Susan Bissell began this briefing by reminding the audience of the 168 million children toiling in child labor or slavery. These crimes deprive children of their right to a protected and healthy childhood and to an education. A great majority of countries have ratified legal frameworks for responsibilities and commitments to children and there is no lack of political commitment to tackle child labor and slavery. There is, however, still a need to challenge cultural norms at national and subnational levels that allow for its continued presence. There is demand by many actors to have stakeholders do more. Bissell recommends that greater data on child slavery be used in order to encourage more effective action.
Mr. Satyarthi added that for every statistic on child labor, there is a cry, and for every figure, a face. This cry is one for freedom; to simply be a child. He believes that we cannot achieve development goals without a strong commitment against child labor. We must dream that every child will achieve primary education instead of being forced into marriage or given guns instead of toys.
There is also a vicious cycle between poverty and child labor–children are preferred as workers because of their low cost. As a result, there must be clear language in the Sustainable Development Goals to combat child labor and slavery. In Mr. Satyarthi’s words, “The number of child laborers has been decreased and it is good news, but we have to work harder. The number of child slaves did not decrease at all. We did not make progress in the most heinous crime against humanity.” To combat child slavery, Satyarthi says we must (1) strengthen the UN system and build belief in multilateralism; (2) address the need for deeper and broader interagency cooperation; and (3) ensure that the UN be proactive rather than reactive.
Meeting: DPI/NGO Special Briefing with 2014 Nobel Laureate
Date & Location: 17 March 2015, ECOSOC Chamber, UN Headquarters, New York
Speakers: Maher Nasser, Moderator, Director, Outreach Division, Department of Public Information; Susan Bissell, Chief of Child Protection, Programme Division, UNICEF; Kailash Satyarthi, 2014 Nobel Peace Prize Winner and Chairperson, Global March Against Child Labor.
Written By WIT Representative: James Victory
Edited by WIT Representative: Philip Bracey