The Role of International Law in the Elimination of Child Labor

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The nongovernmental sector has only limited capacity to help monitor the participation of children in the carpet industry. This allows female monitors in Afghanistan to gain access to the carpet-weaving households. A GoodWeave representative explained:. GoodWeave uses its access to persuade families to send their children to local schools, community-based classes or, in case of girls, GoodWeave-run homeschools. I have hurt my hands five times. My fingers have been cut from the sharp edges of the metal and slammed by the hammer. My finger has also been caught in the trimming-beading machine.

When your nail gets hit by a hammer or caught in the machine, it becomes black and eventually falls off.

About the International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC) (IPEC)

Children working in the metalwork industry in Afghanistan are engaged as apprentices making items such as gates, doors, water tankers, and windows. Children start early in this trade. According to an ILO survey, more than 60 percent of the child metal workers in Kabul started work between 5 and 11 years of age. Other risks include unprotected welding, which may result in severe burns and vision problems. Human Rights Watch also found that, beginning in their teenage years, children routinely carry out the full range of often hazardous tasks in metal work. They cut metal sheets using sharp metal cutters designed for adult hands, weld metal parts together, and carry and stack metal gates and window frames.

Sajjad, 13, has been a sheet metal worker for three years. He works six hours a day and goes to school in the morning. Sajjad told Human Rights Watch that during his work day he routinely receives cuts, including a major injury sustained in Sajjad said that local clinic bandaged the wound. The scar, approximately five centimeters long, is still visible on his shin. Sayed Omid, 18, owns a sheet metal workshop and has worked in the trade since he was 6.

The Afghan government prohibits children from working at heights above three meters, and from welding, cutting, and using trimming-beading machines. But there is no evidence that any of these provisions is enforced and children too often are asked to perform such tasks, making much of the work in the metal sector illegal. The Labor Ministry has primary responsibility for enforcing labor laws but has limited resources to inspect workplaces.

Over the last four years, CPAN has helped an average of 3, children a year. In and , the government of Afghanistan, in collaboration with the ILO, began drafting a revised labor law to bring it in line with the ILO standards Afghanistan had ratified. In February , Labor Ministry published a list of nine sectors and 19 jobs where child labor was prohibited because the work was injurious to the health and wellbeing of children. As a result, the Labor Ministry lacks sufficient legal authority to enforce laws related to child labor.

Since , the Ministry of Justice, in coordination with UNICEF, has been drafting new legislation, the Child Act, to legally codify issues of child protection and address issues including trafficking, custody, sexual exploitation, education, and labor. With technical assistance from UNICEF and other organizations, the government has also developed a National Strategy for Children at Risk, and a National Action Plan for Street Working Children, aimed at providing social services to children, protecting children engaged in labor, and preventing children from working on the streets.

However, resource constraints represent only part of the problem. A lack of coordination within the government also hinders effective enforcement of existing labor laws. The lack of coordination in the mining industry exemplifies the problem. In addition, if the Mines and Petroleum Ministry shuts down an unlicensed mining operation, it lacks the structural coordination to refer any children who might be employed in that mine to the Labor Ministry for necessary social welfare support such as educational assistance, health checks, or psychological counseling.

Afghan government data indicates that as of mid, 50 national and international NGOs were working in child protection and welfare services across Afghanistan. But a Labor Ministry official and NGO representatives told Human Rights Watch that more systematic and efficient cooperation between them is necessary to avoid gaps in services and duplication of efforts. The government of Afghanistan has failed to enforce prohibitions against child labor in hazardous industries, and has stalled in its effort to overhaul its own labor law to bring it into line with international standards.

Government institutions responsible for enforcing the law lack the capacity to carry out inspections of workplaces, with the result that children working in prohibited lines of work go unnoticed and unprotected. Although pilot projects extending community-based schools to reach vulnerable children have been promising, support for these schools is inadequate to the need.

Eradicating child labor in Afghanistan is not feasible so long as extreme poverty continues, but the government and its donors can and should take immediate steps to eliminate hazardous child labor and protect children from the risks associated with working in particularly dangerous or unhealthy conditions. They should also devote more resources to expanding educational support to all working children. James Ross, legal and policy director, and Joseph Saunders, deputy program director, provided.

Production assistance was provided by Daniel Lee, associate with the Asia division; Olivia Hunter, publications associate; and Fitzroy Hepkins, administrative manager. The killers apparently targeted Wasil because he fought with a government-supported militia, the Afghan Local Police. Skip to main content. July 14, June 30, Summary Yes, [the child workers] complain of pain, but what can they do? Bibliography Includes bibliographical references p. It addresses a broad range of subdisciplines, analyzing child labor in the context of social, economic, and cultural issues.

The first part of the book traces the development of contemporary law relating to child labor, specifically addressing child slavery, child sexual exploitation, and the use of child soldiers. Part II is devoted to observance and enforcement, discussing state and private reporting mechanisms, complaint procedures, and sanctions. International law. Bibliographic information.

Publication date Series The procedural aspects of international law monograph series ; v. Browse related items Start at call number: K C85 Librarian view Catkey: The Committee, however, underscored the need for taking proper socio-economic measures to improve the conditions of children and ensuring the fulfilment of their basic needs. The Committee expressed the view that there is a need for enhancing the budgetary allocation towards child welfare; and also the economical and efficient distribution of present resources manpower and material for the purpose. It stated that allocation from Zakat Fund and Bait-ul-Mal should be prudently used for child welfare and development schemes.

The Committee supported the view of introducing legislation for compulsory elementary education, on the pattern of the Punjab, in the other provinces. Such legislation should be duly enforced and measures introduced to help the poor families and induce them to send their children to schools.


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The Report of the Committee came up for consideration before the Commission in its meeting on 19 December The Commission approved the steps suggested by its Committee. Accordingly, it requested the Committee on Child Labour to examine the issue with a view to suggesting an authoritative definition of child for employment.

The Commission desired that two other members from the Council of Islamic Ideology to be nominated by its Chairman might also assist the Committee on Child Labour in its task. The Commission appreciated the fact that the Government of Pakistan, in collaboration with the International Labour Organisation, has recently carried out a national survey to determine the quantum of child labour in the country.

The findings show that the issue of child labour in Pakistan is not as acute as is often projected. It appears that the issue is exploited by the vested interests to gain unfair trade advantages. The Commission, however, laid stress on sustained and concerted efforts for addressing the issue in a serious manner; for evolving proper laws and devising effective implementation procedure for the elimination of child labour. It further recommended that, in keeping with modern developments and scientific know-how, the list of hazardous occupations as well as Schedule of Employment of Child Act should be regularly reviewed and updated.

With these observations, and subject to the recommendations formulated by the Committee on Child Labour in its meeting held on 7 October , the Commission approved the report on Elimination of Child Labour. The proposal of enhancing the prescribed age limit for child labour again came up for consideration before the Commission in its meeting held on 14 March The Commission requested its Committee on Child Labour to expedite their deliberations on the subject and submit a report at the earliest.

After thorough deliberations of the issue, the Committee resolved as follows:. Islam contains clear and unambiguous injunctions with regard to child survival, protection, development and welfare. Islamic injunctions stipulate that children must be protected and shielded against any harm to their body, mind or property, and that they should be saved from abuse and exploitation. According to Imam Abu Hanifa, a person aged 25 years shall be treated as adult for exercising financial independence and handling civil or commercial transactions.

As per a famous tradition ascribed to Hazrat Abdullah Bin Umar the Prophet of Islam declined the request of Hazrat Abdullah to join the battle of Uhad but granted him permission to join the battle of Ditch. According to Hazrat Asbdullah, he was 14 years old at the time of battle of Uhad but was over 15 at the time of the battle of Ditch. This tradition is said to have persuaded Caliph Umar Bin Abdul Aziz to prescribe 15 years as the age for attaining adulthood. Thus, it is permissible for the enhancement of age limit for the purpose of employment from 14 to 15 years. Due to strong emphasis on the welfare and protection of children, appropriate measures may be prescribed for the purpose and such measures shall be legitimate and valid.

Different ages might be prescribed for conferring civil rights and fixing criminal liability. It should be ensured that children are not made to work in factories or hazardous occupations or any such employment, which is morally or physically or psychologically inappropriate for children. Thus, the age limit for employment can be enhanced to 15 years.

The Pakistan Law Commission may also consider proposing draft legislation for the protection of children in domestic service. In this respect, certain parameters can be fixed and guidelines prescribed for ensuring the formal and religious education of such working children. The Commission may further propose an appropriate draft for protecting and safeguarding the property and financial interest of children, ensuring that there is no exploitation or misuse of their property and further that their assets and income are exclusively utilized for their welfare and benefit.

The Commission in its meeting held on 29 May , considered the report of its Committee and approved its recommendations. The Commission recommended that the age limit for employment should be enhanced from 14 to 15 years. Non-observance by State of minimum standard of civilised behaviour in the treatment of humans and the resulting violations of their fundamental rights is recognised as a major cause of international conflicts and tensions. As civilisation advanced and human consciousness increased, more and more attention was directed towards tackling the underlying factors and currents responsible for the recurring crises and conflicts in the World.

Consequently, several national and international instruments were formulated which provided for respect for and observance of human rights. Such instruments, inter alia, speak of the rights and welfare of children. The Covenant of the League of Nations, taking due notice of the exploitative nature of the then prevailing World economic order, obliged the Member States to strive for creating and maintaining "fair and humane conditions of labour for men, women and children", [i] and demanded of its members to "entrust the League with the general supervision over the execution of agreements with regard to trafficking in women and children".

In the Charter, the peoples of the United Nations reaffirmed their "faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity of human person and equal rights of men and women" [iii] and obligated the Organisation to work for promoting "respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms without discrimination".

This general commitment to the preservation and protection of human rights was further augmented by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights , adopted unanimously by the General Assembly of the United Nations. The Declaration, besides having implicit provisions on the rights and liberties of children, also contains some specific provisions as regards the rights and interests of children.

Accordingly, it proclaims that childhood is entitled to "special care and assistance", and that all children without any distinction or discrimination shall enjoy "social protection". It also obliges the Parties to ensure equal access to such institutions.

“They Bear All the Pain”

The Declaration an historic document setting the standards for achievements in the field of human rights -- had a wide influence on the global human rights movement and inspired several national as well as regional and international human rights instruments. Such instruments include the two international covenants on human rights i.

The international covenants contain specific safeguards for the welfare and protection of children. The Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights states that State protection and assistance should be provided to the family, particularly parents be assisted in educating their children; and working mothers should be given maternity benefits. The Covenant prohibits the economic and social exploitation of children and forbids their employment in harmful or dangerous professions or occupations.

The Covenant further recommends that State Parties should fix a minimum age below which the employment of children should be prohibited, and such prohibition must be enforced by law. Apart from the enactment of general international human rights instruments, certain other instruments of specialised character, focusing exclusively on child rights, were also adopted. These include the Geneva Declaration of the Rights of Child This five-point Declaration by the League of Nations affirmed the need for special care with a view to further enlarging its scope and content. The revised draft, called, the Declaration on the Rights of the Child was unanimously adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations.

Enumerating certain essential rights of the child, the Declaration obliged the family, society and government and non-government organisations to work for the realisation and enforcement of such rights. The Convention. With a view to focus attention on the problems of neglect, abuse and exploitation of children and in order to mobilise support for taking additional measures for their welfare, the international community observed the year , as the International year of the Child. This year, Poland presented a proposal for a new and more comprehensive international convention on the rights of the child.

The proposal received favourable response and soon consultations started for drafting such an instrument. The deliberations stretched over a decade, and after hectic efforts and intricate negotiations a final draft was agreed upon. The draft was presented to the General Assembly and received its unanimous approval on 20 November The draft Convention was then put up for ratification. Nine months later, the Convention received the required number 20 of ratification.

On 2 September , it came into force. This was the speediest entry into force of any international human rights treaty. This speed and momentum was retained in the subsequent years.

To Foreign Donors and UN Agencies

Thus, by 30 June , State Parties had ratified the Convention. That the Convention received so overwhelming a response, in such a brief period of time, demonstrates the concern of international community towards the on-going neglect, deprivation and exploitation of children, and reflects its determination to take urgent and effective measures for improving their status and conditions of life.

Seen in this context, the Convention is indeed a noble and laudable achievement of mankind, setting worthy principles and ideals to be realised. That Pakistan is an earlier signatory [xii] to the document is a matter of pride and honour, but ratification also entails responsibility. Ratification of an international instrument implies the State Party's solemn commitment to feel bound by its provisions and bring its legislation in conformity with such provisions. It further obliges the State Party to enforce and implement the same.

It has been more than 8 years since the Government conveyed its ratification of the Convention to the General Secretary of the United Nations. It analyses the legislation recently enacted, apparently in compliance with the directions stipulated in the Convention, and examines its impact on the life and status of children. The draft further suggests administrative steps and social measures for eliminating child labour.

The scope of the Convention is fairly wide and comprehensive. It includes all essential civil, social, educational, economic, health and cultural rights, regarded crucial for a civilised existence.


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The Convention also guarantees certain essential fundamental freedoms, such as the freedom of conscience, thought, expression, information, association, religion etc, regarded vital for the harmonious development of human personality. The Convention contains safeguards against neglect, discrimination, abuse, deprivation, exploitation, torture, cruelty, maltreatment and other cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment; and provides for the due care, protection and rehabilitation of the victims of such excesses.

The Convention obliges the individuals parents, guardians , legislative bodies, executive authorities and judicial tribunals, that while taking any action, their primary consideration should be to secure the "best interest of the child". Accordingly, the Convention obliges the State Parties that while deciding upon measures of child welfare, the views of the child must be obtained and given due weight.

Child Labour. The convention [xv] obliges the State Parties to take appropriate legislative, administrative, social and educational measures so as to protect children from economic exploitation. As per the Convention and other international human rights instruments, the measures required to be taken include:. Article 32 of the Convention. The reference to "other international instruments" is significant in that the State Party by ratifying the Convention, impliedly accepts the related provisions in other international instruments; e. Elsewhere too, the Convention provides that when other higher national or international standards, relevant to the rights of the child, are available, the State Party shall adopt such higher standards.

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