ILO Child Labour Convention unanimously ratified by all members!

Convention on the Worst Forms of Child Labour, 1999 (No. 182) becomes most rapidly ratified convention in the history of the organisation

[Omar Havana/Getty Images]
Image: Omar Havana/Getty Images

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) has achieved universal ratification for its Convention on the Worst Forms of Child Labour, 1999 (No. 182) with all 187 member states accepting it. The Convention calls for the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labour, including slavery, forced labour and trafficking. It prohibits the use of children in armed conflict, prostitution, pornography and illicit activities such as drug trafficking, and in hazardous work.

It is one of the ILO’s eight Fundamental Conventions. These cover the abolition of child labour, the elimination of forced labour, the abolition of work-related discrimination and the rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining. These principles are also covered by the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work (1998).

ILO Director-General Guy Ryder said, “Universal ratification of Convention 182 is an historic first that means that all children now have legal protection against the worst forms of child labour.” He added, “It reflects a global commitment that the worst forms of child labour, such as slavery, sexual exploitation, the use of children in armed conflict or other illicit or hazardous work that compromises children’s health, morals or psychological wellbeing, have no place in our society.”

The ILO estimates that there are 152 million children in child labour, 73 million of whom are in hazardous work. Seventy per cent of all child labour takes place in agriculture and is mostly related to poverty and parents’ difficulties finding decent work.

According to Article 3 of the Convention on the Worst Forms of Child Labour, 1999 (No. 182), the term the worst forms of child labour comprises:

  • (a) all forms of slavery or practices similar to slavery, such as the sale and trafficking of children, debt bondage and serfdom and forced or compulsory labour, including forced or compulsory recruitment of children for use in armed conflict;

  • (b) the use, procuring or offering of a child for prostitution, for the production of pornography or for pornographic performances;

  • (c) the use, procuring or offering of a child for illicit activities, in particular for the production and trafficking of drugs as defined in the relevant international treaties;

  • (d) work which, by its nature or the circumstances in which it is carried out, is likely to harm the health, safety or morals of children.

According to Article 7 (2) of the same convention, “Each Member shall, taking into account the importance of education in eliminating child labour, take effective and time-bound measures to:

  • (a) prevent the engagement of children in the worst forms of child labour;

  • (b) provide the necessary and appropriate direct assistance for the removal of children from the worst forms of child labour and for their rehabilitation and social integration;

  • (c) ensure access to free basic education, and, wherever possible and appropriate, vocational training, for all children removed from the worst forms of child labour;

  • (d) identify and reach out to children at special risk; and

  • (e) take account of the special situation of girls.”

The entire convention may be read here:


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