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"Nearly 1 in 10 children are subjected to child labour worldwide, with some forced into hazardous work through trafficking." - UNICEF

Children may be driven into work for various reasons. Most often, child labour occurs when families face financial hardship or uncertainty – whether due to poverty, sudden illness of a caregiver, or job loss of a primary wage earner.

The consequences are staggering. Child labour can result in bodily and mental harm, even death. It often involves economic exploitation. And, in many cases, it cuts children off from schooling, restricts their fundamental rights and threatens their futures.

Worst Forms of Child Labour (WFCL), a subset of child labour, is work carried out by children below the age of 18 years old that could harm “the health safety or morals of children.” (ILO Convention No. 182)


Child Labour

Latest Research

Addressing Root Causes: Private Sector Impacts on Child Labour Outcomes (2024)

When one considers that unlawful child labour is a desperate economic act, then, by extension, markets and its actors are inevitably involved. Which brings us to the oversized role that companies bring to the equation, and their enormous influence on the root causes of child labour, for better or for worse.

This paper takes a stab at the big economic picture: We start by mapping the interactions between firms, households, and children, before advancing 74 practices that companies should implement if they were serious about tackling the root causes of child labour. We also put forward a 4-point checklist for the responsible nano dis-engagement of exploitative actors in the space.

EU Imports Associated with Child Labour

What is the value of EU imports associated with child labour?  And what are the policy options — leveraging Europe's collective purchasing power — to constructively engage exporting countries on this issue?  These were the key questions that MEP Saskia Bricmont and economist Olivier Derruine of The Greens/EFA Group entrusted us to answer.

The novelty of this study is that we used Basu's child labour model to build an economic case for responsible intervention on child labour, and further operationalised Basu's model to designate zone-specific interventions based on the particular socio-economic development of the country. In order to gauge the value of the EU’s exposure to imported goods produced with child labour — a value not previously estimated — we developed an ex-novo method that combined US lists of products associated with child labour + EU trade database + new ILO child labour added value figures per region. Here our study and here the companion app.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has been called the Saudi Arabia of the electric vehicle age, home to the majority of the world's cobalt reserves. Yet need we usher in the e-mobility revolution, and with it the low carbon era, at the expense of human rights? Our report picks up where Amnesty's "THIS IS WHAT WE DIE FOR" left off, and a few years later asks what Cobalt refiners are doing in the way of child labour due diligence in accordance with the OECD and CCCMC guidance.

Child Labour in Ghana and Côte d'Ivoire 

DI researchers have worked on the issue of child labour notably since October 2006, when the Payson Center for International Development at Tulane University was awarded the USDOL-funded "Oversight of Public and Private Initiatives to Eliminate the Worst Forms of Child Labor in the Cocoa Sector in Cote d'Ivoire and Ghana" project to evaluate corporate compliance with the Harkin-Engel Protocol

By undertaking population-based surveys and assessing intervention outcomes, our findings revealed the extent to which progress was made towards the elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour (WFCL) and Forced Adult Labor (FAL) in the cocoa sector of Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana (described in great detail in annual reports made to U.S. Congress). As a part of this work, DI team members also carried out a snowball survey in Burkina Faso and Mali in 2009 to address the issue of migration and trafficking of children to the cocoa sector (see 4th Annual Report). 

Among the multitude of interventions to address child labour, one of the responses to the practice has been the institution of child labor monitoring (CLM). Chris Bayer's dissertation provides an empirical view of how it was possible for a cocoa-producing community in Ghana, employing a child labor monitoring system, to address the entrenched practice of child labour.

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