BUENOS AIRES – International humanitarian organizations met on Monday with politicians from Argentina and the United States to confirm Argentina’s commitment to the fight against forced child labor, following the ratification of Alliance 8.7, a United Nations cooperation treaty.
The meeting consisted of a table of dialogue organized by UNICEF, the International Labor Organization (ILO) in Argentina, and political and union representatives, including U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas Edward Perez, who noted Argentina’s efforts to fight the enslavement of young people.
“Its efforts are most important because we have more strength when we work together,” Perez said.
The U.S. labor secretary thanked the Argentine government for being a “pioneer” in ratifying the 2014 protocol, which made official the international obligation to combat modern slavery and noted the need to “convince 40 or 50 countries” to accept the protocol between now and 2018.
This agreement was finally approved last Wednesday in Geneva and was signed by nine countries, of which Argentina was the only one from South America.
For his part, the secretary of Argentina’s Labor, Employment and Security Ministry, Ezequiel Sabor, recalled that the “only way” that slavery like this can be eradicated is by creating “decent jobs.”
“By allowing slave labor and forced child labor, we take the future of these youngsters away from them,” Sabor said, adding that Argentina “must be a country that continues to lead the region and set an example.”
During the talks, Sabor also noted that the 4th Global Conference on Child Labor, to be held in Argentina in Nov. 2017, will for the first time discuss labor that affects pre-teens.
This three-day event will bring together leaders of humanitarian organizations, labor unions and political parties to find common ground in dealing with human trafficking and child labor, as they did during the last edition held in 2013 in Brasilia.
For his part, Hugo Yasky, secretary general of the Argentine Workers Central (CTA) told EFE that teachers “play a fundamental roll” in detecting secret sweatshops and slavery conditions.
For Yasky, “a cultural stumbling block exists,” particularly in the country’s rural areas, where it is “natural” to put children to work, and said Argentina was “very late” in seeing child labor as a crime.