Online Conference on Combating Child Labour in ASEAN/Southeast Asia

June 3, 2021 – June 4, 2021 all-day Asia/Bangkok Timezone

Organised by the Vietnam National University-Law School, Southeast Asian Human Rights and Peace Studies Network (SEAHRN), & the Strengthening Human Rights and Peace Research and Education in ASEAN/Southeast Asia Programme (SHAPE-SEA), in partnership with the International Labour Organization in Hanoi, Vietnam

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Child labour is a socio-economic pandemic that continues to plague the lives of many. In the Asia-Pacific Region alone, there are about 62 Million children who are engaged in some form of labour.[1]  In Vietnam, in particular, the 2018 National Child Labour Survey estimated, there were 1,031,944 cases, involving children aged between 5 to 17 years.[2]

Legal standards and mechanisms have been either developed or reformed to diminish child labor. However, based on the recent rise in the number of cases, legal safeguards seem to be not enough. There are many factors that still have to be addressed such as gender stereotypes, gender-based violence, poverty, the lack of decent work for adults, the lack of social protection, and failure to ensure quality education for all children. Furthermore, the COVID-19 pandemic induced severe inequalities and disrupted work/movements towards the protection of vulnerable peoples—including children. According to the UN Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights (OHCHR), the pandemic has devastating short, medium and long term effects on Children—specifically those who are at the margins. This public health emergency not only restricts their movement, but also impacts their mental and physical health, as well as, the full enjoyment of their basic rights.[3] As of the moment, literature on child labour in relation to the pandemic in the region has, so far, been bleak.

On the regional front, the ASEAN Secretariat, together with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), U.S. Mission to ASEAN and the ILO on 26-27 August 2020 in Jakarta organised the Regional Inter-Sectoral Workshop on the Renewal of the ASEAN Roadmap for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour by 2025[4]. The Roadmap aims boost ASEAN’s collective resilience and agility in promoting the livelihoods of the people and well-being of children in particular. Moving forward, the Roadmap will be submitted to the ASEAN Labour Ministers for adoption. Under this project, a conference involving various stakeholders is also planned in 2021 to discuss follow-up actions.

In light of the current situation, the conference seeks to promote the role and participation of scholars and research agencies in the prevention of child labor in ASEAN countries. This also aims to develop practical lessons on effective initiatives and models to improve the effectiveness of child labor prevention among scholars and researchers in Southeast Asia. It will also contribute to the expansion of multi-sectoral networks, and attract more discourses and actions on intersecting issues affecting chid labour. It shall also emphasise on the role of governments in the prevention of child labor and promotion of SDG Goal 8.7.

Conference Objectives

  • To increase awareness among scholars, practitioners, public officers, the corporate, industrial sectors on child labor standards and problems;
  • To foster teaching and studying children’s rights in Vietnam and Southeast Asia. Specifically, VNU-LS will have sufficiently reading/teaching materials for the Master Programme on human rights law;
  • To build a strong regional and local network of lecturers, researchers and scholars at Vietnamese university, and Southeast Asian experts and scholars; and
  • To disseminate materials developed from the conference: a book published within this project will be sent to related local state agencies, social organizations and academic institutions for education, reference and other professional purposes.

Expected Outcomes

The goal of this two-day online conference is to meaningfully contribute to the implementation of the ASEAN Roadmap for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour by 2025, and to enable long-term and sustainable means to fully prevent and eliminate of child labour in ASEAN/Southeast Asia.

Conference Themes

  • Child Labour, COVID-19 and the New Normal in ASEAN/Southeast Asia
  • Relevant Domestic, Regional and International Laws and Institutions
  • Education. Poverty and Child Labour
  • Gendered Lived Experiences of Child Labour
  • Roles and Responsibilities of Stakeholders (Governments, Employers, Civil Society, Media)
  • Protection of Child Victims of Trafficking
  • Good Practices and Solutions to prevent and eliiminate Child Labour


The conference shall be a platform for scholars, advocaates practitioners, government officials and representatives from the ASEAN bodies, ILO, UN, civil society organizations and private sector in ASEAN to share knowledge, experiences and to discuss:

  • The role and participation of scholars, researchers, universities and research institutes in the prevention of child labor;
  • Knowledge and experience on child labor prevention, including policy framework, laws, action programs, research, communication, teaching, initiatives, coordination model, and good lessons in this area in Southeast Asia
  • Develop and/or strengthen multi-stakeholder collaboration in the field of child labor prevention and reduction in the region.


[1] Global estimates of child labour: Results and trends, 2012-2016. International Labour Office (ILO), Geneva, 2017.—dgreports/—dcomm/documents/publication/wcms_575499.pdf
[2] Second Viet Nam National Child Labour Survey: Key findings,–en/index.htm