The UN Forum is the world’s largest event on business and human rights. The 5th annual forum, held in Geneva from 14-16 November, brought together over 2,000 participants from government, business, civil society, law firms, UN agencies, trade unions, academia and the media. This year’s Forum saw an increase in business presence and participation, according to organisers, with almost 25% of attendees from the private sector and many as panelists.
Sharing diverse experiences against child labour
In addition to attending the Forum, the ECLT Foundation, along with the Permanent Missions to the UN of Canada and Malawi, hosted a side event on “Securing Multi-Stakeholder Commitments Towards Eliminating Child Labour” – the only event specifically addressing child labour or children’s issues during the Forum. It was an opportunity to contribute to the Human Rights Council’s greater body of knowledge, by sharing concrete examples of effective multi-stakeholder approaches in the fight against child labour in agriculture.
Discussions allowed the ECLT Foundation to highlight the importance of Social Dialogue in the fight against child labour and to share perspectives and good practices across several sectors, including tobacco, fishing and rubber. Tri-partite panelists included, Hon. Patrick Okello, Labour Commissioner, Government of Uganda; Andrews Addoquaye Tagoe, General Agricultural Workers' Union of Ghana (GAWU); and Antoine Marty, Confédération générale des entreprises de Côte d'Ivoire (CGECI). Nicholas McCoy described the work of the ECLT Foundation, and co-moderated the panel, along with Sonia Velazquez.
Experiences shared by the ECLT Foundation reflected the recognition that child labour is a cross-cutting issue and requires cross-cutting solutions in order to sustain these efforts. For ECLT, supporting Social Dialogue through the support of national and district conferences on child labour in agriculture has become a primary vehicle and proven platform for effecting sustainable change.
Engagement and partnerships across sectors is increasingly recognised as crucial for upholding human rights and is enshrined in the SDGs. The ECLT Pledge of Commitment, which provides a sector-wide framework to align, reinforce and, where necessary, expand current policies and practices in addressing child labour in tobacco growing, is a prime example of how the private sector can take steps to integrate human rights into business practices. The UN Forum is a place for the ECLT Foundation and members to reflect on concrete steps towards realisation of the Pledge and look at collaborative and sustainable ways forward.