Thais Mobilize to Combat the Worst Forms of Child Labour

The ILO brings together hundreds of specialists in a national workshop to determine what steps Thailand must take to eliminate the worst forms of child labour and to ratify the ILO Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention (No. 182).

Press release | BANGKOK | 20 April 2000

BANGKOK (ILO News) - Child prostitutes, girls and boys working in conditions fraught with physical and moral hazards, and children trafficked for use in beggar-gangs or the drugs trade are among thousands of children in Thailand estimated to be entrapped in what the International Labour Organization (ILO) calls the "worst forms of child labour"

On Friday 21 April the ILO brings together in a national workshop in Bangkok some 100 high-ranking specialists from Thai government, industry, labour and academic circles as well as the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), UNICEF and non-governmental organizations to determine what steps must be taken to eliminate the worst forms of child labour and ratify the Organization�s new Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention (No. 182).

In discussions with ILO Director-General Juan Somavia last February Prime Minister Chuan Leekpai expressed interest in early ratification of Convention 182.

The Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention is the first in the ILO's 80-year history to be approved - in June of 1999 - by its (then 174, now 175) member States in a unanimous vote.

The Convention, of which United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson has become a zealous advocate, lays a duty on ratifying States to take 'immediate and effective measures" to ban and do away with the worst forms of child labour "as a matter of urgency".

The steps to be taken range from consultative to legislative and economic. "We cannot eliminate child labour without effective programmes to eradicate poverty and promote universal education", ILO Asia-Pacific Regional Director Mitsuko Horiuchi observes.

The workshop, which Ms Horiuchi and Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare Permanent Secretary Prasong Rananand will open, is to hear a keynote address by Dr Saisuree Chutikul, who chairs the National Youth Bureau�s Committee on the Eradication of Trafficking in Women and Children.

Among specific topics of discussion are ways to reduce labour exploitation of children within the ambit of a new ILO project to combat the trafficking of women and children in the Greater Mekong; changes to the legal framework needed to permit ratification; and, more importantly, implementation of 182.

Under the ILO's unique tripartite structure, workers', employers' and government voices have equal importance. All three will be prominent in a panel discussion on how to ensure early ratification of 182 under the chairmanship of Inspector-General Thapabutr Jamasevi of the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare.