Child labor

DSC04152_MayasariIn many countries, adults are not the only ones working for pay, especially in low-income families. According to the International Labor Organization, there are more than 200 million child laborers worldwide. Many of these children are performing hazardous work; many others are involved in labor that erodes their educational chances.

The evidence clearly supports the need to control child labor by preventing full-time work, work that conflicts with school, and hazardous work. In order to understand what countries are doing to protect children we collected information about government policies and laws surrounding child labor, including provisions related to hazardous work, general employment, working conditions, night work, and time off.

Topics covered include:

Types of Work: Hazardous, General, and Light Work

Hours of work

  • Prohibitions of night work or overtime work*

*Note: Data for starred sub-topics is forthcoming.

There are a number of international conventions which contain agreements regarding child labor, including the UN Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) (1948); the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) (1989); the ILO Minimum Age Convention, C-138 (1973); the ILO Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention, C-182 (1999); and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) (1966).

The Convention on the Rights of the Child, ratified by all but three UN member states, clearly articulates boys’ and girls’ right to be free from working long hours during childhood. Article 32 of the convention affirms that “States Parties recognize the right of the child to be protected from economic exploitation and from performing any work that is likely to be hazardous or to interfere with the child’s education, or to be harmful to the child’s health or physical, mental, spiritual, moral or social development.”