Committing to respecting children’s rights and fighting child labor

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times March 13, 2015 10:20

By ROBERT WILTON*

We are here to build on an important partnership. We are here to address a crime.

The use of forced child labour is a serious human rights violation. In Albania, children reportedly work in the agricultural, textile, garment, footwear and mining sectors. According to INSTAT, 57,000 children in Albania – eight percent of five to seventeen year-olds – are economically active.

A number of these children are reportedly employed in factories, where they are exposed to heavy machinery and chemicals. By international standards and Albanian legislation this is the worst form of child labour, as it jeopardises the physical, mental and moral well-being of the child.

Addressing child labour in economic sectors is an extremely difficult task, but working together, we can find solutions. That is why the partnership established between the OSCE Presence and BiznesAlbania is so important.

One solution is the Code of Conduct we are presenting today. It is a common standard to prohibit the exploitation of children in the worst forms of child labour and the employment of children below the minimum legal age.

This is a true partnership – an initiative of the OSCE Presence, funded by the Italian Government and embraced by BiznesAlbania. This code is a comprehensive framework for businesses to consider their impact on the rights and welfare of children. It contains of a number of commitments that businesses can take to respect children’s rights in their operations.

The code also informs other stakeholders, particularly in government and civil society, on their engagement with business. While the government has the primary duty to protect, respect and fulfil children’s rights, businesses and civil society must comply with the national law and respect international standards on children’s rights. The code, as a measure of positive action, seeks to advance the role of businesses in upholding international human rights standards to help build a world fit for children.

The Code of Conduct was written by Mr. Mike Dottridge, an expert in the field. He will speak to us in a few minutes. It is also based on the results of multi-stakeholder consultations here in Albania with business associations, civil society representatives and the government.

Today’s endorsement of the code by BiznesAlbania is an important step towards protecting children’s rights in Albania. It will be followed by an information campaign targeting businesses and employees on the employment of children. The presence will provide further expertise to BiznesAlbania to help raise awareness amongst the business community and secure their commitment to implement the code.

It is critical that companies do business in a socially responsible manner: with care for people, resources and the environment. Let me conclude by calling on all businesses to step up their efforts to respect and support children’s rights in the workplace and community. This is not only a legal obligation, but also a moral responsibility we all share to protect every single child, without discrimination.

Together, let us commit to respecting children’s rights and build a future in which all children have the opportunity to realize their full potential.

*These were the comments the OSCE Deputy Head of Presence Robert Wilton made at the event “Code of Conduct on the employment of persons below 18 years of age” in Tirana on March 11, 2015.

 

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times March 13, 2015 10:20