Child labour in Arab States

In the Arab States, children and young adults make up half the population of 280 million. An estimated 13.4 million, or about 15 per cent, of all children in the region are child labourers. The real level of child labour may be much higher, however, because of the predominance of child labour in the informal sector, which is difficult to measure. Work in the urban informal sector, seasonal agriculture, street work, domestic labour as well as are of particular concern. Gender inequality affecting the enrolment of girls in school is also an important issue influencing child labour.

One of the most predominant worst forms of child labour in the Arab States is child trafficking, and efforts to address the issue are underway in several countries. The Government of Yemen has signed trafficking agreements with neighbouring countries, provided training to security and border officials on how to recognize and care for trafficked children, raised awareness among parents about the dangers of child trafficking, and established a reception and rehabilitation centre on the border with Saudi Arabia for returned child victims. The United Arab Emirates is trying to return children involved in camel racing, many of them victims of trafficking, back to their home countries. The draft Constitution of Iraq includes prohibitions on trafficking of children.

IPEC is supporting the Governments of Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and Yemen to adopt and implement an explicit child labour policy and to directly withdraw children from child labour in line with the objective to reach an end to the worst forms of child labour by the year 2016.

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.