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October 10, 2004 

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International programme on the elimination of child labour

Global ratification campaign

International programme on the elimination of child labour, IPEC's aim is to work towards the progressive elimination of child labour by strengthening national capacities to address child labour problems, and by creating a worldwide movement to combat it.

IPEC's priority target groups are bonded child labourers, children in hazardous working conditions and occupations and children who are particularly vulnerable, i.e. very young working children (below 12 years of age), and working girls.

The political will and commitment of individual governments to address child labour in cooperation with employers' and workers' organizations, other NGOs and relevant parties in society such as universities and the media is the starting point for all IPEC action. Sustainability is built in from the start through an emphasis on in country "ownership". Support is given to partner organizations to develop and implement measures which aim at preventing child labour, withdrawing children from hazardous work and providing alternatives, and improving the working conditions as a transitional measure towards the elimination of child labour. A phased and multi-sectoral strategy is applied consisting of the following steps:

- Motivating a broad alliance of partners to acknowledge and act against child labour.
- Carrying out a situational analysis to find out about child labour problems in a country.
- Assisting with developing and implementing national policies on child labour problems.
- Strengthening existing organizations and setting up institutional mechanisms.
- Creating awareness on the problem nationwide, in communities and workplaces.
- Promoting the development and application of protective legislation.
- Supporting direct action with (potential) child workers for demonstration purposes.
- Replicating and expanding successful projects into the programmes of partners.
- Mainstreaming child labour issues into socio-economic policies, programmes and budgets.

By ratifying ILO Convention No. 182, Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention, 1999, the countries commit themselves to take immediate action to prohibit and eliminate the worst forms of child labour. This Convention is enjoying the fastest pace of ratifications in the ILO's history since 1919. In parallel, ILO Convention No.138, Concerning the minimum age for admission to employment, 1973, setting forth a larger framework for the longer-term objective of the effective abolition of child labour, has also been receiving a surge in ratifications. The increase in ratification of the Convention clearly demonstrates that support for the movement against child labour is growing very rapidly throughout the world.

In the last two years, hundreds of thousands of children throughout the world have taken part in the global march to ban child labour. Many reached the ILO in Geneva holding hands with adults who cared enough to join their quest in this 'impossible dream'. These girls and boys organized and advocated for themselves and on behalf of millions who could not present.

The Campaign is to bring an end to the worst forms of child labour that are stunting the lives of millions of girls and boys. Child labour is not jobs for kids. It is neither valuable work experience nor apprenticeship combined with schooling that enhances a child's present and future prospects. Child labour in its worst forms is abuse of power. It is adults exploiting the young, naive, innocent, weak, vulnerable and insecure for personal profit; although so many valuable efforts are going on, it is yet to be mustered enough courage and imagination to really go beyond chipping at the margins and actually stop it.

Intuitively, creating and ratifying a Convention for children's benefit is the easy part. The tougher part is finding ladders for them to climb out of the deep pits of violence and discrimination they live in.

Source: International Labour Organisation (ILO).

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