2.4 NEW INTERNATIONAL LABOUR STANDARDS ON THE WORST FORMS OF CHILD LABOUR
There has been growing international consensus that more specific attention needs to be given to the worst abuses of child labour. To this end the ILO's Governing Body decided to propose new instruments on child labour. The overriding purpose of the new instruments is to ensure that children in all countries, irrespective of their level of development, are protected from the worst forms of child labour. A new Convention and Recommendation were discussed for the first time at the International Labour Conference in June 1998 and adopted unanimously in June 1999.15 These are the Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention, 1999 (No. 182), and Recommendation, 1999 (No. 190).
15 Conference reports on the subject: ILO: Child labour: Targeting the intolerable, op. cit.; idem: Child labour, Report VI(2), International Labour Conference, 86th Session, Geneva, 1998; idem: "Report of the Committee on Child labour". Provisional Record No. 19, International Labour Conference, 86th Session, Geneva, 1998; idem: Child labour, Report IV(1), International Labour Conference, 87th Session, Geneva, 1999; idem: Child labour, Reports IV (2A) and (2B), International Labour Conference, 87th Session, Geneva 1999; idem: "Report of the Committee on Child Labour", Provisional Record Nos. 19, 19A, 19B and 26, International Labour Conference, 87th Session, Geneva, 1999.
The new Convention complements Convention No. 138. The basic obligation of ratifying States is to take immediate and effective measures to secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labour as a matter of urgency. The Recommendation gives further guidance for legislative and practical action. The new Convention is the only instrument focused on the worst forms of child labour. Immediate action for the elimination of such forms is the priority for national and international action towards the total abolition of child labour.
The Convention and Recommendation apply to all children under the age of 18 in conformity with the general age stipulated in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and the minimum age for hazardous work in ILO Convention No. 138. Unlike Convention No. 138, however, the new standards apply to all sectors of activity without the possibility of limiting their scope to certain sectors or branches of activity.
The expression "the worst forms of child labour" comprises:
• all forms of slavery and 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;
• the use, procuring or offering of a child for prostitution, for the production of pornography or for pornographic performances;
• the use, procuring or offering of a child for illicit activities, in particular for the production and trafficking of drugs; and
• 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.
It is difficult to designate specific work at the international level which, by its nature or the conditions in which it is performed, is likely to harm the health, safety or morals of children. Therefore, the Convention provides that governments are to determine which jobs or work are considered to be dangerous and which should be prohibited for children after consultation with the concerned employers and workers, and taking into consideration relevant international standards, in particular paragraphs 3 and 4 of the Recommendation. These paragraphs provide further guidance on which should be considered as hazardous work.
Box 2.19. Highlights of Convention No. 182 and Recommendation No. 190 on the worst forms of child labour
• covers children under age 18;
• requires immediate and effective measures for the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labour as a matter of urgency;
• includes as worst forms of child labour:
• slavery, forced labour, sale and trafficking of children; forced recruitment of children for use in armed conflict;
• use of children in prostitution, pornography, illicit activities; and
• hazardous work;
• requires effective enforcement, including penal or other sanctions;
• requires measures for prevention, removal, rehabilitation and social integration, and access to free basic education;
• requires taking account of the special situation of girls and other children at special risk;
• requires monitoring mechanisms and programmes of action; and
• provides for international cooperation and/or assistance.
The Recommendation encourages member States to:
• adopt national programmes of action which:
• identify and denounce the worst forms of child labour;
• protect the very young, girls, children in hidden work situations and other especially vulnerable children;
• include measures for prevention, removal, rehabilitation and social integration; and
• raise awareness and mobilize society;
• consider given criteria in determining hazardous work;
• establish monitoring mechanisms to ensure effective implementation;
• compile data;
• provide appropriate penalties and remedies;
• designate certain activities as criminal offences;
• consider a wide range of measures aimed at eliminating the worst forms of child labour; and
• cooperate with international efforts and enhance cooperation and/or assistance among members.
Box 2.20. Recommendation No. 190
In determining work which is likely to harm the health, safety or morals of children, consider:
(a) work which exposes children to physical, psychological or sexual abuse;
(b) work underground, under water, at dangerous heights or in confined spaces;
(c) work with dangerous machinery, equipment and tools, or which involves the manual handling or transport of heavy loads;
(d) work in an unhealthy environment which may, for example, expose children to hazardous substances, agents or processes, or to temperatures, noise levels, or vibrations damaging to their health;
(e) work under particularly difficult conditions such as work for long hours, or during the night or work where the child is unreasonably confined to the premises of the employer.
Work that might otherwise be considered hazardous could be authorized as from the age of 16 if the health, safety and morals of the children concerned are fully protected, and if the children have received adequate, specific instruction or vocational training in the relevant branch of activity.