LONDON – June 12 marks the annual World Day Against Child Labor. We would like to share news of advances in liberating children from this burden that robs them of their childhood, education, and the potential for a thriving future. Sadly, on a global scale, we cannot. Verisk Maplecroft issued their 2019 Child Labor Index. The report revealed that nearly a billion children live in countries where child labor poses an ‘extreme risk.
“Despite high levels of economic growth and improvements in poverty and education, progress on child labor has stalled in the manufacturing countries most entwined with global supply chains.”
What is more, the countries in Asia, South Asia, and Southeast Asia that have become major manufacturing centers have “registered no tangible improvement” in reducing child labor since 2016. Rather, the explosive economic growth in these regions has created a greater demand for the use of child labor.
Oscar Larsson, a human rights data analyst, has observed
“The economic momentum of many countries is yet to trickle down to the poorest in society and any meaningful headway on labor rights issues, including child labor, remains elusive.”
Put in simpler terms, the economic booms these countries are experiencing benefit only the upper echelons of the supply chains, regardless of the products they produce. The economic reality continues to be that the drive for corporate profit and personal profit are the prevailing priorities.
The Child Labor Index covers 198 countries, 27 of which are considered an extreme risk for the children within them to be entrapped in the clutches of child labor.
Aside from North Korea, the country with the greatest risk factor, and Venezuela, the remaining top 10 worst countries for child labor risk are all in Africa.
Verisk Maplecroft utilizes four primary measurements to assess risk on a country-by-country basis.
- The country’s frequency of violations
- The country’s severity of violations
- The country’s adoption of child labor laws
- The country’s ability and will to enforce those laws
The standards offer an interesting insight into dealing with child labor issues. The first two are measurements of occurrences within corporate supply chains where their heart is protecting profitability. The latter two measure a nation’s heart for protecting its children.
The frequency and severity of violations will never abate until and unless the countries in which these abuses occur decide to consider the fate and future of their children of significantly more value than national economic power and prosperity.
Despite altruistic humanitarian comments from corporate and governmental officials, the world system does not operate on kindness and compassion. It operates on economics.
Unfortunately, governments rely on economic growth within their borders for their own success. High and lofty statements will not cure the cyclical conundrum of child labor.
Improved economic growth will supposedly permit governments to better serve the poor, including the children engaged in child labor. However, children are a primary resource for corporations (and governments) to achieve that economic success.
Sadly, the International Labor Organization has already declared that
“The world is unlikely to meet a target of ending child labor by 2025, which is part of the 17 global development goals agreed [upon] in 2015 at the United Nations.”
To read more news on Child Labor on Missions Box, go here.
- Verisk Maplecroft, 2019 Child Labor Index
- Sight Magazine, Millions at risk of child labor in manufacturing hubs, say researchers
- Gospel for Asia, Photo of the Day