Time-bound programmes (TBP)

Time-bound programmes for the elimination of the worst Forms of child labour

ILO Convention No. 182 calls for time-bound measures to eliminate the worst forms of child labour. Countries ratifying this Convention must take immediate and effective measures to secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labour as a matter of urgency, including time-bound measures to:

  • prevent the engagement of children in the worst forms of child labour;
  • provide direct assistance for the removal of children from the worst forms of child labour and for their rehabilitation and social integration;
  • ensure access to free basic education and appropriate vocational training for all children removed from the worst forms of child labour;
  • identify and reach out to children at special risk; and
  • take account of the special situation of girls.

(Source - ILO Convention No. 182, Articles 1 and 7).

The time-bound programme (TBP) approach constitutes one of the means put in place by IPEC to assist countries in fulfilling their obligations under the Convention.

Time-bound programmes are designed as a comprehensive framework that governments can use to chart a course of action with well-defined targets. They comprise a set of integrated and coordinated policies and interventions with clear goals, specific targets and a defined time frame, aimed at preventing and eliminating a country’s worst forms of child labour. They emphasize the need to address the root causes of child labour, linking action for its elimination to national development policies, macro-economic trends and strategies, and demographic and labour market processes and outcomes, with particular emphasis on economic and social policies to combat poverty and to promote universal basic education and social mobilization. The TBPs’ time horizon is set in accordance with the prevalence of the worst forms of child labour, the availability of resources, the level of local expertise and other conditions prevailing in the country.

Focusing heavily on the rapid elimination of the worst forms of child labour, the TBP approach represents a logical progression of IPEC’s work to date while drawing on the experience that has been accumulating since the programme’s inception. TBPs pull together many of the successful approaches piloted by IPEC and others in the past into a comprehensive and scaled-up programme combining upstream policy-oriented interventions covering awareness raising, legislation and enforcement, education, employment and social protection with withdrawal and rehabilitation interventions. IPEC sees the TBP as a key strategic approach for attaining large-scale impact on the worst forms of child labour.

Why focus on the worst forms?

There is not only a consensus that targeting the worst forms is morally justified, but experience has shown that it is also an effective way to mobilize society to address the problem of child labour in general. Successful measures against the worst forms often have a multiplier effect that benefits other working children. Once governments and civil society begin focusing on the worst forms of child labour, broad discussions about the acceptability of other forms of child labour and the feasibility of eliminating them tend to follow as well.

Indeed, this thinking was a major motivation behind the adoption of ILO Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention No. 182. Member States that ratify this Convention commit themselves to prohibit and eliminate the worst forms of child labour as a matter of urgency through time-bound measures. The exceptionally rapid rate of ratification of Convention No. 182 – 163 of the ILO’s 180 member States as of June 2007 – means that an ever-growing number of governments are committed to eradicating the WFCL as quickly as possible and preventing them in the future. The TBP approach is intended to assist them in this task within a specific timeframe.