ADDRESSING CHILD LABOUR
Child labour is not acceptable. Our approach to respecting human rights, including child labour, is guided by the international human rights principles in line with the International Bill of Human Rights, the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) core conventions and the principles and guidance contained within the United Nation Guiding Principles on Business (UNGP) and Human Rights.
In accordance with the main international and legal instruments contained in the Conventions of the ILO and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), child labour is defined as work that can harm children’s well-being and hinder their education, development and future livelihood.
Similar to other agricultural industries, the risk of child labour is highest in our tobacco growing supply chain. Addressing child labour is a multi-stakeholder issue, one which no single entity can address in isolation. In collaboration with key stakeholders including the industry, suppliers and NGOs, we seek to address child labour through three main avenues;
(i) Leaf supplier programme known as the Sustainable Tobacco Program (STP); the Human and Labour Rights section of STP is a critical element for the respect of human rights and is aligned with the relevant ILO conventions and the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.
(ii) Leaf Partnership Projects; working directly with our suppliers to fund projects in tobacco growing communities to help tackle some of the root causes of child labour.
(iii) Our active support of the Eliminating Child Labour in Tobacco Growing Foundation (ECLT), which aims to tackle the root causes of child labour by improving access to education and providing alternatives to childhood working. It also has an advocacy role, raising awareness with governments and communities to galvanise positive action.
As an ECLT Board member we have signed a Pledge of Commitment and Minimum Requirements’, which affirms that “ECLT Board Members respect and recognise the principles and rights enshrined in the ILO Conventions and recommendations on child labour. The pledge further affirms a sector wide commitment to uphold the robust policies on child labour”.
We engage with NGOs including Human Rights Watch on the issue of child labour in agricultural supply chains. We believe in constructive dialogue and transparency in dealing with this very important issue.
In addition to the STP, which covers all of our leaf suppliers, we operate a Supplier Qualification Programme for our key non-tobacco material (NTM) and next generation product (NGP) suppliers. NTM and NGP suppliers are asked to complete a compliance check, which includes questions on business conduct, environmental management and labour practices. We also encourage our suppliers to evaluate their suppliers and sub-contractors. We prioritise audits on the basis of risk assessment, quality and performance.
Further detail on how we address the issue of child labour in our agricultural supply chain is detailed in our Addressing Child Labour overview.