Employers stand behind eradication of child labour and forced labour at ILO launch event

Peter Robinson, President and CEO of USCIB and IOE Regional Vice-President for North America, represented employers at an Alliance 8.7 launch of the ILO's Modern Slavery and Child Labour Global Estimates on 19 September 2017, during the UN General Assembly in New York. He provided insight on the position of Employers with regards to Child Labour and Forced Labour on the high-level panel entitled "Harnessing the numbers to accelerate eradication". The event was moderated by Nicholas Kristoff, New York Times columnist and Pulitzer Prize Winner. Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop set the stage for the meeting and a “Call to Action” was provided by Priti Patel, UK Secretary of State for International Development. Other government leaders included Belgium Deputy Prime Minister Alexander de Croo, Argentina’s Deputy Secretary of Foreign Relations Gustavo Zlauvinen, the African Union’s Commissioner for Social Affairs Amira El Fadil, and Martha Newton, the new Deputy Undersecretary for International Affairs of the U.S. Department of Labor. The other participants on the high-level panel were Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, High Commissioner, Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights; Guy Ryder, Director-General, International Labour Organization; Andrew Forrest, Founder, Walk Free Foundation; William L. Swing, Director-General, International Organization on Migration; Shanelle Hall, Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF, and Sharan Burrow, General Secretary, International Trade Union Confederation. Mr. Robinson underlined the continued dedication of Employers to eradicate child labour and forced labour. When asked as the last panelist whether business feels this effort is important, he echoed Foreign Minister Bishop’s opening remarks that these abuses are an “affront to our collective humanity” ‎and that “when business and government work together, we can achieve great things”. He noted the importance of that collaboration in today’s world of complicated global supply chains, where it is very difficult for a company to state categorically that there are no problems all the way down the chain. He said that while the primary responsibility lies with governments, as the crucial eradication factor, to establish and enforce national labor laws, business also has a desire and responsibility to do what it can to respect and follow those laws and looks forward to working with governments and other civil society actors in the shared fight to eliminate child and forced labour. The Global Estimates' data can help us identify the most critical problems where we need to concentrate our resources, and focus on appropriate policy levers where capacity-building needs to be implemented, he said. The new Modern Slavery Global Estimates encompass forced labour and forced marriage and it is the first time such research was conducted. The ILO and the Walk Free Foundation jointly published the new Modern Slavery Global Estimates. Additionally, the new Child Labour estimates will be an update to the Global Estimates on Child Labour published by the ILO in 2012. For more information, please visit the ILO website or contact Ecem Pirler, Junior AdviserThis article is published as a correction.

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