Cartoonists protest summit of the International Labor Organization (ILO)

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Cartoonists @ChavodelToro from Mexico and Gilmar @CartDasCavernas from Brazil

The International Labor Organization (ILO) based in Geneva, Switzerland, is holding its virtual summit this week with the participation of heads of state and government, ministers, representatives of employers and workers. 

At CARTOONS FOR CHANGE, we decided to invite cartoonists and illustrators from all continents to protest for 365 days, starting now during the virtual summit of the ILO, to demand that governments and multinationals stop child labour. It is unacceptable, cruel and illegal that 30 years after the ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child there are still almost 300 million working children.

On the occasion of the World Day Against Child Labor, which was commemorated on June 12th, the CARTOONS FOR CHANGE initiative, which I lead, invited cartoonists, illustrators and creatives, from all continents, to contribute their talent and creativity, sharpen their pencils and crayons, in defence of hundreds of millions of girls and boys victims of labour exploitation. 

Thanks to this first open call, CARTOONS FOR CHANGE received expressions of interest from more than a hundred professional cartoonists from all continents.

Because governments, international organisations, and especially multinational companies have done little, if anything, to eradicate child labour and protect the world’s poorest children, we in CARTOONS FOR CHANGE call cartoonists, illustrators, and others graphic artists to carry out a global protest that will not last just 24 hours but # 365DaysAgainstChildLabor.

The quality of the CARTOONS FOR CHANGE we have received is exceptional, the immense enthusiasm of cartoonists to join the cause is something I did not expect. This gives us the assurance that our global campaign will have a significant impact, despite the fact that those who profit from large-scale child labour, to reduce their cost of labour, are people and companies with criminal behaviour. Exploiting a minor is a crime, exploiting tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of girls and boys, like too many multinationals do, is a crime against humanity, this according to international law.

The European Union claims to respect human rights and children’s rights, but Europe is today the largest financial beneficiary of misery and child labour in the rural communities that produce coffee, cocoa and many other agricultural products.

Switzerland claims to be an exemplary democracy, but the Swiss Confederation has more children in its coffee, tea and cocoa supply chain than children studying in all Swiss schools.

Most “development aid” programs from the United States, Canada, the European Union, Norway, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Japan, etc. which claim to help eradicate child labour and reduce misery not only do not reduce them but also serve to hide the cruelty of neo-colonial business models that are the true cause of misery, and therefore of child labour.

According to data from the International Labor Organization (ILO), more than 152 million children in child labour situations. In my opinion, ILO child labour figures underestimate the total number of exploited children. In Asia, the ILO underestimates them by more than one hundred million children, in Africa more than 30 million children. This means that the total number of children working worldwide today may be very close to 300 million.

It is absolutely unacceptable, cruel and illegal that 70 years after signing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and 30 years after adopting the Convention on the Rights of the Child, even the coffee, tea and chocolate they consume in the United Nations institutions has child labour. 

This is true in the ILO and also in UNICEF that claims to protect children around the world, and in all the centres of power and influence of the developed world, where they claim to support and promote the Sustainable Development Goals. It is urgent to stop the exploitation of hundreds of millions of girls and boys. There are too many industries, such as chocolate, coffee, mining and many others in which child labour continues to increase because it is highly profitable for multinationals.

According to figures from the ILO, worldwide, child labour is concentrated primarily in agriculture (71%), which also includes fishing, forestry, livestock and aquaculture, and comprises both subsistence and commercial agriculture; 17% of children in child labour situation work in the service sector; and 12% in the industrial sector, particularly mining.

CARTOONS FOR CHANGE cartoons and illustrations will be published in the press and shared on the Twitter and Instagram accounts: @Cartoons4Change and Facebook: @Cartoons4ChangeNow.

If you want more information about CARTOONS FOR CHANGE, or about how you can contribute to eradicate child labor and abolish slavery, please contact us through any of the social networks.

These almost three hundred million extremely poor working girls and boys are largely innocent and helpless victims of the indifference of good people. This cannot go on like this. We have to change it!

Fernando Morales-de la Cruz is the Founder of @Cartoons4Change.