On day against child labour, two UN agencies highlight trafficking of youngsters

12 June 2003

Commemorating the second World Day Against Child Labour, two United Nations agencies today drew global attention to an estimated 1.2 million children trafficked each year into domestic servitude, sexual abuse, involuntary marriage and hazardous work.

The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) pointed to estimates that the global trade in human beings is beginning to rival the illicit trafficking of arms and drugs, with a revenue of about $12 billion a year. Unscrupulous traffickers move the children within and across national borders through force, coercion or deception, the International Labour Organization (ILO) said.

“Child trafficking is one of the worst forms of child labour,” ILO stated, adding that an estimated 1.2 million children are trafficked each year into exploitative work in agriculture, mining, factories, armed conflict or commercial sex work.

UNICEF added that children are forced to endure various forms of exploitation, hidden from view and often from legal protection after being lured across borders by promises of a good education or employment. Children are particularly vulnerable as they are seen, by traffickers, as more easily manipulated, on high demand and exploitable over a longer period.

“We can no longer simply look at the worst forms of child labour as a shame. We have to see it as one part of an inhuman and criminal trade that must be stopped,” UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy said. “Courageous leadership is needed from governments, who are primarily accountable for ensuring that child trafficking is criminalized and children are effectively protected from this form of exploitation.”

Efforts to end the worst forms of child labour would not succeed without effective cooperative efforts to fight the trafficking of children and women within and across national borders, UNICEF stressed.

During its annual event to mark the day, ILO is holding a meeting in Geneva on anti-trafficking activities in the Philippines, the Mekong River area in Asia, Africa and the “three border area” of Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay.


♦ Receive daily updates directly in your inbox - Subscribe here to a topic.
♦ Download the UN News app for your iOS or Android devices.