By Victor Young
Nigeria and 186 member-countries have ratified the ILO Convention on the Worst Forms of Child Labour, 1999 (No. 182), making it the first time in the history of the organisation that its convention had been ratified by all members.
This feat was achieved following ratification by the Kingdom of Tonga.
A statement by ILO, on Tuesday, in Geneva, Switzerland, said Ambassador for the Kingdom of Tonga, Titilupe Fanetupouvava’u Tuivakano, formally deposited the ratification instruments with ILO Director-General, Guy Ryder, on August 4.
The Convention is the most rapidly ratified one in the history of the organisation, since its adoption 21 years ago by the International Labour Conference.
According to Guy Ryder, “universal ratification of Convention 182 is a historic first that means that all children now have legal protection against the worst forms of child labour.
“It reflects a global commitment that the worst forms of child labour, such as slavery, sexual exploitation, the use of children in armed conflict or other illicit or hazardous work that compromises children’s health, morals or psychological wellbeing, have no place in our society.
“Universal ratification of Convention 182 is a historic first. It reflects a global commitment that the worst forms of child labour, such as slavery, sexual exploitation, the use of children in armed conflict or other illicit or hazardous work that compromises children’s health, morals or psychological wellbeing, have no place in our society.”
On her part, Secretary-General of the International Trade Union Confederation, ITUC, Sharan Burrow, welcomed the ratification.
Burrow: “Universal ratification of Convention 182 is a potent and timely reminder of the importance of ILO standards and the need for multilateral solutions to global problems.
“Child labour is a grievous violation of fundamental rights, and it is incumbent on the ILO’s constituents and the international community to ensure that this Convention is fully implemented, including through due diligence in global supply chains.”
Similarly, Secretary-General of the International Organisation of Employers, IOE, Roberto Suárez Santos said: “The universal ratification of ILO Convention No. 182 on the worst forms of child labour is a historic moment.
“Throughout the years, the IOE and its member organisations have supported the implementation of this Convention.
“Today, the business community is both aware of and acting on the need to do business with respect for children’s rights. This is even more urgent in the times of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We cannot allow the fight against the worst form of child labour to backslide. Together we can work towards the end of child labour in all its forms.”
Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Kailash Satyarthi, noted that this universal ratification was a further step towards making more concrete the aspirations.
Satyarthi stressed that “I dream of a world full of safe children and safe childhoods. I dream of a world where every child enjoys the freedom to be a child.”
The ILO estimates that there are 152 million children in child labour, 73 million of whom are in hazardous work.
Seventy percent of all child labour takes place in agriculture and is mostly related to poverty and parents’ difficulties finding decent work.
Convention No. 182 calls for the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labour, including slavery, forced labour and trafficking.
It prohibits the use of children in armed conflict, prostitution, pornography and illicit activities such as drug trafficking, and in hazardous work.