Chapter Spotlight: UNA Saint Louis

This year to commemorate the United Nations’ 75th anniversary, UNA-USA conducted over 80 consultations in all 50 states where participants discussed what their ideal world looks like and what needs to be done to secure a better future. Many participants expressed the need to mobilize younger generations to become advocates for the United Nations and take the lead to address global crises like climate change or economic inequalities.

At the same time, if the health, wellbeing, and safety of children is not secured, educating them to be future world leaders is not a viable option. The UNA St. Louis Chapter focused on this threat during their UN75 Consultation on Child Labor.

Fostering collaborative discussion between UNA St. Louis Chapter members, UNICEF New York Office representatives, and guest speakers, the St. Louis Chapter emphasized the importance of addressing child labor on the local, national, and international levels. As participants were divided into multiple discussion groups to talk through the impacts of climate change, poverty, and inequality on child labor, the consultation underscored how child labor is an interconnected threat to a number of Sustainable Development Goals, such as Good Health and Wellbeing (SDG 3) or Reduced Inequalities (SDG 10).

The consultation also brought to light the alarming, yet true, reality that child labor is a truly global problem, affecting both developing and developed countries alike.

Child labor is not merely a ‘third world problem’. Thousands of children in our own state of Missouri are currently being exploited in fields such as agriculture and domestic service. This is a violation of human rights; child labor […] reinforces intergenerational cycles of poverty and weakens national economies. The United States has an obligation to prevent and protect all children from the numerous horrors of child labor.

Sarah Thompson, Former President, SLU UNICEF

Though progress has been made by UN Member States to combat child labor with documents like Convention 138, which describes the minimum age for non-agriculture work, or Convention 138, which characterizes the worst forms of child labor, much progress remains in ratifying other agreements that are equally as important. Chapter Vice President Luz Rooney describes this issue in the case of the U.S., as it “remains the only country that has not ratified the Convention of the Rights of the Child, and thus it is allowing children to be exploited […] for economic gain.”

As the consultation progressed, participants concluded that more consistent global collaboration and action needs to occur, and Member States need to make a true commitment to change by supporting conventions on child labor and holding each other accountable.

For the 152 million children who are child laborers in this world, daily robbed of safety and education, the United Nations must remain vigilant with their quest to help them.

Stephanie Gavin, UN75 Consultation Co-Chair

Every UN75 Consultation that occurred in the past few months brought up important, calculated solutions to pressing global crises like climate change and health risks. Nevertheless, UNA St. Louis Chapter’s consultation stresses the necessity to address the underlying issue of human rights and child labor, because to achieve a more peaceful and sustainable world, we need to ensure all children have the potential to become global actors for the SDGs. Participants in many different consultations expressed their hope in the future generation of leaders, who are becoming more involved and active. Now it’s time for us to be the source of hope for youth worldwide and work to eradicate child labor.

If you would like to read the full report from the St. Louis Chapter’s UN75 Consultation, click here to download the pdf.