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The International Labour Organization (ILO) launched the World Day Against Child Labour in 2002, and takes place every year on 12 June, to focus attention on the global extent of child labour, and the action and efforts needed to eliminate it. For 2018, the day will focus on the need to end child labour, and to improve the safety and health of young workers as part of a joint global campaign with the World Day for Safety and Health at Work, described together as ‘Generation Safety and Health’. The campaign calls for a number of co-ordinated actions, including to: promote universal ratification and application of key ILO legal instruments on child labour and occupational health and safety; promote integrated strategies to end ‘hazardous’ child labour and address health and safety risks faced by young workers; integrate occupational health and safety into education and vocational training programmes; and address the vulnerabilities of the youngest children and prevent their entry into child labour.

‘Child labour’ refers to work that is “mentally, physically, socially or morally dangerous and harmful to children”; and interferes with their schooling by “depriving them of the opportunity to attend school, obliging them to leave school prematurely or requiring them to attempt to combine school attendance with excessively long and heavy work”. According to the UN, 218 million children worldwide between 5 to 17 years old are in employment and among them, 152 million are victims of child labour. In relation to the type of work they may undertake, the UN states that child labour is “concentrated primarily” in agriculture (71 percent), which includes fishing, forestry, livestock herding and aquaculture, and comprises both subsistence and commercial farming; 17 percent in services; and 12 percent in the industrial sector, including mining.

On 19 September 2017, during the 72nd Meeting of the UN General Assembly, 37 member states and observer states, including the United Kingdom, endorsed a Call to Action to end forced labour, modern slavery and human trafficking. At the summit in End Violence Against Children Solutions Summit in February 2018, Penny Mordaunt, Secretary of State for International Development, stated that “we must strive to ensure that no child, no one, is harmed by the people who are supposed to be there to help” and announced her support by contributing £5 million to the End Violence Against Children partnership, which sees the UK “teaming up with the biggest group of stakeholders […] to keep children safe”.

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