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UNICEF and ILO in Joint Fight Against Child Labour


Press release | 08 October 1996


GENEVA (ILO News) - UNICEF and the International Labour Organization (ILO) have announced plans to strengthen their cooperation in the global fight against child labour.

In a “Letter of Intent” signed today at ILO Headquarters in Geneva by Mrs. Carol Bellamy, Executive Director of UNICEF and Mr. Michel Hansenne, Director-General of the ILO, the two organizations agreed to take steps “to ensure coherent positions on policy and practice in regard to child labour” and “to cooperate in all countries” where field activities are undertaken.

The two organizations will “continue to encourage member States to ratify and implement relevant international labour standards” on child labour and to cooperate in identifying the obstacles, where they exist, to their ratification and effective implementation.

The Minimum Age Convention, 1973 (No. 138) is the ILO's main instrument on Child Labour. The ILO however is currently working on a new draft Convention targeting the most abusive and intolerable forms of child labour including child prostitution, work involving toxic substances and other unsafe practices and environments.

The ILO estimates that some 73 million children between the ages of 10 and 14 are working worldwide, representing 13 per cent of all children in that age group. No credible statistics are available on working children below the age of 10.

The ILO's ongoing offensive against child labour includes a technical cooperation programme designed to help countries build up a permanent capacity to address the problem, the International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC).

IPEC activities are targeted, in the first instance, on three priority groups:

  • children working under forced labour conditions and in bondage;
  • children in hazardous working conditions and occupations;
  • very young working children (under 12 years of age).

Within these groups, IPEC pays special attention to working girls because of their particular vulnerability to exploitation and abuse.

ILO-IPEC is now operational on three continents and 23 countries. Endnote Extensive and effective cooperation between ILO and UNICEF has long existed in several of these countries, notably in Bangladesh, Brazil, Pakistan, and more recently in Chile, Egypt and Paraguay.


Bangladesh, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Egypt, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Nepal, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, the Philippines, Peru, Thailand, Turkey, the United Republic of Tanzania, and Venezuela.