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National Action Plans to fight child labour

When we talk about NAPs, we are referring to National Action Plans: evolving policies by Governments to protect human rights from any adverse impacts of businesses, companies or corporations.

This International Human Rights’ day we are reminded of the instrumental role that NAPs play for the protection and respect of human rights, and the duty State’s and businesses have in the development and implementation of these.

NAPs to eliminate child labour

When talking about child labour elimination, NAPs have a unique and critical role by bridging the gaps to assess national progress, challenges and potential solutions drawing from the public sector, private/industry led initiatives and civil society.

To achieve this NAPs must follow these steps:

    1. NAPs have to be founded on the United Nations Guiding Principles and must reflect the States duties under international human rights law. For NAPs on the elimination of child labour this would often reflect ILO Convention No. 138 on Minimum Age and Convention No. 182 on the Worst Forms of Child Labour.
    1. NAPs must address the specific challenges to human rights that exist, or are a potential risk, to the country and must include measurable indicators on these. For child labour this could include, for example, the number or percentage of children under the age of 14 engage in hazardous work.
    1. “NAPs need to be developed in inclusive and transparent processes”. Civil society, the private sector, public institutions, and other stakeholders should all be supported to participate and engage in the development or update of the NAP.
    1. NAP processes need to regularly be reviewed and updated. They must respond to changing contexts and strive for cumulative progress.

ECLT recognises that NAPs have the potential to bring both far-reaching and long-lasting change for millions of children. In terms of child labour, this means that children are not simply moving from one farm to another to work, or one supply chain to another, but rather be supported by a system designed to incite progress for the entire country.

A time for change in Malawi

In 2020, Malawi released their second National Action Plan for the Elimination of Child labour (NAP II, 2020 – 2025).

To accelerate progress in the elimination of child labour, Malawi’s NAP II takes the best practices identified in the first National Action Plan a step further and focuses on implementation towards achieving the six following objectives.

  • The creation of a conducive legal & policy environment
  • Capacity building for stakeholders engaged in child labour elimination activities
  • Improve awareness of child labour and its impact on development
  • Direct engagement in the prevention, withdrawal and rehabilitation of children involved in child labour
  • Respond and mitigate chronic illnesses associated with child labour
  • Increased surveys for monitoring & evaluation of progress.

For each output, NAP II outlines a system of activities, and allocates a means of monitoring and evaluation, the responsible stakeholder(s) and an annual budget to each of these. Working together to strengthen efforts

Malawi’s NAP II demonstrates a strong commitment to harmonise efforts both in the drafting process and in its guidance for implementation. The Ministry of Labour, Youth, Sports, and Manpower Development play a central role in providing leadership for the coordination of all relevant stakeholders including, other Ministries of the Government of Malawi, NGOs, employers and workers associations, academic institutions, development partners, companies, district councils and communities.

Such cooperation is at the heart of the ILO’s Integrated Strategy to promote decent work and tackle child labour in the tobacco sector in Malawi, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia. Bringing together Governments, Workers’ and Employers’ Organisations, and the private sector to promote strong government policy and multi-stakeholder cooperation, provides a sustainable approach to make sure that no child is falling between the gaps back into child labour.

What’s next?

The Government of Uganda will soon be releasing the country’s latest National Action Plan for the Elimination of Child Labour (2020/2021 – 2024/2025) which will build from the NAP I (2012/2013 – 2016/2017). The Foundation looks forward to sharing further information on this shortly.

ECLT will continue to support National Action Plans in their drafting process, through social dialogue, their implementation and in their reviews as NAPs play a unique and critical role setting nation-wide standards to ensure the elimination of child labour so that no child is left behind.