Principle 2 – deeper understanding

Contribute to the elimination of child labour, including in all business activities and business relationships

Principle 2 calls upon business to respect the International Labour Organization (ILO)’s Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work. 

Importantly, the principle calls on business to contribute to the elimination of child labour. To achieve this end, business should not employ or use children in any type of harmful child labour. Business should also help to find or generate decent work for adult household members, and establish sound age-verification mechanisms throughout its value chain to avoid incidents of child labour. Principle 2 also calls on business to protect children and young people from harmful, hazardous or exploitative work.

Recent statistics show that: 

  • As of 2012, there are an estimated 85.3 million children involved in the worst forms of child labour, which accounts for almost half of all child labourers.

  • Boys outnumber girls in hazardous work (55 million and 30.3 million, respectively).

  • The number of children in hazardous work in the world has fortunately declined by 30 million, from 115.3 million in 2008 to 85.3 million in 2012.

For further reading, download "Global child labour trends 2008 to 2012".

Child labour deprives children of their childhood, their potential and their dignity. It is also harmful to the physical and mental development of children. Recent ILO figures demonstrate that overall child labour has decreased from 246 million to 168 million worldwide from the year 2000. Progress, however, remains very slow, and is falling short of the ILO’s goal of eliminating all the worst forms of child labour by 2016.

There is also the question of children engaged in hazardous work that directly endangers the health, safety and moral development of children. There are approximately 85 million child labourers engaged in hazardous work in the world today. Fortunately, actors from different sectors have aligned to hasten progress in the fight against child labour. Ground-breaking efforts need to be strengthened and expanded to continue this positive trend.