The case against a blanket minimum age of employment

Category: children's work| United Nations

1 Feb 2016

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The OpenDemocracy platform, on its Beyond Trafficking and Slavery pages, features an Open Letter endorsed by ‘over 50 leading academics, human rights practitioners, and advocates in the area of children and youth labour’. The letter urges the United Nations Committee on the Convention on the Rights of the Child ‘to avoid binding the proposed ‘General Comment on the Rights of Adolescents’ to the ILO Minimum Age Convention (No. 138) or the minimum age standards set out in that convention.’

The Open Letter also usefully rehearses the various arguments in the children’s work debate. This includes the main arguments commonly used by advocates of the minimum age of employment set out in ILO Convention No. 138, and the counterarguments. It also helpfully discusses some areas of conceptual confusion common to many a children’s work discussion, such as the problematic distinction between ‘children’s work’ and ‘child labour’. Lastly, whilst the signatories of the Open Letter are critical of the ILO Minimum Age Convention, they are in supportive of another ILO Convention: No 182 on the worst forms of child labour – provided that the full range of children’s rights is respected ‘including their protective rights such as their right to education as well as their participative rights such as their right to information, their right to participate in decisions that affect them, and their right to organize, among others. In addition, they also stress that ‘any application of ILO 182 in practice would need to take into consideration the local contexts where children work to ensure that children’s best interests are always served.’

See HERE for the full text of the Open Letter.

posted by Roy Huijsmans

 

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