The Government of Belize is now a member of the Regional Initiative Latin America and the Caribbean Free of Child Labour, a tripartite network of countries working to accelerate actions that prevent and eradicate child labour and its worst forms.
The country’s commitment to the Regional Initiative became official on 24 May 2023 as part of the 12th International Labour Organization (ILO) Caribbean Labour Ministers’ Meeting (CLMM) in Georgetown, Guyana.
The Honourable Oscar Requeña, Minister of Rural Transformation, Community Development, Labour and Local Government signed the agreement and delivered remarks to the audience affirming Belize’s allegiance to the Regional Initiative.
He was welcomed and congratulated by Claudia Coenjaerts, ILO Regional Director (a.i.) for Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as other Ministers of Labour and senior labour officials from around the subregion.
“The protection of our children is critical, and we recognize that eradicating child labour is a significant milestone towards ensuring their wellbeing. We will continue to work towards ending all forms of child labour in Belize. I thank everyone who has supported us on this journey so far, and we look forward to continued work together,” said Minister Requena.
“Today, with the adhesion of Belize, we now have 12 of the Caribbean (& CARICOM) countries actively participating in this innovative partnership among governments and social partners, with the goal being to establish the first generation free of child labour in this hemisphere. We look forward with great anticipation to the collaboration with Belize. Welcome!” said Coenjaerts.
The signing by Belize comes 19 days ahead of World Day Against Child Labour (12 June) and at a time when the estimated number of children participating in child labour in Latin America and the Caribbean stands at 1.1 million.
Rising poverty levels caused by COVID-19 and other crises have elevated the risk of even more participating in child labour across the region.
Established in 2014, the Regional Initiative Latin America and the Caribbean Free of Child Labour is now comprised of 31 countries in the region, 7 representatives of employers’ organizations and 7 representatives of workers’ organizations.
The ILO serves as the technical secretariat for the Regional Initiative, supporting the tripartite members in their operationalization of the regional Strategic Plan 2022-2025, which seeks to propel countries in the region closer to the common goal of eradicating child labour in all its form by 2025, as expressed in Target 8.7 of the United Nations Agenda for Sustainable Development.