Monday, September 05, 2011

Labor Day Resolution: Stop Child Labor!

Child labor is one of the most important problems that the world is facing right now. Although the issue is not included in the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), its significance has made it the imaginary ninth goal. The prevalence of child labor in developing countries is shocking despite international rules and regulations. In 2008, it has been estimated that there were 215 million children working illegally in the eyes of international law, almost 14% of all the world’s children under 18. This percentage was 25% for Sub-Saharan Africa. Countries that have a particularly high incidence of child labor are Nigeria, Malawi, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

Over the years the trend of child labor has shown a disappointing performance compared to other issues. This is due to the fact that child labor has always been an underestimated issue. The causes of child labor include poverty, migration and economic recession with poverty being the major cause. A number of countries in developing world are dependent on child labor for their economy. For example, the Uzbekistan government becomes an active agent in child labor by closing schools at harvest time. This institutionalized child abuse is evident despite international child labor laws outlined by International Labor Organization (ILO).

ILO has sponsored two key instruments of international law regarding child labor. First, the 1973 Minimum Age Convention 138 establishes the obligation for countries to work towards a minimum age of 15 for legal employment. Second, the 1999 Convention 182 for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labor calls on governments to identify and quantify the incidence of such child labor, backed by national plans for its elimination.

Although ILO plans to achieve this goal by 2016, we cannot be too optimistic about the outcome given the current situation. Let’s hope for a better result and raise awareness among people regarding the issue of child labor in this Labor Day.

-Nisha Noor