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ACE co-organized a side event at the 5th Global Conference on the Elimination of Child Labour

Updated: Jul 6, 2023

The 5th Global Conference on the Elimination of Child Labour was organized by the Republic of South Africa, ILO and Alliance 8.7 in Durban between the 15th and 20th of May 2022. ACE co-organized an online side event, “Promoting an Integrated Area-based Approach to the Elimination of Child Labour: A Case of the Child Labour Free Zone in Ghana”, on May 19, and participated in many sessions online despite the time difference.

This blog post includes:

◆Outline of the Conference

The first Global Conference on the Elimination of Child Labour was held in Norway in 1997. Succeeding conferences were held in the Netherlands (2010), Brazil (2013), and Argentina (2017). The 5th conference was scheduled for 2021, but due to COVID-19 it was postponed one year and organized in a hybrid format for the first time.


The conference aimed to UPSCALE, UPSKILL and INTEGRATE for the elimination of child labour by 2025, as targeted in SDG 8.7. The key topics included a human-centered approach, child labour in agriculture, formal economy and decent work, addressing root causes, challenges of COVID-19, the African region, and action-oriented, time-bound commitments.


1,150 delegates from governments, worker organizations, employer organizations, UN agencies, regional organizations, and civil society gathered in Durban and the webcast was viewed by 15,000 people across the globe. The most important feature of the 5th Global Conference was the participation of children. For the first time in its history, child representatives attended the conference and signed the outcome document. In many sessions, children had a platform as speakers.

©️ILO (2022)

◆Major topics

The conference had 54 sessions in total, including 3 plenary sessions, group meetings (governments, employers, and workers), 12 thematic panels, and 24 side events. Major topics are identified as follows:


(1) Approaches to the Elimination of Child Labour

Emphasis was placed on the need for human-centered, rights-based, holistic and integrated, and area-based approaches. As it is known that multiple causes of child labour are intertwined, issues in various fields, such as education, health, and income generation, must be addressed. Tackling root causes and social protection have become a key strategy to eliminate child labour in recent years.


(2) Africa and Child Labour in Agriculture

Africa was the major interest of the 5th Global Conference, as Africa is the only region where child labour has been on the increase, and the Conference was held on the African continent for the first time. Child labour in agriculture accounts for more than 70% of the total number of child labourers, and agriculture serves as an entry point to child labour. Reducing child labour in Africa and in agriculture is key to achieving SDG 8.7.


(4) Supply/Value Chains and the Role of Business

About one out of five sessions were related to child labour and business, and covered topics such as “supply/value chains,” “the role of business,” and “due diligence.” This reflects a global trend, in which the relationship between business and human rights has attracted increasing attention in recent years.


(5) Collaboration

Various forms of collaboration, such as south to south, public and private, cross-institution and shared responsibilities, were taken up as the session topics, since child labour must be addressed in multiple sectors and by multiple stakeholders.


©️ILO (2022)


◆Outcome document: Durban Call to Action on the Elimination of Child Labour

On the last day of the 5th Global onference, The Durban Call to Action was adopted, which included strong commitments to end child labour in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, armed conflicts, and food, humanitarian, and environmental crises.

The Call to Action presented six implementation strategies, for which forty-nine immediate and effective measures to be taken are clearly written. Of particular importance is that the governments are committed to formulating national action plans on the elimination of child labour. This was required for the signatories of the Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention (ILO No. 182), that was universally ratified in 2020, but not all member states have submitted national action plans to the ILO. The ILO intends to create and host a centralized information repository to store national action plans, policies, efforts, and achievements.


◆Side event co-organized by ACE, MELR and JICA

Action against Child Exploitation (ACE), the Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations (MELR), the government of Ghana, and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) co-organized an online side event on the 5th day of the World Conference, under the title, “Promoting an Integrated Area-based Approach to the Elimination of Child Labour: A Case of the Child Labour Free Zone in Ghana.” The speakers were from Durban, Switzerland and Japan, and around sixty people in the world participated in the side event.

Ghana is the second largest producer of cocoa after Cote d’Ivoire, and it is reported that 770,000 children are working in the cocoa production. ACE started the Smile Ghana Project in cocoa production areas in 2009 and has rescued 555 children from child labour and supported the education of approximately 4,500 children. Efforts have included: awareness raising, monitoring conducted by community people, improvement of school environments, technical assistance to cocoa farmers, etc.


The Government of Ghana formulated National Action Plans on the Elimination of Child Labour, which include the establishment of the Child Labour Free Zones (CLFZs). To promote CLFZs, ACE supported the development of the Protocols and Guidelines for Establishing Child Labour Free Zones (CLFZs) in 2020, and has conducted a JICA-sponsored research project which examined the feasibility of the CLFZ system.


At the event, we shared experiences developing and implementing the Child Labour Free Zone system in Ghana through multi-stakeholder collaboration, and discussed the possibilities of the area-based approach as a solution to eliminating child labour particularly in countries where child labour is prevalent in agriculture.



Speaker: Mr. Peter Antwi, Deputy Director/Focal Person on Child Labour, Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations (MELR), Ghana


“The Government of Ghana is committed to the fight against child labour. It instituted the National Plan of Action Phase II (NPA2) for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour in Ghana (2017–2021) and has implemented national programs. Promoting Child Labour Free Zones (CLFZs) is one of its key actions.”


The Government of Ghana formulated “The National Plan of Action Phase II (NPA2) for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour in Ghana (2017–2021).” One of the key implementation plans was to establish the Child Labour Free Zone (CLFZ) system, for which the Government developed the “Establishing Child Labour Free Zones (CLFZs) in Ghana: Protocols and Guidelines” in 2020.

The CLFZ system adopts an integrated area-based approach, in which conditions for the elimination of all forms of child labour are identified, and sustainable efforts are made in a given geographical area by local government authorities, local communities, and relevant stakeholders in collaboration. A CLFZ is considered to have been created when a common set of standards provided by the Protocols and Guidelines are met. For example, measures are taken to ensure children’s rights, welfare, education, and the prevention of child labour.

To assess and monitor the development, data are collected through observations and interviews. As a result, in CLFZs, the incidence of child labour are at the bare minimum, i.e., less than 5% of the child population.



Speaker: Ms. Tomoko Shiroki, Vice President/Co-Founder of Action against Child Exploitation (ACE)



“The CLFZ system, which adopts an integrated area-based approach, is effective in addressing all forms of child labour, going beyond supply chains."



Action against Child Exploitation (ACE) provided support to develop “The Establishing Child Labour Free Zones (CLFZs) in Ghana: Protocols and Guidelines,” and started conducting a study project commissioned by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

The purpose of the project is to examine the feasibility of the CLFZ Guidelines. The project has elements of action-research in two cocoa production districts and includes pilot activities to review the current situation of child labour and explore issues to strengthen the existing structures at community, local, and national government levels.

Local governments and communities collect information, using eight main indicators including awareness, monitoring, education, social protection, and functioning of local governments.

Four major findings are as follows:

  1. Standardized CLFZ indicators are useful, because it becomes clear to people what actions need by analyzing the gap between the current and ideal situations.

  2. An integrated area-based approach is effective because all forms of child labour can be addressed in certain areas, going beyond supply chains.

  3. Awareness is not enough, and action can bring about change. A Community Child Protection Committee (CCPC) was formed and provided with monitoring-capacity building training. It identifies child labour and at-risk cases and enrolls out-of-school children in school. In 21 project communities in two districts, the CCPCs discussed with families of child labourers and out-of-school children and made it possible for these children to go to school in 101 out of 194 cases (52%) within only two months. For the rest of the cases, it is still necessary to provide educational support to children to return to school and economic support to their families.

  4. Harmonizing existing systems/programs from the public and private sector, NGOs and social partners is key to establishing CLFZs.

Although it is necessary to refine procedures for CLFZs and formulate strategies to scale up CLFZs, CLFZs are a useful framework to tackle child labour by multi-sector interventions through multi-stakeholder collaboration.



Speaker: Mr. Chigiru Yamashita, Senior Deputy Director of the Law and Justice Team, Governance Group, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA)




“Towards a Child Labour Free Zone,

Child Labour Free Ghana, and a Child Labour Free World!”



The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) is a Japanese ODA Executing Agency. JICA has provided support for the formulation of the “Establishing Child Labour Free Zones (CLFZs) in Ghana: Protocols and Guidelines,” and the implementation of the study project on CLFZs in Ghana. It is very important to strengthen the coordination and collaboration mechanisms among stakeholders at the district and national levels, as well as the sustainability of the system, to eliminate child labour. The CLFZ system has the potential for various stakeholders to work together by coordinating a variety of initiatives.

JICA also established the Platform for Sustainable Cocoa in Developing Countries in 2020 to contribute to realizing socially, economically, and environmentally sustainable cocoa production, which consists of businesses, NGOs, lawyers, and others in Japan. It has collaborated with international partners, such as the ILO, the World Cocoa Foundation and Sustainable Cocoa Platforms in other countries.

JICA will keep working “Towards a Child Labour Free Zone, a Child Labour Free Ghana, and a Child Labour Free World!”



Commentator: Mr. Andrews Addoquaye Tagoe, Deputy General Secretary of Head of Rural Workers’ Organization Programme at the General Agricultural Workers’ Union (GAWU) of the Ghana Trades Union Congress



“Implementation of the CLFZ system is a key strategy of the trade union for ‘CHILD LABOUR AWAY!’”




The General Agricultural Workers’ Union (GAWU) of the Ghana Trades Union Congress considers the implementation of CLFZs as its key strategy and engages in the “Torkor Model” of CLFZ. It promotes decent work for adults and eliminates all forms of child labour in cocoa and tobacco production, fishing, and other industries. Existing community systems are used for monitoring child labour. It is important to empower communities to solve problems by themselves, and facilitate collaboration with various stakeholders, such as agricultural cooperatives, churches, and local governments.

At this conference, many participants are interested in the CLFZ system. Please visit the Ghanian government’s website for more details.



Commentator: Ms. Sophie Tüllmann, Scientific Collaborator at the Swiss Platform for Sustainable Cocoa (SWISSCO)


“Expect the CLFZ approach to accelerate actions aimed at ending the worst forms of child labour and forced labour in the cocoa value chain, by providing a systemic and area-based solution for stakeholders from different sectors to bundle their efforts.”



The Swiss Platform for Sustainable Cocoa (SWISSCO), a multi-stakeholder initiative, was created in 2017 and currently has 74 members, including major multi-national companies. In 2021, SWISSCO launched the SWISSCO Roadmap 2030 “Tackling Challenges Together,” aiming among other goals, to bundle efforts to end the worst forms of child labour and forced labour in the cocoa value chain.

It favors holistic approaches, which include the use of the Child Labour Monitoring and Remediation System (CLMRS), community development programs, and human rights due diligence processes. Only through shared responsibilities and involvement of the relevant public and private stakeholders and the development of economic prosperity in rural areas is the elimination of child labour achievable.

The CLFZ approach provides a systemic, area-based solution for stakeholders from different sectors to be united and can accelerate actions.

Ownership, public-private and cross-sectoral collaboration, shared responsibilities, and transparent communication are key factors for success.



Moderator: Ms. Yuka Iwatsuki, President/Co-Founder of Action against Child Exploitation (ACE)



"ACE, MELR and JICA share our experience from the establishment of the CLFZ system which adopts an area-based approach in the cocoa production areas in Ghana. "





The side event was a one-hour session. We did not have time for Q&A, but had questions and comments via chat. Some of the comments are as follows:

“I think the CLFZ system is very effective.”

“I am very interested in the way of monitoring. It is important to address child labour, expecting multiplicative effects. I look forward to scaling up the CLFZ system.”



It is imperative to reduce child labour in Africa and in agriculture to achieve SDG 8.7 by 2025. As the outcome document, the Durban Call to Action, recognizes “... the importance of using multi-stakeholder, whole-of-supply chain approaches and integrated area-based approaches ...” (27) in the forty-nine immediate and effective measures, we felt the potential of the CLFZ system which adopts an integrated area-based approach. We also received congratulations on the success of our challenge: ACE organized a side event at the Global Conference on the Elimination of Child Labour for the first time.


We will continue our efforts to end child labour in Ghana, India, and Japan, and to make contributions to other parts of the world by sharing our experience.


We appreciate your support.

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