chapter  19
12 Pages

Is the Eradication of Child Labour ‘Within Reach’? Achievements and Challenges Ahead

Should we be pessimistic or optimistic about the prospect of eliminating exploitative

child labour? In its first global report on the subject in 2002, the ILO reported that

child labour ‘is a stubborn phenomenon, whose complete elimination has not

The second global report, in 2006, significantly titled The End of Child Labour:

Within Reach, reported an 11 per cent decrease in the number of working children

worldwide between 2000 and 2004.2 This led the Director-General to claim that the

goal of ‘eliminating the worst forms of child labour within the next ten years’ was

There are many reasons to be sceptical about the ILO’s optimism. The scale of the

problem remains uncertain. Child labour tends to be hidden in the informal economy

and in illegal and clandestine activities. There are doubts about the reliability of

statistical estimates based on extrapolation of available information in a limited

number of countries.4 Moreover, as Sanguineti Raymond points out, ‘even if one

may be under the impression that it has been overcome in specific places or sectors,

it may reappear or turn up elsewhere with unexpected intensity and frequency’.5 This

phenomenon is richly illustrated in the case studies in Part III of this volume.