WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Labor today announced the release of the 20th annual edition of the “Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor.” Prepared by the department’s Bureau of International Labor Affairs, the report shines a spotlight on child labor abuses globally and describes progress made by some countries in upholding their international commitments to eliminate these abuses.

The department also released a Better Trade Tool, a new web-based tool that integrates ILAB’s existing List of Goods Produced by Child Labor or Forced Labor with international trade data. The data includes harmonized schedule tariff codes and enables enhanced trade data analysis, supply chain mapping, and identification of risks and priorities in strategic planning to combat child and forced labor. 

Both releases gain special significance during the United Nations’ “International Year for the Elimination of Child Labor,” which highlights the urgency of addressing child labor worldwide.

“As the United Nations marks the ‘International Year for the Elimination of Child Labor,’ the global community must recommit the necessary resources and energy to eliminating child labor,” said Deputy Undersecretary for International Affairs Thea Lee. “Progress made over decades continues to erode, fueled by employer abuses and worsened by the global pandemic. Working together with the global community, the Department of Labor’s Bureau of International Labor Affairs will use our leverage, resources and voice to protect children worldwide.”

For the first time in decades, global progress against child labor has stalled and reversed direction. The International Labor Organization and the U.N.’s Children’s Fund estimate currently that 160 million children toil in child labor, up 8 million since 2016 – accounting for almost one in 10 children worldwide. About 79 million work in conditions likely to harm their health, safety or morals. In Sub-Saharan Africa, children in child labor account for more than the rest of the world combined. Without action, an additional 8.9 million children could end up in child labor by 2022 due to rising poverty driven by the coronavirus pandemic.

The Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor report provides an overview of 131 countries and territories’ child labor situations – including trafficking, debt bondage, forced labor, hazardous work, commercial sexual exploitation and the use of children in armed conflict or illicit activities. The report details how these governments are working to eliminate child labor through legislation, law enforcement, policies and social programs. The report also provides more than 2,200 country-specific recommendations for government action in each of these areas.

In addition to the new report and web tool, ILAB has also updated its smartphone apps: Sweat & Toil, which contains the latest data on goods produced by child labor or forced labor, and on governments’ efforts to address child labor; and Comply Chain, which provides companies guidance on developing and implementing social compliance systems in their global supply chains. In addition to English, French and Spanish, Comply Chain is now available in Malay, a common language across Southeast Asia spoken by nearly 300 million people.

Learn more about ILAB’s work.

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