Child labour continues to be a problem of enormous dimensions throughout the world. Tens of millions of children around the world are working in violation of national laws and international standards. Many of them work in extremely hazardous occupations and industries. They are deprived of their childhood and subjected to the worst forms of child labour, slavery, forced or compulsory labour, prostitution, pornography, and other kinds of harmful and unsafe work. The export industry is the most visible sector in which children work, but this type of work represents only 5% of child labour.
In 2001, the Philippines Department of Labour and Employment (DoLE) signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with local government units (LGUs) of Camarines Norte for the elimination of child labour in the province's small-scale mining operations. The LGUs are to receive project financial assistance from the Finnish government worth $482,000 through the International Labour Organisation (ILO). The DoLE would intensify its efforts in the surveillance, rescue and reintegration assistance to child labourers through its Sagip Batang Manggagawa (SBM) project, an interagency quick action team aimed at detecting, monitoring and rescuing child labourers from hazardous and exploitative working conditions. Several other projects are forshadowed as part of the National Programme Against Child Labour (NPACL) and the DoLE is set to formulate this year a national plan of action for 2001-2004 to consolidate the efforts of the NPACL's stakeholders. The plan will seek to reduce the incidence of the worst forms of child labour and ensure the immediate protection, recovery, and reintegration of children engaged in these worst forms of child labour.
India plans to ensure that no children work in dangerous jobs by 2005. It claims to have removed 200,000 children working in hazardous occupations and plans to shift 1.6 million more children by 2005 for which it is preparing an action plan. It estimates a total of 20.25 million child labourers between the ages of five and 14 in India. The government also plans to increase to 57 from 51 the areas in which child labour is prohibited.
The US Department of Labour has committed $2 million in international technical assistance funds, appropriated by Congress for fiscal year 2001, to cooperation with Colombia on areas including elimination of worst forms of child labour. The Bureau of International Labour Affairs will co-ordinate the technical assistance and other activities in collaboration with the International Labour Organisation.
In 2001, the White House announced that the US State Department will handle some $3.3 million in grants to private groups battling the phenomenon while the US Agency for International Development will administer another $600,000. The grants are to go to a variety of organisations, and will support a variety of approaches in order to see what is most effective. These include the establishment of business codes of conduct, workplace monitoring systems, research, and labelling initiatives. In addition, the US Customs Service will issue guidelines that will raise "red flags" that importers can use to determine whether goods are proscribed because they were made with forced or indentured child labour. In doing so, "we will help businesses avoid participating in the exploitation of children and complement our vigorous efforts to enforce the law to keep goods made with forced child labour.
Child labour will never be eliminated until poverty disappears and must be tolerated until world poverty is ended.