The hosting of the Fifth International Labour Organisation (ILO) Global Conference on the Elimination of Child Labour will aid KwaZulu-Natal’s effort to recover from the recent deadly floods.
Addressing the media at the launch of the conference on Thursday, Employment and Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi said following the devastating floods that ravaged KwaZulu-Natal in the last few weeks, it is important for the conference to go ahead.
“After the devastating natural disaster that befell KwaZulu-Natal in the last weeks, it is important that we go ahead and hold the conference in eThekwini as a show of support and solidarity with the people of the province and the Republic of South Africa,” he said.
This as preparations are well underway for the conference that is set to take place in Durban, from 15–20 May 2022.
In collaboration with the ILO, the Department of Employment and Labour will host the conference for the first time on African soil.
At least 2500 attendees will be present at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre with more than 5000 people following the proceedings on the virtual platform.
“We are hopeful that the hosting of this conference will bring about the needed occupancy in accommodation establishments, as well as contribute to the greater value chain of the tourism and hospitality sector, especially the meeting and conference venues which were closed for over 18 months during the COVID-19 lockdown period,” the Minister said.
In the spirit of showing solidarity, the Minister said that conference organisers took a decision to forego the usual social events that characterise these events, and donate the savings to support the people of KZN in their reconstruction programme.
The gathering is set to bring together stakeholders from all over the world that will be drawn from governments, labour, business, civil society and international organisations such as the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the World Bank.
The event will assume a hybrid format, which will allow people to participate from wherever they are in the world.
Meanwhile, the global estimates on child labour that were jointly released by the ILO and UNICEF last year show that although there has been some progress in reducing incidences of child labour across the world, the African continent still lags behind other regions.
In line with the commitment of global leaders during the 2019 session of the UN General Assembly to end child labour by 2025, the Minister said that participants will engage, share best practices, advance policies and commit to the elimination of child labour.
He said that the main goal of the conference will be to assess progress toward achieving Goal 8.7 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. The target of Goal 8.7 is to take immediate and effective measures to eradicate forced labour, end modern slavery and human trafficking and secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labour, including recruitment and use of child soldiers, and by 2025 end child labour in all its forms.
“At the end of the conference, it is anticipated that they will adopt a document, entitled the ‘Durban Call for Action’, which will commit everyone to promoting decent work, expanding educational opportunities, promoting universal social protection, and financing child labour elimination,” Nxesi said.
The conference will build on four previous Global Conferences, held in Buenos Aires (2017), Brasilia (2013), The Hague (2010), and Oslo (1997), which raised awareness of the issue, mobilised resources and established a strategic direction for the global movement against child labour.