Bärbel Kofler, Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid at the Federal Foreign Office, issued the following statement today (12 June) on today’s World Day Against Child Labour:
Even today, more than 150 million children around the world are victims of child labour. According to estimates by the International Labour Organization, more than half of these children are engaged in the worst and most dangerous forms of labour. Over 36 million of these children are unable to go to school. Children in Africa are worse affected by this scourge than those in any other region of the world; for almost 20 percent of all African children, work instead of education, exploitation instead of protection is a grim reality. On many other continents, however, children are also working under exploitative conditions which pose a risk to their health. We must step up our efforts to achieve the Agenda 2030 goal of eradicating child labour in all its forms worldwide by 2025.
Today’s global supply chains and production pathways are more comprehensive and complex than ever before and exploitative child labour can be found in many sectors, for example in mining, agriculture, as well as the textile, car and electronics industries. As with many other pressing problems of our age, the fight against child labour cannot be won without international cooperation, strong international institutions and multilateral alliances. The International Labour Organization (ILO) as well as the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) are two of the strong partners we support.
Within the scope of both multilateral and bilateral cooperation, the German Government has long since been involved in numerous concrete programmes and projects aimed at creating conditions under which children do not have to work, at strengthening state structures which can combat child labour and at providing education for children and young people. We cannot afford to slacken our efforts.
Countries have a duty to protect children and their rights. During my trips and in talks to promote the protection of human rights around the world, I strongly urge government representatives to live up to this responsibility. However, companies are also responsible for the working conditions in their global supply and value chains. Human rights due diligence, which the German Government expects all companies to carry out, is a key tool for ensuring that children, the most vulnerable members of society in our globalised world, are accorded their rights and protection by taking preventive measures and providing them with assistance. A law on the human rights due diligence of German companies in value chains is therefore needed.
I will continue to do everything in my power to strengthen the protection of children around the world as a key part of foreign, human rights and development policy as well as the humanitarian assistance of the German Government, to improve the protection of children in armed conflicts and to foster the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and other international instruments on children’s rights as well as the protection of children from exploitative child labour.