Employment and Labour Minister Nxesi formally launches South Africa’s hosting of a global conference to discuss urgent interventions to tackle child labour
05 May 2022

Employment and Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi formally launched the 5th Global Conference on the Elimination of Child Labour which will be held from 15-20 May in South Africa to help find solutions towards the elimination of child labour.

 "The time is therefore opportune for the global community to converge on African soil to find solutions that will help our continent, in particular, to deal with the reported highest prevalence and largest number of working children," Nxesi further said in collaboration with the International Labour Organization (ILO), the Department of Employment and Labour will host the conference for the first time on African soil.

The conference will take place at Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre (ICC) in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal Province. South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa is expected to open the conference. He will share the stage with Southern African Development Community (SADC) chairperson and President of the Republic of Malawi Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera, ILO Director-General Guy Ryder and Argentina President Alberto Ángel Fernández Pérez (virtual).

The Conference will be attended by ILO constituents, international and regional organizations, civil society organizations, research institutions, foundations, individual experts and Nobel laureates.

 "After the devastating natural disaster that befell KwaZulu-Natal and Durban in the last weeks, it is important that we go ahead and hold the Conference in eThekwini as a show of support and solidarity with the people of the province and the Republic of South Africa. As part of that show of solidarity, the conference organisers took a decision to forego the usual social events that characterise these events," the Minister said.

According to the International Labour Organization more than 160 million children are still in child labour around the world. Over one third of them are out of school. Agriculture is said to be the sector that accounts for the largest share of child labour worldwide.

The 5th Global Conference on the Elimination of Child Labour will be taking place amidst the COVID-19 pandemic which is threatening to reverse years of progress. More than 4,000 delegates half of whom will attend in person to discuss good practices, identify gaps and the urgent measures that are needed to help children in child labour.

The ILO conference is in line with Sustainable Development (SDG) Target 8.7 and the International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC) that focuses on the elimination of child labour in all its forms by 2025 and the eradication of forced labour, modern slavery and human trafficking by 2030.

Sustainable Development Goals, calls on all to take immediate and effective measures to eradicate forced labour, end modern slavery and human trafficking and secure the prohibition and elimination of all forms of child labour as an essential step to achieving decent work for all, full and productive employment and inclusive and sustained economic growth.

The ILO describes the term "child labour" as work that deprives children of their childhood, their potential and their dignity, and that is harmful to physical and mental development. It refers to work that: is mentally, physically, socially or morally dangerous and harmful to children; and/or interferes with their schooling.

Department of Employment and Labour Director-General Thobile Lamati said a total of 943 delegates had already confirmed attendance. He said the conference will focus on thematic subjects relating to: education, crises and climate change, social protection, youth employment, financing, agriculture, supply chain, and inequality.

 "In essence the conference is a call to action to eradicate child labour. We do not want this to be a talk shop. We will be working with the ILO to produce a daily outcome document," Lamati said.

ILO Director in South Africa Joni Musabayana said Africa carried the high burden of child labour in the world and the conference had to come with solutions to deal with key drivers. Musabayana said the Durban conference would provide a seminal platform to review road travelled since the past conferences.

Nxesi said conference will close with the adoption of the Durban Call to Action. The Call to Action of Durban on the elimination of child labour, aims at forging a renewed and accelerated commitment between governments and other stakeholders towards the elimination of child labour by 2025.

With only three years left to 2025, many obstacles remain to be overcome, and the Call to Action intends to catalyse national efforts through concrete actions coupled with the monitoring of indicators on child labour to accelerate and keep track of progress towards the achievement of that goal.

 Issued by:

Teboho Thejane

Departmental Spokesperson

082 697 0694/ teboho.thejane@labour.gov.za






Issued by: Department of Employment and Labour