The Bureau of International Labor Affairs (ILAB), within the Department of Labor, protects vulnerable people worldwide—women, child laborers, people at risk of forced labor and human trafficking, and workers at the bottom of global supply chains. ILAB promotes, monitors, and enforces labor-related provisions in U.S. trade agreements and preference programs; monitors and combats child labor; promotes respect for labor rights and adherence to labor laws; and implements projects that fight poverty by improving worker rights and livelihoods.
What does it buy?
ILAB funds technical assistance programs that combat child labor and human trafficking, promote labor rights, and support fair trade in complex labor rights environments such as Mexico, Bangladesh, Colombia, and Mauritania.
Why is it important?
Worldwide, 152 million children are still engaged in child labor—73 million work in hazardous conditions. Of the 152 million, roughly half are under 11 years old.
An estimated 25 million people, including children, are subject to forced labor globally.
Since 1995, ILAB has withdrawn nearly 2 million children from labor and provided them with education. It has helped nearly 170,000 families meet basic needs without relying upon child labor.
ILAB monitors and enforces labor conditions in 131 countries with trade agreements and preference programs with the U.S.—ensuring that U.S. trade partners comply with their labor rights obligations.
ILAB’s expert staff, targeted programs, and monitoring efforts in Mexico are key to enforcing the successful enforcement of the labor provisions of the new USMCA trade agreement with Mexico and Canada.
ILAB maintains a list of goods and their source countries that it has reason to believe are produced by child labor or forced labor in violation of international standards. The List of Goods Produced by Child Labor or Forced Labor comprises 155 goods from 77 countries, as of September 30, 2020.
Worldwide, 152 million children are still engaged in child labor.
Why should Americans care?
ILAB creates a level playing field for American workers and businesses in the global economy by enforcing the labor provisions of U.S. free trade agreements and preference programs so that our trading partners do not exploit child and forced labor, rely on trafficked workers, ignore basic workplace safety measures, or repress worker rights to gain an unfair advantage in trade.
In developing countries, ILAB builds workers’ capacity to defend their labor rights and advocate for safe working conditions, leveling the playing field for American workers and businesses.
ILAB provides tools, like the ComplyChain app, to help American businesses navigate the challenges of eliminating child labor, forced labor, and human trafficking in their supply chains by explaining relevant laws, regulations, and policies and modeling strategies for monitoring and remediation.
COVID-19 makes children more vulnerable to the risk of labor exploitation as job losses, economic insecurity, and school closures increase pressure for families to find ways to make ends meet.
Funding levels may not accurately reflect those in the appropriations bills and/or reports due to rounding.