ILAB | United States Department of Labor


ILAB’s work helps level the playing field for U.S. workers by ensuring that our trade partners do not lower labor standards as a means of attracting trade and investment.

ILAB promotes strong U.S. trade policy:

  • Negotiating robust labor provisions in new trade and investment agreements, and enforcing the eligibility criteria of trade preference programs, as well as in the guidelines governing lending by multilateral development banks and international financial institutions;
  • Enforcing the labor provisions of U.S. free trade agreements and trade preference programs to ensure that no country gains an unfair advantage; and Building the capacity of other countries to enforce and improve labor protections.
  • ILAB also represents the interests of U.S. workers in U.S. government interagency policy deliberations on trade-related issues such as the elimination of unfair trade barriers, implementation of trade remedies, and the protection of intellectual property rights.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s (USDOL) Bureau of International Labor Affairs (ILAB) has been working to combat child labor, forced labor, and human trafficking since 1993. We carry out research, policy engagement, and technical cooperation to advance the elimination of these human rights abuses. ILAB produces reports on the incidence and nature of child labor and forced labor and efforts underway to address these problems. We assist in the development and implementation of U.S. government policy and also engage strategically with governments, business, labor, and civil society groups to implement models that work to reduce exploitive labor practices.

Data and research is taken from three flagship reports that ILAB publishes on international child labor and forced labor. These reports are the USDOL’s Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor; the List of Goods Produced by Child Labor or Forced Labor; and the List of Products Produced by Forced or Indentured Child Labor. Each of these reports has a distinct mandate, focus, and set of implications, but taken collectively, they document the current situation of child labor, forced labor, and forced child labor around the world and serve as valuable resources for research, advocacy, government action, and corporate responsibility.

Worst Forms of Child Labor: USDOL’s Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor, mandated by the Trade and Development Act of 2000 (TDA), focuses on the efforts of 137 U.S. trade beneficiary countries and territories to eliminate the worst forms of child labor through legislation, enforcement mechanisms, policies, and social programs. Information was gathered for the Findings through desk research, U.S. embassy reporting, and limited field work. Information was also received from some foreign governments and collected from U.S. government-funded technical assistance projects. ILAB did not use information that is unavailable to the public, such as government-classified information. ILAB used the criteria of nature, date, and source of information, as well as extent of corroboration, to determine what should be included in the Findings. Each country in the Findings receives an assessment to indicate clearly the Secretary of Labor’s findings on each country’s level of advancement in efforts to eliminate the worst forms of child labor during the reporting period. Countries can receive one of five possible assessments: Significant Advancement, Moderate Advancement, Minimal Advancement, No Advancement, or No Assessment. In preparing the assessments, ILAB evaluated country efforts against criteria laid out in the TDA Conference Committee report. For more information, see the report Introduction.

Goods Produced by Child Labor or Forced Labor: The List of Goods Produced by Child Labor or Forced Labor, mandated by the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2005 (TVPRA), focuses on both children under 18 and adults, and includes 139 goods and 75 source countries that ILAB has reason to believe are produced by child labor or forced labor in violation of international standards. The List of Goods is intended to raise public awareness about child labor and forced labor around the world and to promote and inform efforts to address them. A starting point for action, the List of Goods creates opportunities for ILAB to engage and assist foreign governments. It is also a valuable resource for researchers, advocacy organizations, and companies wishing to carry out risk assessments and engage in due diligence on labor rights in their supply chains. ILAB used similar data collection methods to prepare the List of Goods as the Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor.

ILAB used the following five criteria to determine whether there was “reason to believe” a particular good was being produced using child or forced labor in violation of international standards: 

  • nature, date, and source of information; extent of corroboration; and significant incidence of child labor or forced labor.

For each good that was reviewed, ILAB evaluated each data source against each of the five criteria. ILAB researchers applied the criteria consistently across goods and countries so that ultimate findings of “reason to believe” are consistent worldwide.

When ILAB found reason to believe that child labor or forced labor was used in the production of a particular good, prior to adding that good to the List of Goods, ILAB also considered evidence of government, industry, or third-party initiatives to combat the problem. This included evidence about ongoing initiatives brought to our attention through public submissions. If ILAB determined that the problem of child labor or forced labor persisted despite existing efforts to address the issue, the good was still added to the List of Goods. For more information, see the Research Methodology section in the full List of Goods.

Products Produced by Forced or Indentured Child Labor: The List of Products Produced by Forced or Indentured Child Labor, mandated by Executive Order (EO) 13126 Prohibition of Acquisition of Products Produced by Forced or Indentured Child Labor, is maintained by ILAB along with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Department of State. It contains a list of products identified by their country of origin that the three Departments have a reasonable basis to believe might have been mined, produced, or manufactured by forced or indentured child labor. The List of Products contains information on 35 products from 26 countries. The EO List has implications for federal procurement activities. This list is intended to ensure that U.S. federal agencies do not procure goods made by forced or indentured child labor. Under procurement regulations, federal contractors who supply products on the List of Products must certify that they have made a good faith effort to determine whether forced or indentured child labor was used to produce the items supplied. ILAB develops the List of Products using criteria and procedures established in its “Procedural Guidelines for the Maintenance of the List of Products Requiring Federal Contractor Certification as to Forced or Indentured Child Labor.”

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