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Volkan Bozkir (General Assembly President) at the High-Level Event to mark the International Year for the Elimination of Child Labour
10 Jun 2021 -  H.E. Mr. Volkan Bozkir, President of 75th session of the General Assembly delivers remarks at the High-level event to mark the International Year for the Elimination of Child Labour.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am honored to be part of the High-level event to mark the International Year for the Elimination of Child Labour.

The UN has declared 2021 the International Year for the Elimination of Child Labour out of a sense of pressing urgency. 152 million children, or 7% children worldwide, go to work rather than school or play. Often, these children work in hazardous conditions for little pay and long hours. They miss out on what we all should expect – the right to a quality education, good health and a chance to develop to our fullest potential.

The COVID-19 pandemic and its impacts - such as school closures, income loss, deepening poverty, and limited social services - have forced more children into work. Inequalities have increased between and within countries as the pandemic has disproportionally impacted the already disadvantaged, including children. Girls are particularly at risk of being trafficked or pushed into forced marriage. They are also less likely to return to school at the end of the pandemic. We must ensure that this generation is not lost. We must support these children to find their way back to their classrooms where they belong.

The negative impacts of child labour are felt by the whole society, not just the children themselves. They are our future. Their productivity matters to us all. Limiting the children’s potential, limits societies’ potential.

The international community has made it clear that child labour has no place in modern society. I am encouraged by the concrete pledges to act from governments, civil society and businesses in response to this International Year. 
But still too many children suffer under the burden of work. We have a guide forward in the Sustainable Development Goals – which calls for the end of all forms of child labour by 2025. That is a mere four years away. With 152 million children in the workforce, we have no time to waste. And there is no space for excuses. We know what it takes to end child labour. Universal quality education, social protection and poverty alleviation are all core factors. By working through the multilateral system, and in particular the United Nations, we can address the core drivers of child labour. It is clear that this issue will not be overcome unless the international community works closely together.

Let us use this International Year to ensure that no child is left behind.

Thank you.