Achievements in the Area of Child Labour

  • W. R. Böhning


The two core Conventions in this area aim to effectively abolish undesirable work by children. Convention No. 138 requires countries to fix the end of compulsory schooling as the minimum age for admission to employment and to raise it progressively where it is low, which reflects industrial nations’ experience in this field, buttressed by moral as well as human capital considerations.1 Many developing countries felt that this Convention did not suit their circumstances well. Most shunned ratification on grounds of traditions, lack of enforcement capacity and the — misguided — belief that it is better to have children help gain income in poor households than to have them at school. By the beginning of the gap system’s review period, January 1985, only 28 countries had ratified Convention No. 138, half of them were advanced or communist countries at the time. Since the early 1990s, perceived threats of trade sanctions on the part of the United States and the European Union on goods made by exploited children, the ILO Director-General’s ratification campaign since 1995 and the Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work of 1998 have greatly raised the number of ratifications. By the end of the review period in December 2004, 125 countries had adhered to Convention No. 138. But it remains the least ratified of all core Conventions, 21 per cent of the countries in the gap system have so far not taken that step.


Child Labour Indicator System Implementation Problem Trade Sanction Direct Request 
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© W. R. Böhning 2005

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  • W. R. Böhning

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