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Statement by Kelly Razzouk on Agenda Item 65 – Rights of the Child

Statement delivered to the UN’s Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian & Cultural Affairs) on Item 65 – Rights of the Child, during the 66th meeting of the United Nations General Assembly.

The United States welcomes this opportunity to discuss the pressing issues facing the children of our own country and children around the world. Although many gains have been achieved, it is unacceptable that in 2011 children still live in fear of violence, abuse, exploitation and neglect. The United States views with deep concern the continuing reports of children being killed, maimed, raped, sexually abused, forced to bear arms as unlawful child soldiers, forced into sexual slavery, and used for exploitative labor purposes.

The focus of many child-oriented initiatives in the General Assembly and Human Rights Council has rightly been on preventing and protecting against the violence, abuse, and exploitation of children.

A little over a decade ago, the General Assembly convened a special session on children to review the progress since the 1990 World Summit for Children. Out of this session came the document entitled “A World Fit for Children,” which called attention to several issues facing children around the world. These included providing access to education, health and nutrition, as well as protection from violence, abuse, and exploitation. Over the past decade, the United States has implemented several national reforms to strengthen our own efforts to address these problems.

In the United States, an extensive network of federal, state, and local programs protect children on varied issues such as child pornography, commercial sexual exploitation of children, forced child labor, and to promote access to health care, foster care, and education.

In 2009, President Obama signed the Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act, which provided substantial resources to states and territories to strengthen their existing programs and extend coverage to an estimated 11 million children.

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires public schools to make available to all eligible children with disabilities a free appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment suited to their individual needs. Additionally, the Teacher Education Assistance for College and Education (TEACH) Grant Program helps fund the education of individuals pursuing undergraduate and master’s degrees that will prepare them to teach in high-need fields at schools that serve low-income families. These teachers commit to working in identified high-need fields, including working to teach students with disabilities, bilingual or non-English speaking students, or those students struggling with science and math.

The United States agrees with the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence against Children that “education has a unique potential to create a positive environment.” We are committed to providing equal educational opportunities to all children, regardless of their individual circumstances, race, national origin, ethnicity, sex, or disability and call on all states to enforce their laws and to meet their international legal obligations to protect children and promote the rights of the child.

The United States appreciates the on-going discussions of the rights of the child, and thanks the many UN bodies and independent experts who have contributed to the debate through reports and interactive dialogues. We consider the theme for this year’s right of the child resolution, “children with disabilities,” especially important. The United States is proud of its record in promoting the welfare of children domestically and internationally, and hopes to continue to work closely with the international community to further strengthen the protection of all our children.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman

 


A Labor Day Message from Special Representative Shailor

Families across the United States are gathering together to celebrate Labor Day this weekend – a time honored tradition that we’ve set aside for over a century – to remember the contributions of workers.

The cookouts, parades, and end of summer rituals are unique ways that we celebrate this very American holiday. But the recognition of working people – be it in May or September – through a holiday and tradition devoted to no particular gender, individual, battle, group, or saint is also unique. It is a holiday we all share.

It has only been six months since the world witnessed the remarkable transformations taking place in the Middle East. The self-immolation of a Tunisian street vendor, who was concerned about not being able to feed his family, has resonated with workers everywhere. Workers, in countries as different from one another as one could imagine, are speaking up for decent wages, social justice and a political and economic voice in their daily lives. Clearly, dignity at work is a universal aspiration.

And as the financial crisis of the last three years has shown, the stability of global economy still poses enormous challenges. An economic crisis in one country can be felt on factory floors half a world away. Much of the world is still experiencing continuing high employment, lack of jobs for young people, discrimination towards women and growing disenfranchisement among migrant workers and refugees.

As workers take advantage of greater political space and start to speak up for better wages, equality, job stability, and the right to form their own independent organizations – our labor office at the State Department will support the “voice of the street” and work to strengthen respect for labor rights as human rights in our policies and programs.

Secretary Clinton captured this focus perfectly in her speech on Development in the 21st Century when she said

We cannot build a stable, global economy when hundreds of millions of workers and families find themselves on the wrong side of globalization, cut off from markets and out of reach of modern technologies… And we cannot advance democracy and human rights when hunger and poverty threaten to undermine the good governance and rule of law needed to make those rights real.

This is why our efforts to promote labor diplomacy are focused on ensuring that the global economy is working for everyone. This includes advocating for dignity at work and recognizing that honest labor, fairly compensated, gives meaning and structure to people’s lives and enables every family and all children to rise as far as their talents will take them.

Honoring our values – working to end to discrimination, an end to forced and child labor, and recognizing the right of people to organize and bargain in a civil and peaceful way. These are not just labor rights, they are human rights.

Today — to each and every one of you and to your families on labor day, I wish you the best as we work towards a more prosperous and peaceful world.

 


Statement by the President on World Day Against Child Labor

Childhood is a time that should be spent in classrooms and on playgrounds, but for 215 million children around the world, it is a time spent working, often in dangerous and deplorable conditions. And while reports indicate that child labor continues to decline, much work remains to be done. 

I applaud my Secretary of Labor, Hilda Solis, who has helped increase our efforts to address child labor abroad and here at home.  My Administration is committing $60 million this year to support efforts to reduce child labor around the world.    The Department of Labor has also taken steps to improve protections for child workers in the United States, and we have dramatically increased our child labor law enforcement efforts.  And this week the Department of State and the Department of Labor jointly hosted a conference on child labor that demonstrated our intention to take a whole of government approach to this issue.  Participants from multiple federal agencies and the National Security Council, alongside NGOs and multilateral organizations, all reaffirmed a commitment to take action against child labor in the year ahead.  We must address the root causes of child labor by ensuring access to education for all children and helping families to secure sustainable livelihoods and to overcome the poverty that contributes to child labor.  On this World Day Against Child Labor, all of us must recommit ourselves to creating a world where our children have a brighter future, free of exploitive labor.

 


Secretary Clinton: Remarks to the Working Together to Combat Child Labor Conference

Hello everyone. Thank you for coming today to this joint conference hosted by the Departments of State and Labor. I especially want to thank you for your work to better the lives of children and families across the globe because the exploitation of children anywhere should be a concern to people everywhere.

As the global community marks World Day Against Child Labor this week, we in the United States must take stock of the progress made and the challenges that lie ahead. Ten years ago, we became one of the first countries to ratify the International Labor Organization’s convention on the Worst Forms of Child Labor, and we remain committed to ending child exploitation – including child soldiering, child trafficking, and any work that harms the health, safety, or morals of children.

The problem of child labor may be entrenched but it is also solvable. And working together, we can provide families across the world with meaningful alternatives to child labor and by doing that we address the root causes – including inequality, inadequate access to education, a lack of decent work for parents, poor enforcement of labor laws – all of which perpetuate the cycle of poverty.

Ending labor exploitation is our shared responsibility because every child born into this world deserves the opportunity to achieve his or her God-given potential. So thank you again for your work on this important issue and I give you my very best wishes that this will be a productive conference.

 


Notice of Final Determination Updating the List of Products Requiring Federal Contractor Certification as to Forced or Indentured Child Labor Pursuant to Executive Order 13126

Click here for a PDF version of this article.

DEPARTMENT OF LABOR

Office of the Secretary of Labor

Notice of Final Determination Updating the List of Products
Requiring Federal Contractor Certification as to Forced or Indentured
Child Labor Pursuant to Executive Order 13126

AGENCY: Bureau of International Labor Affairs, Labor.

ACTION: Notice of final determination.

———————————————————————–

SUMMARY: This final determination updates the list required by
Executive Order No. 13126 (“Prohibition of Acquisition of Products
Produced by Forced or Indentured Child Labor”), in accordance with the
“Procedural Guidelines for the Maintenance of the List of Products
Requiring Federal Contractor Certification as to Forced or Indentured
Child Labor.” This notice sets forth an updated list of products, by
country of origin, which the Departments of Labor, State and Homeland
Security, have a reasonable basis to believe might have been mined,
produced, or manufactured by forced or indentured child labor. Under a
final rule by the Federal Acquisition Regulatory Council, published
January 18, 2001, which also implements Executive Order No. 13126,
Federal contractors who supply products on this list are required to
certify, among other things, that they have made a good faith effort to
determine whether forced or indentured child labor was used to produce
the item.

DATES: This document is effective immediately upon publication of this
notice.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

I. Background

    Executive Order No. 13126 (EO 13126), which was published in the
Federal Register on June 16, 1999 (64 FR 32383), declared that it was
“the policy of the United States Government * * * that the executive
agencies shall take appropriate actions to enforce the laws prohibiting
the manufacture or importation of good, wares, articles, and
merchandise mined, produced or manufactured wholly or in part by forced
or indentured child labor.” Pursuant to EO13126, and following public
notice and comment, the Department of Labor published in the January
18, 2001, Federal Register, a final list of products (the “EO List”),
identified by their country of origin, that the Department, in
consultation and cooperation with the Departments of State and Treasury
[relevant responsibilities now within the Department of Homeland
Security], had a reasonable basis to believe might have been mined,
produced or manufactured with forced or indentured child labor (66 FR
5353). In addition to the List, the Department also published on
January 18, 2001, “Procedural Guidelines for Maintenance of the List
of Products Requiring Federal Contractor Certification as to Forced or
Indentured Child Labor” (Procedural Guidelines), which provide for
maintaining, reviewing, and, as appropriate, revising the EO List (66
FR 5351). On September 11, 2009, in consultation and cooperation with
the Department of State and the Department of Homeland Security, the
Department of Labor published an initial determination proposing to
update the EO List in the Federal Register (74 FR 46794), explained how
the initial determination was made, and invited public comment through
December 10, 2009. The initial determination and Procedural Guidelines
can be accessed on the Internet at http://www.dol.gov/ILAB/regs/
eo13126/main.htm
or can be obtained from: OCFT, Bureau of International
Labor Affairs, Room S-5317, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution
Avenue, NW., Washington, DC 20210; telephone: (202) 693-4843; fax (202)
693-4830.
    Pursuant to section 3 of E. O. 13126, the Federal Acquisition
Regulatory Councils published a final rule in the Federal Register on
January 18, 2001, providing, amongst other requirements, that Federal
contractors who supply products that appear on the EO List issued by
the Department of Labor must certify to the contracting officer that
the contractor, or, in the case of an incorporated contractor, a
responsible official of the contractor, has made a good faith effort to
determine whether forced or indentured child labor was used to mine,
produce or manufacture any product furnished under the contract and
that, on the basis of those efforts, the contractor is unaware of any
such use of child labor. See 48 CFR Subpart 22.15.

II. Summary and Discussion of Significant Comments

    Forty three public comments were received either through written
submissions or through meetings held with the Department of Labor. All
comments are available for public viewing at http://www.regulations.gov

[[Page 42165]]

(reference Docket ID No. DOL-2009-0002). In developing the final list
of products, the public comments have been carefully reviewed and
considered. The following is a summary of the significant or common
comments and the responses.

A. Comments Asserting That Forced Child Labor Is Not Used in the
Production of Products Named on the List

    Multiple comments were received asserting that child labor and
forced or indentured child labor did not exist or were not pervasive in
the production of a variety of products. However, these assertions were
not substantiated through the provision of data or information to
demonstrate that the assertions were true. When analyzing comments, the
information provided was reviewed to determine if it negated the
original conclusion published in the initial determination or if it
demonstrated that forced or indentured child labor has been
significantly reduced or eliminated. In all cases, except carpets from
India (see below), such information was not provided.

B. Comments on Efforts To Combat Forced or Indentured Child Labor

    Multiple comments from governments and industry groups were
submitted that provided detailed descriptions of legislation, policies
and efforts to combat child labor and forced or indentured child labor
generally, and in some cases, in particular sectors. This information
was considered carefully and, while the important role of setting a
solid legislative and policy framework and implementing initiatives by
governments, industry and third party groups is clear, information on
such efforts alone, without evidence that indicates that the efforts
had significantly reduced or eliminated forced or indentured child
labor, was not sufficient to remove an item from the EO List. Inclusion
on the EO List indicates that the three Departments have a reasonable
basis to believe forced or indentured child labor “might have” been
used in the production of the named products and evidence of efforts
alone would not be enough to require removal of a product from the EO
List. The Department of Labor will continue to assess the progress of
these efforts and welcomes further information from the public on the
results of these efforts, in particular, evidence of actions and
initiatives that have significantly reduced if not eliminated forced or
indentured child labor in the production of a specific product named on
the list.

C. Comments on Monitoring and Auditing Systems

    Multiple comments were received describing efforts by government,
industry and third parties to monitor and audit the establishments that
produce many of the products named on the preliminary list. While such
information is important and valuable in determining compliance with a
variety of labor and other standards, in most cases, the information
received did not provide sufficient description, data or evidence to
demonstrate that forced child labor is not being used in the production
process. Examples of specific limitations of the information received
included, submission of general and broad statements describing
monitoring and auditing programs without including details; submissions
only related to products that are inspected for export rather than
industry as a whole; examples of individual monitoring and auditing
forms without presentation of and analysis of overall data collected;
presentation of information only at the primary factory level and not
down the supply chain; and lack of evidence of explicit monitoring for
forced or indentured child labor. It is important to clarify that the
EO List does not make distinctions between products that are exported
or those that are produced for domestic consumption, nor does it
distinguish between products produced in a main/final establishment
versus products produced by suppliers and contractors further down the
supply chain.
    One submission did provide information that addressed many of the
limitations described above. This submission described the nation-wide,
third party monitoring of registered carpet looms in India, gave
details of the monitoring program of registered looms and provided
detailed analysis of data results related to child labor. Such detailed
information on the monitoring of registered looms provided an analysis
suggesting that child labor, including forced child labor, has been
significantly reduced in the production of carpets in India. While the
submission only addressed registered looms, it provided enough
information to warrant further consideration of the matter especially
given that a Department of Labor contractor is undertaking extensive
research on child and forced labor in carpet production in South Asia,
including India. The Department expects to receive information on the
use of forced child labor on both registered and unregistered looms
through this research and intends to wait until that time before a
final decision is made on adding carpets from India to the EO List.

D. Comments on Procedures Related to Publication of the List

    A variety of comments were received related to the methodology and
process used to place products on the EO List, in particular on the
date and reliability of sources, on the “reasonable basis to believe”
criteria, and on the lack of perceived consultation prior to
publication of the initial determination proposing to update EO List.
Concerning the date and reliability of the sources, the Department of
Labor considered information up to seven years old at the time of
receipt. More current information has been generally given priority,
and information older than seven years generally has not been
considered, with the exception of child labor survey data, which the
Department of Labor has found to be reliable over a longer period of
time. The Department of Labor’s experience is that the use of forced or
indentured child labor in a country or in the production of a
particular product typically persists for many years, particularly when
no meaningful action is taken to combat it. Information about such
exploitive activities is often actively concealed and therefore
information that is several years old can still provide useful context
for more current information. When determining whether a source should
be included, the following factors were considered either from primary
or secondary sources: the methodology, prior publications, degree of
familiarity and experience with international labor standards, and/or
reputation for accuracy and objectivity.
    Some submissions raised concern that the “reasonable basis to
believe” standard is relatively low. This standard was established in
EO13126 and the Department believes that the standard is appropriate
given the nature of the EO List and the challenge in finding data. The
EO List does not reflect a determination that forced or indentured
child labor actually was used to produce a particular product. Rather,
it establishes the need for further inquiry by a Federal contractor who
wishes to supply the product, in order to make sure that forced or
indentured child labor was not, in fact, used. The factors consider in
determining whether a “reasonable basis to believe” exists for the
inclusion of a product on the EO List are set forth in the Department
of Labor’s January 18, 2001, Procedural Guidelines (66 FR 5351), as
well as the Department’s September 11, 2009,

[[Page 42166]]

Notice of Initial Determination (74 FR 46794).
    Several submissions from both governments and industry groups
described their frustration at not being consulted prior to publication
of the initial determination on September 11, 2009. EO13126 does not
require the Department to engage in such consultations, although the
Department did undertake a series of activities to gather information
from the public on child labor and forced labor more broadly prior to
publication of the initial determination, including a public request
for information published in the Federal Register and a public hearing
on May 28, 2008. Additionally, the primary purpose of the initial
determination proposing to update the EO List and the accompanying 90-
day public comment period was to gather additional information from the
public and a wide variety of stakeholders prior to publication of the
final determination.

E. Comments Related to Impact of the List on Industries and Exports

    Some comments raised concerns that being named on the EO List would
negatively affect their trade and export income. It is important to
note that while the scope of the EO List is global, the application of
EO13126′s requirements is narrow. The EO only affects products being
procured by the U.S. Government. It is designed to make sure that U.S.
Federal agencies do not buy products made with forced or indentured
child labor. The EO reinforces the current law (the Tariff Act of 1930,
19 U.S.C. 1307, enforced by the Department of Homeland Security)
prohibition on the import of products made with forced or indentured
child labor. There is nothing in the EO that provides for trade
sanctions or penalties against countries. Rather, EO13126 requires U.S.
Federal contractors who furnish a product on the EO List to certify
that forced or indentured child labor was not used to make the product.

F. Comments on Discrepancies Between the 2001 List and the Current List

    Several comments noted that products are included in the proposed
update to the EO List that were not included in the existing EO List,
most specifically carpets from India, Nepal and Pakistan. The research
for the current proposed update to the EO List covers information
published from 2001 onward, which includes information not available at
the time of the publication of the 2001 EO List. Therefore, the product
lists will not necessarily be the same as the period of review and
available data sources are different.

G. Comments Related to the Trafficking Victims Protection
Reauthorization Act List of Goods Made With Child Labor or Forced Labor

    Multiple submissions included information that addressed goods
named on the List of Goods Made with Child Labor or Forced Labor
pursuant to the 2005 Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act
(TVPRA List), which was published on the same date as the proposed
update to the EO List. The Department would like to clarify that these
two lists are produced under separate mandates and the public comment
period identified for submissions relevant to the EO List initial
determination did not apply to the TVPRA List. EO13126 is intended to
ensure that Federal agencies enforce laws relating to forced or
indentured child labor in the procurement process. Thus, the EO List
differs from the TVPRA List, which is intended to promote efforts to
monitor and combat forced labor and child labor in the production of
goods in foreign countries. The EO on Federal procurement applies only
to the goods on the EO List, not to those on the TVPRA List. In
addition, the EO List covers forced or indentured child labor, while
the TVPRA List focuses on a broader population, including adults in
forced labor and children in exploitive labor that is not necessarily
forced or indentured.
    While the process for updating the EO List does not apply to the
TVPRA List, the ongoing maintenance of the TVPRA list is governed by
procedural guidelines that are available at http://www.dol.gov/
federalregister/PdfDisplay.aspx?DocId=20376
. The Department of Labor
considered all information received during the EO List public comment
period addressing goods named on the TVPRA List as an official TVPRA
list submission and provided that information to the appropriate
Department staff for their review. Additional information on the TVPRA
List can be found at http://www.dol.gov/ILAB/programs/ocft/tvpra.htm.

H. Comments Related to Procurement of Products Named on the List

    Two comments were received urging additional measures related to
enforcement of EO 13126 and clarifications related to the EO List. The
Department of Labor’s only mandate pursuant to the EO is to produce the
EO List in collaboration with the Departments of State and Homeland
Security. The enforcement of the procurement regulation (48 CFR subpart
22.15) issued by the General Services Administration pursuant to the EO
falls to the various procurement offices in each of the Executive
Branch agencies. It is up to each agency to determine what guidance, if
any, is provided to contractors on the EO regulation, as well as to
determine how they monitor compliance with the EO regulation. Any
changes to the content of regulation fall under the authority of the
General Services Administration.
    Specific areas where clarifications were requested related to the
type and state of the products listed. It was stated that product
descriptions were often too broad and it was suggested that products be
named using the harmonized tariff schedule. We believe that the
descriptions are sufficiently specific based on the nature of the list
and the types of information that are available. The EO does not
require the use of the harmonized tariff schedule in the products list.
At this time, the Departments do not have reason to believe that the
use of such terminology in the EO List would result in more efficient
implementation of EO 13126. Additionally, it was requested that the
Department of Labor clarify that 48 CFR subpart 22.15 only applies to
the end product named on the EO List. It is not the Department’s role
to interpret the applicability of the regulation on behalf of the
General Services Administration. However, the Department of Labor can
clarify that the placement of a good on the EO List depends on the
stage of production at which forced or indentured child labor was
involved. For example, if forced child labor was used in the
extraction, harvesting, assembly, or production of raw materials or
component articles, and these materials or articles are subsequently
used under non-violative conditions in the manufacture or processing of
a final good, only the raw materials or component articles are on the
EO List and only for those countries where they were extracted,
harvested, assembled, or produced. If forced or indentured child labor
was used in both the production or extraction of raw materials or
component articles and the manufacture or processing of a final good,
then both the raw materials or component articles and the final good
are included on the EO List.

III. Final List of Products

    We have determined that it would be appropriate to publish a final
list of products that comprises the products included in the initial
determination, with the exception of carpets from

[[Page 42167]]

India. Other than with regard to the one exception described above, no
new information was provided through public comments to negate the
original conclusion or to indicate that forced or indentured child
labor has been significantly reduced or eliminated in the production of
the listed products. The basis for including those products on the list
is set forth in the Department of Labor’s September 11, 2009, notice in
the Federal Register (74 FR 46794). As noted in the September 11
notice, information provided in a public submission by Free the Slaves,
alleging forced or indentured child labor in the cocoa industry in Cote
d’Ivoire, and a public submission by State Department Watch, alleging
forced or indentured child labor in the production of eight products in
China, both filed pursuant to section D of the Procedural Guidelines
(66 FR 5351), was considered in finalizing the update to the EO List.
This final determination completes consideration of the two
submissions. The final list of products appears below.
    Based on recent, credible, and appropriately corroborated
information from various sources, the Department of Labor, the
Department of State, and the Department of Homeland Security have
concluded that there is a reasonable basis to believe that the
following products, identified by their country of origin, might have
been mined, produced, or manufactured by forced or indentured child
labor:

————————————————————————
                  Product                             Countries
————————————————————————
Bamboo………………………………  Burma.
Beans (green, soy, yellow)…………….  Burma.
Brazil Nuts/Chestnuts…………………  Bolivia.
Bricks………………………………  Burma, China, India, Nepal,
                                             Pakistan.
Carpets……………………………..  Nepal, Pakistan.
Charcoal…………………………….  Brazil.
Coal………………………………..  Pakistan.
Coca (stimulant plant)………………..  Colombia.
Cocoa……………………………….  Cote d’Ivoire, Nigeria.
Coffee………………………………  Cote d’Ivoire.
Cotton………………………………  Benin, Burkina Faso, China,
                                             Tajikistan, Uzbekistan.
Cottonseed (hybrid)…………………..  India.
Diamonds…………………………….  Sierra Leone.
Electronics………………………….  China.
Embroidered Textiles (zari)……………  India, Nepal.
Garments…………………………….  Argentina, India, Thailand.
Gold………………………………..  Burkina Faso.
Granite……………………………..  Nigeria.
Gravel (crushed stones)……………….  Nigeria.
Pornography………………………….  Russia.
Rice………………………………..  Burma, India, Mali.
Rubber………………………………  Burma.
Shrimp………………………………  Thailand.
Stones………………………………  India, Nepal.
Sugarcane……………………………  Bolivia, Burma.
Teak………………………………..  Burma.
Tilapia (fish)……………………….  Ghana.
Tobacco……………………………..  Malawi.
Toys………………………………..  China.
————————————————————————

The bibliographies providing the basis for including each product
on the list are available on the Internet at http://www.dol.gov/ILAB/
regs/eo13126/main.htm
.

[Federal Register: July 20, 2010 (Volume 75, Number 138)]
[Notices]              
[Page 42164-42167]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
[DOCID:fr20jy10-98]

 


Hilda L. Solis: ILAB event on Combating Child Labor Among Girls

Good morning.

It is a pleasure to be here with all of you today.

I want to say a special welcome to Senator Tom Harkin, a long time champion on these issues, and Tina Tchen, the Executive Director of the White House Council on Women and Girls.

Today, we are commemorating World Day Against Child Labor.

This year, the focus of World Day will be on girls. We want to focus on how we help girls to escape from the worst forms of child labor.

This year’s World Day is also an opportunity for us to mark the 10th anniversary of the adoption of the International Labor Organization’s Convention No. 182 on the Worst Forms of Child Labor. The United States was one of the first of 169 countries to ratify this convention. Since that time, the U.S. has been a leader in supporting global efforts to combat child labor.

We have also demonstrated our commitment to combating child labor by including adherence to international child labor standards as an eligibility criterion for our trading partners.

Now, to put into perspective the issues we will be discussing today, I would like to show a brief video that we have prepared highlighting the Department of Labor’s commitment to combating child labor globally.

We are very fortunate to have with us specialists who are working to combat the worst forms of child labor and addressing the needs of girls around the world.

I want to let you all know how important I think your work is. Issues affecting girls are extremely important to President Obama and to me. In his recent trip to Egypt, President Obama underscored the importance that the United States places on women’s rights and education. President Obama affirmed that “a woman who is denied an education is denied equality. And it is no coincidence that countries where women are well-educated are far more likely to be prosperous. Our daughters can contribute just as much to society as our sons, and our common prosperity will be advanced by allowing all humanity — men and women — to reach their full potential.”

President Obama has also committed to working with other countries to support expanded literacy for girls, and to help young women pursue employment through micro-financing that helps people live their dreams.

It is in this same spirit that we observe the World Day Against Child Labor.

We must be the voices for children who cannot speak for themselves, and commit ourselves to ending exploitive child labor through universal education. Work performed by girls is often done in the shadows, tucked away from public view. We must recognize the special challenges of working with girls.

First, given the hidden nature of some of the forms of work where girls toil — including domestic service and commercial sexual exploitation — it can be extremely difficult to collect accurate and reliable data on the numbers of girls affected and their working conditions.

Second, girls who work in hidden forms of child labor are more vulnerable to extreme exploitation and abuse.

Third, it can be far more difficult to rescue girls from hidden forms of work and provide them with the services they need to turn their lives around.

And girls in child labor often carry an extra burden — working outside their homes while also being expected to spend long hours on household chores, including caring for younger siblings.

I want to focus on three key facets of our efforts to stop exploitive child labor, facets that I hope we can expand on in our roundtable discussion.

First — education. Spending resources to educate girls is one of the best investments a country can make in their economic future. We know that mothers who have received the benefits of education are far more likely to send their own children to school than those who did not receive schooling. Education is a key tool for breaking the cycle of child labor and poverty, and societies that do not invest in the education of their girls (and boys) do so at their own peril.

Second — poverty. While accepting that education is a vital necessity, we also need to find effective ways for parents to overcome the grinding poverty that may cause them to choose work over school for their children.

Third and lastly — awareness. To maintain the momentum of efforts that are bringing about change, we need to raise awareness about how child labor negatively affects children, limiting their future potential and that of our collective societies.

I am proud to announce that, this year, the Department of Labor will provide approximately $60 million for projects to combat child labor globally. We need to raise awareness about the costs of child labor and commit ourselves, as each of you have, to making a tangible difference in the lives of children.

Every child — every girl and boy — deserves a chance to develop to their full potential.

I am eager to hear from all of you about how together we can bring new hope and possibilities to so many children around the world.

It is now my great pleasure to introduce one of the true champions in the global campaign to end child labor — Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa.

Senator Harkin has been a tireless advocate of working children around the world, advocating for education as the best investment we can make for children and for society as a whole.

Senator Harkin, thank you for joining us today.

I am also proud to have here with us today Tina Tchen, whom President Obama recently selected to head the new White House Council on Women and Girls.

Ms. (Tina) Tchen has long been an active supporter of women’s rights. As a lawyer, she litigated on behalf of the Illinois Department of Child and Family Services and tried to get Illinois to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment.

Tina, thank you for joining us today.

I would also like to acknowledge the Department of Labor’s Deputy Under Secretary for International Affairs, Sandra Polaski.

Sandra heads up the Bureau of International Labor Affairs — otherwise known as ILAB — which has been at the forefront of the Department’s efforts to eradicate exploitive child labor around the world.

Thank you all so much for being so candid and for sharing your personal and professional experiences with us. We have discussed a number of challenges and opportunities in addressing exploitive child labor and providing children, particularly girls, with the chance for a better future. This conversation has reinforced my personal commitment to combating exploitive child labor, and I would like to share with you how I would like to follow up on it.

First, I would like to meet industry groups and employers that are actively working to find solutions to exploitive child labor in the production goods and services.

Second, I plan to raise this issue in international meetings and with key governments to try to establish partnerships that will sustain many of the efforts that are underway. As I have already done so in my recent trips to the G8 in Rome and the Summit of the Americas in Trinidad & Tobago, I will discuss child labor issues with a number of governments at the International Labor Conference in Geneva next week.

Third, the Department of Labor will take a very proactive approach to reach out to countries that have made the commitment to address child labor and provide technical assistance and share best practices to combat child labor. I hope that you will all join me in renewing your commitment to this issue.

I would like to encourage each of you as you leave this meeting to consider what new and concrete actions you can take to combat exploitive child labor and provide children and their families with a future free of exploitation. Together, I know, we can and will make a difference in the lives of children around the world.

Thank you for being here today and for your commitment to this issue.

Before you leave the building today, I would like to invite you to view a special collection of photos that we have on display on the second floor in honor of the 2009 World Day Against Child Labor.

Thank you all again for being here.

 


U.S. Statement on the Adoption of the UPR of Egypt

Statement on the Adoption of the UPR of Egypt
As Delivered by John C. Mariz
U.S. Delegation to the Human Rights Council

Geneva, June 11, 2010

Thank you, Mr. President.

The United States welcomes the return to the Council of His Excellency Mr. Mufid Shihab and the Egyptian delegation and offer our congratulations on the occasion of the adoption of its Working Group report.

The United States congratulates Egypt for passing anti-trafficking legislation and appreciates Egypt’s support for recommendations to implement programs to combat child labor. The United States also commends Egypt’s support for the recommendation that it revise relevant laws and practice to ensure compliance with the ICCPR, including for bloggers and public access to the Internet. We are pleased that Egypt supports the recommendation that it review its legislation to complete the abolition of imprisonment penalties for publication offenses, and that Egypt accepts the recommendation to expedite the provision of official documents to all Baha’is.

We welcome Egypt’s support for the recommendation that it require that the police act with restraint when not directly threatened, but we remain deeply concerned about continued killings of migrants on the border with Israel. We also welcome Egypt’s support for the recommendation that it investigate torture allegations effectively and independently, that it review the definition of torture in Egyptian law and ensure its consistency with the Convention against Torture, and that it lift the State of Emergency and replace it with a counterterrorism law guaranteeing civil liberties. We are concerned, however, over the May 11 renewal of the State of Emergency. We note the May 11 presidential decree limiting the State of Emergency to terrorism and drug cases. We welcome the subsequent release of prisoners held under the Emergency Law and call for additional releases.

We welcome Egypt’s acceptance of the recommendation to reform the penal code regarding torture. We are concerned with Egypt’s characterization of the reasons for its imprisonment of bloggers.

We take note of the explanations provided in the addendum, and with regard to the recommendations Egypt indicated it partially accepts, the United States calls on Egypt to redress laws and practices discriminating against religious minorities, pass a unified places of worship law, and amend the law to promote and protect the independence of NGOs. Consistent with our understanding of the UPR process, we regard those recommendations as noted.

Finally, and again taking due and careful note of the explanations the delegation has provided, the United States regrets Egypt’s decision not to support a significant number of recommendations with respect to religion and political liberty. Regarding the June 1 Shura elections, we are concerned about reports of fraud and interference with access to polling stations both for voters and election monitors.

Thank you, Mr. President.

 
 

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