 percent reduction, or 94 million fewer children, since the ILO began measuring the global prevalence of child labor over 15 years ago, the pace of change has markedly declined over the past four years compared with previous periods.
“Although we have made significant progress, the 2016 ILO figures show that child labor and modern slavery persist. These practices generate profit for the perpetrators, rob children of their innocence, adults of their dignity, and create an uneven playing field for businesses that play by the rules,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta. “We must make these injustices a relic of the past. This report and new app chart a path forward by creating a fast track to more effective action.”
“This is not about naming and shaming. This is about promoting proven strategies,” said Martha Newton, Deputy Undersecretary for International Affairs at the U.S. Department of Labor. “By putting the right data and the right tools in the right hands, we make better decisions and get results that make a meaningful difference in the lives of vulnerable children and their families.”
Concrete Actions for Governments and a Tool for Businesses
The sixteenth annual edition of the Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor recognizes the efforts of 135 countries and territories around the world to address child labor and assesses whether each country has made significant, moderate, minimal, or no advancement over the past year. In 2016, 23 countries made a significant advancement in their efforts to address child labor, more than ever before. The report also details substantial actions that countries will need to take to continue to make progress towards eliminating child labor.
Less than a third of the countries assessed had adequately staffed labor inspectorates and less than half authorize their inspectorates to assess penalties for violations. The report also identifies new concerning trends emerging over the past year, including young children being used to traffic small quantities of drugs within their countries and children being coerced into performing sex acts for live internet broadcasts in small internet cafes, private homes, or windowless dungeon-like buildings.
To curb such abuses, the report suggests more than 1,700 country-specific actions that governments can implement to accelerate the fight against child labor. Of these recommendations, 1,100 relate to improvements in and enforcement of laws, indicating the urgent need for additional progress in holding those who perpetrate abuses accountable.
To help businesses do their part in ending child labor and forced labor, the Department’s new mobile application, Comply Chain: Business Tools for Labor Compliance in Global Supply Chains, provides companies clear and detailed guidance on how to develop robust social compliance systems in their global supply chains. The easy-to-use tool assists companies, including suppliers, in identifying, rectifying, and preventing labor abuses in the goods they produce. The free resource is available for download on both iOS and Android platforms.
Also accompanying the release of the report is an updated version of the Sweat & Toil smart phone app, which contains information on goods produced by child labor or forced labor and the latest findings on government’s efforts to address child labor. It makes thousands of pages of data portable, searchable, and accessible in every corner of the globe.
ILAB is a world leader in the fight to eradicate global labor abuses. The Bureau combats child labor, forced labor, and human trafficking by:
- Researching and reporting evidence to inform U.S. foreign policy, trade policy, and cooperation initiatives;
- Engaging with governments, businesses, and stakeholders to ensure that each do their part; and
- Piloting innovative strategies in over 90 countries to eliminate the most hazardous and exploitative forms of child and forced labor.
More information is available at www.dol.gov/EndChildLabor. Printed versions of the reports are available from the Office of Child Labor, Forced Labor and Human Trafficking, Bureau of International Labor Affairs, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Ave. NW, Room S-5315, Washington, DC 20210. Inquiries can also be made via telephone at 202-693-4843, fax at 202-693-4830 or email at GlobalKids@dol.gov.
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