child labor, use of the young as workers in factories, farms, and mines. Child labor was first recognized as a social problem with the introduction of the factory system in late 18th-century Great Britain. Children had formerly been apprenticed (see apprenticeship) or had worked in the family, but in the factory their employment soon constituted virtual slavery, especially among British orphans. This was mitigated by acts of Parliament in 1802 and later.
Similar legislation followed on the European Continent as countries became industrialized. Although most European nations had child labor laws by 1940, the material requirements necessary during World War II brought many ...view middle of the document...
Not all such work is considered child labor, but some 186 million children were estimated to be involved in child labor as defined under international agreements. The 1973 ILO Minimum Age Convention, banning any form of child labor, has been ratified by 117 nations. In 1999, ILO members unanimously approved a treaty banning any form of child labor that endangers the safety, health, or morals of children, but the treaty covered such universally objectionable forms of work as slavery, forced labor, child prostitution, criminal activity, and forced military recruitment and could be seen as a step backward from the 1973 treaty. The treaty was also criticized for permitting voluntary enlistment in the military by persons under the age of 18.
Today, throughout the world, around 215 million children work, many full-time. They do not go to school and have little or no time to play. Many do not receive proper nutrition or care. They are denied the chance to be children. More than half of them are exposed to the worst forms of child labour such as work in hazardous environments, slavery, or other forms of forced labour, illicit activities including drug trafficking and prostitution, as well as involvement in armed conflict.
Guided by the principles enshrined in the ILO's Minimum Age Convention No. 138 and the Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention No. 182, the ILO InFocus Programme on Child Labour (IPEC) works to achieve the effective abolition of child labour.
One of the major aims set for the International Labour Organization (ILO) at its foundation in 1919 was the abolition of child labour. Historically, the ILO’s principal tool in pursuing the goal of effective abolition of child labour has been the adoption and supervision of labour standards that embody the concept of a minimum age for admission to employment or work. Furthermore, from 1919 onwards the principle that minimum age standards should be linked to schooling has been part of the ILO’s tradition in standard setting in this area. Convention No. 138 provides that the minimum age for admission to employment shall not be less than the age of completion of compulsory schooling.
The ILO’s adoption of Convention No. 182 in 1999 consolidated the global consensus on child labour elimination. It provided much-needed focus without abandoning the overarching goal, expressed in Convention No. 138, of the effective abolition of child labour. Moreover, the concept of the worst forms helps set priorities and can be used as an entry point in tackling the mainstream child labour problem. The concept also helps to direct attention to the impact of work on children, as well as the work they perform.
Child labour that is proscribed under international law falls into three categories:
* The unconditional worst forms of child labour, which are internationally defined as slavery, trafficking, debt bondage and other forms of forced labour, forced recruitment of children for use in armed...