Labor ministers and ambassadors from India, Brazil, and South Africa (IBSA) joined together on April 19, 2010 in an international panel discussion on child labor at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars hosted by the International Center on Child Labor and Education (ICCLE), the International Advocacy Office of the Global March Against Child Labor, and the Brazil Institute.
Under the broader theme of "Policy Frameworks on Child Labor," the panelists had been asked to review national policy approaches to tackling child labor as a priority in their countries, presenting key government programs and lessons learned in harmonizing policy frameworks to ensure the mainstreaming of the issue across public service provision to reinforce sustainability. It was also expected that discussions would focus on the importance of broad-based awareness activities aimed at the general public and various stakeholder groups.
The event was important from a global strategic point of view as it was being held on the eve of the Global Conference on Child Labor being co-organized from May 10 and 11 by the International Labor Organization (ILO) and the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment of the Netherlands. Panelists included Indian Ambassador to the United States of America Meera Shankar, Minister of Labor of Brazil Carlos Roberto Lupi and the Minister of Labor of South Africa Membathisi Mdladlana.
In reflecting on the forthcoming Global Conference on Child Labor, the three government representatives welcomed the collaboration between the ILO and the Dutch government that led to the organization of this major event. They highlighted its importance in the light of the global economic crisis and the impact this has had on development and humanitarian aid and the diminishing attention of the international community on the elimination and prevention of child labor.
They also expressed the determination of the IBSA countries to assume leading roles in their respective continents to tackle child labor and committed themselves to the development of a shared IBSA process to immediately prepare for the Hague Conference. In addition, they underlined the importance of a joint examination and analysis of the Hague Conference document, the so-called "Roadmap 2016," to ensure that it articulates the aspirations of the IBSA countries and takes into account their significant knowledge, experience and expertise, which would be critical in achieving a world without child labor.
In his closing remarks, panel moderator, Sudhanshu Joshi, director of the ICCLE, expressed his hope that the historic IBSA Labor Ministers panel in Washington, D.C. would lead to the establishment of an IBSA Working Group on Child Labor that would underpin the joint efforts of the these three countries to consider, evaluate and provide inputs into the Hague Conference and Roadmap 2016.
By Sudhanshu Joshi
International Center on Child Labor and Education (ICCLE)