Child labor harms the physical and mental development of children, depriving them of their childhood, their potential, and their dignity. For their future and for the world’s future, we must do more to combat child labor and protect children from this scourge. June 12 is the World Day Against Child Labor, and 2021 is the International Year for the Elimination of Child Labor. We pledge to renew our commitment to end child labor and call upon our international partners to do the same.
Last year, the Convention on the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labor became the first convention ratified by every member of the International Labor Organization (ILO). The world agrees: Children should not be subjected to hazardous work or criminal exploitation. We have been making progress to protect children from exploitation. Since 2000, the number of children involved in child labor around the world steadily decreased. The ILO and UNICEF’s latest estimate, however, shows the first increase in child labor in two decades – the world’s progress combating child labor becoming another victim of the global pandemic. We must collectively do more.
The United States’ trade agreements, trade preference programs, and finance programs are conditioned on governments taking steps to enforce child labor and other labor laws. The Department of State continues to monitor and report on child labor in our annual Human Rights Report and Trafficking in Persons Report, and we contribute to the Department of Labor’s annual Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor, the most comprehensive global report on this subject. The United States is committed to continuing its fight to end these practices and protect children around the world.