Labelling or certification schemes
A labelling or certification scheme aimed at the elimination of child labour, often referred to as "voluntary social labelling", involves affixing a ticket or label on goods to certify that they have not been manufactured by children. Labelling and certification schemes have been developed by many retailers and manufacturers who have come under criticism from civil and human rights groups for outsourcing to suppliers in developing countries where child labour is a problem. Some employers' associations in developing and developed countries have initiated certification and labelling schemes to prevent the boycott of their goods. The primary objective of these schemes is to inform consumers about the social conditions of production, and to assure them that the item they purchased was produced under fair and equitable working conditions, without the use of child labour.
According to an ILO study2 most voluntary social labelling initiatives share the following features:
Despite a number of common features, labelling schemes may vary widely in their objectives, target groups and means of operation. Problems most often associated with labelling include the limited extent of monitoring and inspection, the frequent lack of transparency for consumers and the unsure fate of the children working in industries targeted by labelling initiatives.
The ILO study suggests that labelling may offer prospects for helping some working children but must be used as part of a series of activities within a broader policy and strategy. This should include appropriate labour market legislation and oversight; the availability of educational and other alternatives for children; and awareness-raising among parents, employers' and workers' organizations, and the public at large. The study concludes that, within this larger picture, social labelling may establish a long-term place for itself as one way of helping children. However, the ILO is currently carrying out more in-depth research to assess the effectiveness and impact of social labelling on child labour.
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