Latin America and the Caribbean Free of Child Labour Regional Initiative

March 17, 2019
Challenge In the last 20 years, the Latin America and the Caribbean region has experienced a long cycle of economic growth and a positive transformation in its efforts to end child labour. The latest ILO global estimates on child labour, however, indicate that the region has 12.5 million children and adolescents in child labour (or 8.6 per cent of the global share), of whom 9.5 million are involved in hazardous work. These indicators also show the present challenge of stagnation: between 2008 and 2011, the incidence of child labour in the region remained almost unchanged, with 8.2 per cent of children in child labour. (–en/index.htm) Towards a Solution In 2013, the Latin America and the Caribbean Free of Child Labour Regional Initiative was created by regional ministers of labour in partnership with ILO. The Initiative aims to channel and scale up public and private efforts to accelerate the pace of reduction of child labour and ultimately eliminate it. It consists of a targeted response, aimed at bringing about the first child-labour-free generation in Latin America and the Caribbean based on a combination of two different types of interventions: preventive for children born from 2010 onwards, in order to break the trajectory towards child labour, and withdrawal of all children in child labour below the legal age of employment and in hazardous and other work that is also among the worst forms of child labour. Countries and stakeholders in the region own the Initiative, which operates through a network of focal points that represents governments and employer and worker associations of the 26 member countries. It also includes a technical secretariat headed by the ILO Regional Office, which is responsible for implementation and monitoring. Both bodies report to a high-level group comprised of the region’s ministers of labour. Because member countries exercise leadership of the Initiative, with ILO as technical secretariat, members of the focal point network have validated every phase of the process. Since 2013, the network has expanded from 12 to 26 member countries. In order to facilitate the exchange of good practices, the virtual platform of the Initiative includes a specific tool that maps South-South cooperation capacities of each country: It is designed specifically to enhance South-South cooperation in priority areas such as education, indigenous communities, agriculture, youth employment, value chains, decentralization, migration, and information technologies, which have the potential to accelerate the pace of reduction of child labour and in which the countries of the region have accumulated capacity and good practices. In its first phase (2013-2015), the Initiative acted as a catalyst, organizing and systematizing high-quality information, based on collective consultations with the 26 members, that previously had not been shared among countries. This process has resulted in fluid, continuous communication channels among countries. Based on this, the countries have prioritized exchanges, for example between Costa Rica and Ecuador, which has resulted in the creation of a business network against child labour in Costa Rica based on the Ecuadorian model. Others have been identified as national priority areas such as agriculture, decentralization, youth employment, value chains, new technologies and indigenous peoples. The innovative feature of this instrument, in line with aid effectiveness and sustainability principles, is that leadership emanates from countries, especially the ministers of labour of the 25 regional members. In addition, the operational part hinges on the focal points network, which includes eight regional representatives of employer and worker organizations, demonstrating the level of ownership of the response. South-South cooperation plays an important role in the sustainability of the Initiative because: (a) it is more cost-effective for countries to replicate a successful and validated model; (b) it builds on a well-documented, systematized database of good practices created through a consultative process; (c) the strategy for exchange is based on high-quality information; (d) the initiative focuses on strengthening of the capacities of the focal points network as a means to bolster and accelerate the response of national stakeholders to combat child labour; (e) the interventions proposed are based on the strengthening of existing programmes and policies and the coordination between them in order to ensure an effective, timely and cost-efficient approach to child-labour prevention and eradication; and (f ) the focal points who are representatives from the responsible institutions and worker and employer organizations exercise leadership of the Initiative. The Initiative provides an excellent platform for scaling up South-South and triangular cooperation projects among member countries and other regions and has the potential for replication in other regions of the world. The conditions for replication include the following:
  • A conducive and strong institutional environment exists at the national level;
  • Child-labour prevention and eradication are a priority in the national and regional policy agendas and legal frameworks;
  • Member countries have a driving force that jump- starts the Initiative and attracts others;
  • Member countries agree on a framework document containing action guidelines that can be adapted during the process; and
  • Sufficient information technology is in place that allows for fluid, continuous communication among countries.
Key partners are the ministries of social development, ministries of education, ministries of economy and finance, and national development cooperation agencies.The Initiative and its technical secretariat closely coordinate with other United Nations organizations through the Regional Inter-agency Group on Child Labour, which is led by ILO and includes UNDP, UNICEF, UNESCO, UNFPA, WHO, FAO and UN-Women. Contact: Technical Secretariat of the Regional Initiative, ILO Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean Project name: Latin America and the Caribbean Free of Child Labour Regional Initiative Countries: Argentina, Bahamas, Bolivia (Plurinational State of ), Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Uruguay, Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of ) Sustainable Development Goal target: 8.7 Supported by: Spanish Agency for Development Cooperation, Junta de Andalucía/Agencia Andaluza de Cooperación Internacional para el Desarrollo, Brazilian Cooperation Agency, ILO Implementing entity: ILO in its capacity as technical secretariat Project status: Ongoing Project period: 2013 to present URL of the practice: Related resources: The virtual platform will be officially launched in June 2016; Facebook; Twitter; Youtube;