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Costello Leads Call for G20 Leaders to Stop Child Labour

8 April 2014 at 11:38 am
Staff Reporter
A World Vision International report on child labour has prompted a call on G20 decision makers to take action to protect the world’s children from economic exploitation.

Staff Reporter | 8 April 2014 at 11:38 am


Costello Leads Call for G20 Leaders to Stop Child Labour
8 April 2014 at 11:38 am

A World Vision International report on child labour has prompted a call on G20 decision makers to take action to protect the world’s children from economic exploitation.

The report on child labour in Government procurement value chains, entitled Creating markets for child-friendly growth, has revealed that 73 million (44 per cent of total) child labourers are between 5 and 11 years of age.

It comes as the G20 Leaders’ Summit is due to take place in November in Brisbane.

World Vision child labour campaigner Jayakumar Christian, who is in Australia to launch the report  with World Vision Chief Executive Tim Costello, said G20 nations should use their massive purchasing power to end child labour exploitation and build strong, sustained and inclusive economic growth.

Dr Christian said more than 168 million children over the age of five* were currently involved in labour, to the detriment of their development.

“This means one in 10 of the world’s children are working instead of going to school, and working in what can be quite hazardous and intolerable conditions,” Dr Christian said.

“Economies which turn a blind eye to the exploitation of children through labour are condemning individuals, families and communities to a bleak future.

“They are bypassing opportunities to improve job prospects for older youth and adults, depressing adult wages and standing by while tens of millions of children are excluded from developing to their potential.”

Costello, who is Chair of C20 – one of the community consultation groups set up to help shape the agenda for this year’s G20 summit, said the G20 was ideally placed to take coordinated action to influence the market conditions which allow child exploitation to continue.

“Economic growth should never be pursued at the expense of a child’s basic right to a childhood,” Costello said.

The report sets out the need for a common approach to identifying, reporting and addressing child labour in the value chains of the $10 to $15 trillion worth of goods and services that G20 governments are expected to purchase in 2014.

“The massive purchasing power that governments wield when they source goods – everything from hospital food to building supplies – has the potential to create markets for goods which are NOT produced on the back of human rights violations,” Costello said.

Dr Christian said the promotion of inclusive growth that generates secure jobs goes to the heart of the G20 agenda.

“By addressing child labour through G20 public procurement, the world’s largest economies can ensure they are investing in the health and education of the next generation of workers – who right now should be given the opportunity to be children, not breadwinners,” he said.

“With 44 per cent of child labourers between 5 and 11 years of age, world leaders must step up and work cooperatively to ensure human rights, including the rights of children to be protected from economic exploitation, are protected and respected throughout the value chain.”

World Vision International said that while some governments around the world had started to introduce ethical public procurement policies, there was a danger that policies developed in isolation could lead to unworkable complexity and red tape for businesses and public authorities.

The report recommends that the G20 develop and commit to a common approach to labour exploitation in supply chains, which puts the best interests of the child at the forefront of purchasing decisions, and ensures greater clarity and certainty for suppliers and subcontractors.

World Vision International said a constructive relationship between governments, business and NGOs – respecting trade obligations and other international covenants – provided the best opportunity for harmonising and simplifying due diligence and reporting requirements in value chains, while enhancing transparency.

“The G20 can and should work together to create stronger, more resilient economies for the benefit of all, including children,” Costello said.

* International Labour Organization (2013) "Marking Progress Against Child Labour – global estimates and trends 2000-2012", p.15 which says, "child labourers in the 5-17 years age group number 168 million, amounting to almost 11 per cent of all children in this age group".

Click here to view the report.

World Vision International’s Call to G20:

World Vision International asks G20 Leaders to take an important first step in demonstrating their commitment to the world’s vulnerable and exploited children by developing and implementing a common approach to the reform of public procurement policies, which:

  1. Obliges public authorities in G20 countries to introduce eligibility requirements in their  tender processes that ensure that companies take sufficient steps to identify, report and address child labour at every stage of their products’ value chains;
  2. Is grounded in the Protect, Respect, Remedy framework as articulated in the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and General Comment No 16 on State Obligations Regarding the Impact of the Business Sector on Children’s Rights;
  3. Ensures that public authorities follow the example set by existing leading multi-stakeholder initiatives, and address supply chain labour standards issues in a manner that clearly prioritises the best interests of the child, and works with suppliers, with termination of the contractor/supplier relationship used as a last resort; and
  4. Draws on international best practice in relation to the design and implementation of compliance regimes, the exercise of proper due diligence, the verification and monitoring of corporate compliance (including through communication and reporting of performance), and in the handling of complaints.

Staff Reporter  |  Journalist  |  @ProBonoNews


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