Child labour in Asia and the Pacific

The latest ILO Global report on Child Labour found that the number of working children under the age of 15 years in Asia and the Pacific declined by 5 million to 122.3 million from 2000 to 2004. Despite this positive development, the region still faces major challenges. The number of working children in Asia Pacific is by far the largest in the world and represents 18.8 per cent of the 650 million 5-14 year-olds in the region. Furthermore, progress in eliminating child labour is still modest compared to progress in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Many worst forms of child labour are still important concerns, including child trafficking, commercial sexual exploitation, bonded child labour, child domestic work, hazardous child labour and the recruitment and use of children for armed conflict or drug trafficking. A high tolerance for child labour in many countries and political volatility and conflict in certain others exacerbate the problem and has hindered the implementation of action against it. In addition, a large number of children in areas affected by natural disasters are vulnerable to entering child labour.

Strategies such as capacity building for social partners and IPEC implementing agencies, advocacy for adherence and implementation of ILO Conventions, awareness raising of the public and target groups and focused direct assistance are slowly but surely making inroads into the child labour problem. Awareness and support for the eradication of child labour in a comprehensive manner is on the rise. Seven countries in the region have set time-bound targets to end selected worst form of child labour and national time-bound programme projects are now being implemented to help reach these.

IPEC works to mainstream child labour into government policies, strategies, plans and budgets. Child labour issues have been included in the national Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers in Cambodia, Indonesia, Nepal and Pakistan, and mainstreaming is being pursued in other countries, such as the Philippines and Viet Nam. There are efforts to integrate child labour and trafficking concerns into Education for All initiatives in Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Pakistan, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and Viet Nam.

Regional Offices – web sites

Child Labour Country Dashboard

  1. The Child Labour Country Dashboard provide information from various sources to present a broad picture of the national child labour situation of a country and the main actions being taken to combat it. The legislation, policies and strategies covered by the Country Dashboard are listed below. All of them can contribute towards the elimination of child labour.

    By clicking on the country name at the right menu you will access to the country-specific information.

  1. Country legislation on child labour

    ILO Convention No. 138 on the minimum age, adopted in 1973, and ILO Convention No. 182 on the worst forms on child labour, adopted in 1999.

    The ILO Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations (CEACR) is mandated to provide an impartial and technical evaluation of the state of application of the ratified Conventions. The CEACR makes two kinds of comments: observations and direct requests. Observations contain comments on fundamental questions raised by the application of a particular convention by a state. Direct requests relate to more technical questions or requests for further information.

    The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), adopted in 1989, contains a range of international rights for children. Article 32 of the Convention addresses child labour. CRC has two Optional Protocols, adopted in 2000, one concerns the involvement of children in armed conflict, and the second concerns the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography.

    The Committee on the Rights of the Child is mandated to monitor and report on the implementation of the CRC and its Optional Protocols. The Committee then provides concluding observations.

    The national legislation on child labour provided here comes from the ILO Natlex database.

  2. Country policies on child labour

    The UN Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) is a programme framework between a government and the UN Country Team (UNCT) that describes the collective response of the UN system to the achievement of national development priorities and results. Usually the UNDAF is developed on the basis of a National Development Plan (NDP).

    The ILO Decent Work Country Programme (DWCP) is the ILO contribution to the UN country assistance. It describes the ILO support at the country level towards the goal of decent work for all women and men, including the support to develop and implement National Action Plans (NAPs) to combat child labour.

    The Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP) outlines a country programme for poverty reduction to allow it to obtain funding from the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank for support. The policy and programmes prescriptions in PRSPs can have a direct and/or indirect impact on the child labour situation in the country.

    The Global Partnership for Education (GPE) is a multi-stakeholder partnership that seek to ensure accelerated progress in developing countries towards achieving the SDG 4 which call for inclusive, equitable quality education for all by 2030.