IN MAY 2010, world leaders will gather at The Hague Global Child Labour Conference to speed up processes to eliminate Worst Forms of Child Labour.

This year marks the tenth year since the International Labor Organization Convention 182 on the Worst Forms of Child Labour or WFCL, in which the Philippines is party to.

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Under ILO Convention 182 WFCL are defined as:

"(a) all forms of slavery or practices similar to slavery, such as the sale and trafficking of children, debt bondage and serfdom and forced or compulsory labour, including forced or compulsory recruitment of children for use in armed conflict;

"(b) the use, procuring or offering of a child for prostitution, for the production of pornography or for pornographic performances;

"(c) the use, procuring or offering of a child for illicit activities, in particular for the production and trafficking of drugs as defined in the relevant international treaties;

"(d) work which, by its nature or the circumstances in which it is carried out, is likely to harm the health, safety or morals of children."

Despite all the laws already in place on the protection of children from abuse and exploitation, from trafficking, from prostitution, we know they are still out there and growing in number.

Late last year, Sun.Star Davao ran a full-feature of children as young as 13 plying the flesh trade. Using young boys to carry out criminal activities like robbery and delivering drugs have likewise become more rampant with the drug groups taking advantage of the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Law and the lack of expertise on this law by those who enforce it. While rebel groups may repeatedly deny it, but there are children among their ranks, as combatants and as gofers.

Non-government organizations working with poor children can only shake their hands at the skyrocketing number of children in risky situations and in trouble, all unattended, all in need of immediate attention.

There is then the need to train our eyes on how this conference develops and to hold government accountable for all the moves that should be put in place, and not just the laws that make them look good in the international community, but can hardly be implemented on the ground.

As the conference website states, "Child labour is not a phenomenon that can be dealt with in isolation, it is both a cause and consequence of poverty and low levels of social welfare."

NGO workers need not look far in trying to understand why there is a burgeoning number of children that they have to attend to, those children are but the result of continued low levels of social welfare.