ILO is a specialized agency of the United Nations

268th Session
Geneva, March 1997

  Committee on Employment and Social Policy ESP  


Child labour



Programme activities, 1996-97



  1. Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) on Child Labour: Status as at February 1997
  2. Total contributions pledged, 1992-2001, and amounts received as at 31 anuary 1997, by donor and by country/technical programme
  3. Letter of intent between the ILO and UNICEF


1. The purpose of this paper, which supplements the comprehensive information previously provided to the Committee on Employment and Social Policy,(1) is to keep the Committee fully informed of progress in the ILO's ongoing work on the elimination of child labour and its involvement in related international developments.

2. It can be reasonably claimed that the past 12-month period has witnessed activity on a scale and of an intensity never before achieved in this field. The Governing Body triggered this dynamic advance by its decision, at its 265th Session in March 1996, to place child labour on the agenda of the 1998 International Labour Conference with a view to the adoption of new international labour standards, placing priority on immediate action to halt the most intolerable forms of child labour, a decision endorsed by the resolution adopted by the Conference three months later. An account of initiatives taken by the Office to give effect to the decision is given below.

3. This important move to reinforce ILO standards on child labour is accompanied by a crystallization of strategic approaches. New policy perspectives are emerging, combining a series of key components: focus on the most intolerable abuses, determined action by means of a time-bound programme, a practical programmatic structure through the designation of a responsible authority and emphasis on prevention, withdrawal and rehabilitation, firm linkage to international cooperation rather than confrontation, and overall emphasis on upholding the rights of the child.

4. The third salient development reflected in the paper is the rapid growth in operational activities under the ILO's International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC) and the accompanying level of international support that IPEC is attracting. The significance of this progress, as an indicator of both the willingness of countries to take action against child labour in their societies and of the commitment of the international community to a global offensive against child labour, will be readily apparent to the Committee. These developments also testify to the stage of maturity that has now been reached in the operational sphere. Methodologies are evolving from a necessary initial phase of experimental field testing as a well-proven framework for workable national programmes of action, enlisting all the social partners. Ideally, this strategy should be integrated into national socio-economic policies that give high priority to employment generation and poverty alleviation as essential factors in the long-term prevention of child labour. At the same time, field programmes are beginning to move into more complex and challenging areas, notably trafficking, bonded labour, plantations and domestic service. Practical experience being gained by the Organization's constituents in implementing and further refining this strategy will doubtless be channelled, to good effect, into the preparatory formulation process of the proposed new standards.

Programme activities, 1996-97

5. The ILO's fight against child labour gained considerable momentum in 1996 with regard to both its major means of action, namely standard setting and direct action under the International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour, as well as the reinforcement of international solidarity. These developments are reviewed below.

A. International labour standards:
A framework for policies and programmes

6. The International Labour Code provides a powerful set of internationally agreed policy guidelines on the protection of children and young workers. The great majority of the ILO's member States (133 out of 174) have ratified one or more of the instruments in this specific field. To date, 52 States have ratified Convention No. 138. In 1996, Nepal ratified Convention No. 138 and the Philippines has made a firm commitment to ratify. Other countries, notably Argentina, Bolivia and Kuwait, are expected to take the necessary steps for ratification in the near future.

7. The conviction has grown rapidly in recent years that within the context of a vigorous ongoing programme for the elimination of child labour generally, there should be a special concentration of effort on the eradication of its most extreme manifestations. Determination to move swiftly in this direction motivated the Governing Body's decision at its 265th Session (March 1996) to place child labour on the agenda of the 1998 Session of the International Labour Conference with a view to the adoption of new international labour standards under the double discussion procedure. The proposed new standards should place priority on immediate action to halt the most intolerable forms of child labour. The decision was welcomed in a resolution concerning the elimination of child labour adopted by the 83rd Session of the International Labour Conference in June 1996. At that session child labour was the subject of discussion at an Informal Tripartite Meeting at the Ministerial Level. Many participants added their support for new standards aimed at eradicating the most intolerable forms of child labour. At the same time, it was also stressed that new standard setting was not to imply that existing child labour Conventions would be weakened, but rather that the worst forms of child labour would be given focus, thereby setting the priorities for action in the fight against child labour. Bearing in mind that the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and other international instruments contained relevant provisions, it was none the less felt that a new ILO instrument specifically aimed at preventing and stopping the worst forms of child labour could enhance national and international action, bring the weight of the ILO's supervisory machinery to bear on compliance, and ensure fuller integration of the priorities of the ILO's International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour in ILO standards.

8. The Office proceeded without delay with the preparation of the report required for the first discussion at the 1998 Conference. Entitled Child labour: Targeting the intolerable, the report(2) was published in November 1996 and distributed in the normal manner. It was accompanied by a questionnaire(3) seeking the views of governments, in consultation with employers' and workers' organizations, on the possible scope and content of the proposed instrument(s).

9. Drawing on ILO experience in this field, including that of IPEC and other initiatives, the report chronicles the exploitation and abuse of working children -- now estimated to number some 250 million worldwide -- surveys international and national law and practice, and points the way toward effective practical action to remove children from the most intolerable forms of exploitation. These are defined as slavery and slave-like practices and forced labour, including debt bondage; the use and trafficking of children for commercial sexual exploitation and in the drugs trade; domestic service; and all occupations hazardous to a child's health, safety and morals. The report argues firmly for the creation of new standards -- complementing existing instruments -- giving highest priority to the immediate suppression of these extreme forms of exploitation in the context of a time-bound programme of action to eliminate child labour. It advocates the prohibition of work for the very young (those under 12 or 13 years of age) and special protection for girls. Crime against a child anywhere should be made a crime everywhere, it states. The report also calls for preventive action, rehabilitation measures to ensure the permanent exclusion of children from hazardous work, the designation of a national authority responsible for child labour, and increased financial aid for the fight against child labour.

10. A special media campaign mounted by the Bureau of Public Information to launch the report, including news conferences and interviews in major news centres internationally, achieved exceptionally widespread public exposure for the report and editorial comment on the gravity of the problem and the ILO's concern to overcome it. The public awareness it has aroused can only be beneficial not only to the preparatory process for the finalization of the proposal standards, but also to the entirety of the IPEC programme. This followed a similar media operation on child labour in June 1996, which included a multilingual information kit and distribution of a 60-minute documentary film, I am a child, in numerous language versions, and this helped create a climate of public awareness conducive to the favourable reception of the report. Lastly, the report is being used as a central source document in forthcoming international meetings, indicated below, the work of which can potentially contribute to the standard-setting exercise.

B. Direct action: Targeting the intolerable

11. The IPEC programme has been designed as a "direct action" programme to assist member States in their efforts for the progressive elimination of child labour in the context of ILO standards. To this effect, IPEC is entering into long-term commitments with member States through a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in a joint effort to build up their capacity in finding long-term solutions to the child labour problem. During the reporting period, twelve countries signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the ILO; ten of these are in Latin America, where activities are expanding thanks to a substantial contribution from Spain. By March 1997, all countries where the original Memorandum of Understanding was valid until 1996 had signed an extension. By that date, a total of 23 countries had joined IPEC in formal agreements, thereby committing themselves to start or to continue country programmes against child labour. A list of MOUs is given in Appendix I. In addition to the countries where formal agreements exist -- termed participating countries -- IPEC is cooperating with numerous other "preparatory" countries in various ways, ranging from studies and surveys to capacity-building and training.

12. The year 1996 saw a shift in emphasis towards designing and implementing national policies and programmes of action, focusing on the most intolerable forms of child labour. IPEC action places priority on children working under forced labour conditions and in bondage; on children working in hazardous conditions and occupations; and on children who are particularly vulnerable, namely very young working children (under 12 years of age) and working girls. Action against the commercial sexual exploitation of children was stepped up. At the national level, action programmes against child prostitution were ongoing in seven countries, and funds have now been committed by the Government of the United Kingdom for a regional programme in Asia on the trafficking of children for prostitution and other forms of child labour. At the international level, IPEC actively contributed to the World Congress Against the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children, held in Sweden in August 1996, participating as an adviser in the Planning Committee for the Congress.

Country programmes: A broad social alliance

13. In all participating countries IPEC action programmes are among the ILO's most substantial activities. They have a high profile because such activities have placed the issue of child labour high on the national agenda and commanded great attention from governments, employers, workers, NGOs, the media and donor representatives. Each of the IPEC programmes has its own characteristics, priorities and dynamics: many action programmes on community-based social mobilization, non-formal training and awareness-raising have been implemented in cooperation with NGOs, which have made a broad and rich contribution to IPEC programmes; capacity-building activities in such areas as labour legislation, administration and inspection or statistics have been implemented in cooperation with government agencies; and a broad range of studies have been carried out through universities and labour research institutions. Statistical data collected has contributed substantially to policy formulation. Statistical surveys undertaken with the aid of the Bureau of Statistics in Bangladesh, Pakistan and the Philippines were completed, and preparations were made for a survey in South Africa. Child labour surveys are in progress in Cambodia and Nepal. Increasingly, employers' and workers' organizations have taken an active interest and have become involved primarily through awareness raising or direct action. A strong point of the programme remains its emphasis on diversity and flexibility; this facilitates a quick response to specific in-country needs and the identification of tailor-made solutions. Emphasis is placed on sustainability and the need to place child labour issues in the mainstream of national policies, programmes and budgets.

Role of governments: Country ownership and mainstreaming

14. In many participating countries, governments have taken the lead in formulating National Programmes of Action on Child Labour in close consultation with employers, workers, NGOs and other concerned parties. All child labour activities in a participating country should be encompassed by such a programme, which provides a general frame of reference with a high awareness-raising effect. Fitting within national development plans, such programmes are important for mainstreaming, sustainability and accountability purposes and should also incorporate follow-up mechanisms.

15. The National Steering Committee (NSC) which guides the in-country IPEC programme is of great importance on account of its responsibilities for identifying and approving action programmes. Naturally, the Committee's effectiveness largely depends on the interest and dynamism of its members. This system seems to be working well in bringing focus to IPEC programmes and facilitating interaction and networking between ILO partners. In addition, the NSC is of practical importance in regard to the sustainability and "country ownership" of child labour programmes, since IPEC involvement is limited in time and resources.

16. In response to a growing demand for assistance, IPEC stepped up preparations for the launch of new country programmes in Cambodia, Ethiopia, Madagascar, Senegal and Sri Lanka, and in Argentina, Ecuador and Honduras, which have signed MOUs or intend to do so. Fact-finding missions have been fielded to Arab countries to map out the parameters for future programmes.

Employers' organizations: Social responsibility

17. At the international level, the International Organization of Employers (IOE) stepped up its efforts to fight hazardous and exploitative child labour through a resolution adopted by its General Council on 3 June 1996, calling on its members to raise awareness of the human, economic and social costs of child labour and to develop action plans that give practical effect to their child labour policies. Many of the IOE member federations have subsequently moved to put these intentions into action: the Employers' Federation of Pakistan is working with the Office to organize in May 1997 a two-day High-level National Conference on Child Labour. IPEC is also supporting an action programme to be implemented by the Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry to identify the role of employers in Nepal and possible action by them against child labour. The regional meeting of the South Asian Employers in Dhaka, Bangladesh (1-2 March 1997) was highlighted by a discussion of what employers' organizations in the subregion can do together to address the issue of child labour. IPEC has received many expressions of support for further work with employers' organizations in other regions. These initiatives will be compiled in an "Employers' Handbook on child labour" on which ACTEMP, the IOE, and IPEC are closely collaborating.

18. In the corporate world, dozens of well-known companies based in the industrialized countries of Europe, North America and the Pacific region have adopted "codes of conduct" to demonstrate their commitment not to use child labour. While the development of codes of conduct and other measures to combat child labour remain subjects of lively debate, this trend nevertheless reflects the growing awareness on the part of the international business community that child labour considerations must play a part in daily business operations. Labelling initiatives aimed at child labour have also attracted growing public and press attention, and numerous labelling schemes have been developed for a variety of products produced in countries where child labour is seen as a problem. The Office is currently preparing an information document containing an analysis of various labelling programmes which have been developed in response to consumer concern.

19. A recent example of industry initiative against child labour is a Partners' Agreement with the Sialkot Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Pakistan, aimed at the elimination of child labour in the production of footballs, a matter that has received international attention in the media. The agreement is part of broader IPEC cooperation with organizations in the public and private sectors in the Sialkot district to provide better alternatives to children currently working in the football and surgical instruments industries and in brick kilns, household enterprises and agriculture. A similar cooperative programme between the Bangladesh Garment Exporters' and Employers' Association (BGMEA), IPEC and UNICEF came into force in mid-1996.

20. An official has now been appointed to the ILO's Bureau for Employers' Activities to work exclusively on child labour issues, in close liaison with IPEC.

Workers' organizations: Protecting the vulnerable

21. During the past year, the importance of child labour as a major issue for trade union organizations continued to increase both nationally and internationally. The subject of child labour has been taken up as a priority subject in numerous trade union conferences. The International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) adopted a resolution on eradicating child labour at its World Congress in Brussels in June 1996. Several international trade secretariats, including the International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers Association (IUF), the International Federation of Building and Wood Workers (IFBWW), Public Services International (PSI) and Education International (EI) have chosen child labour as a major topic to be discussed in their forthcoming congresses during 1997. The Asian regional organization of the World Confederation of Labour (WCL) has selected child labour as the priority theme for 1997. National trade union organizations both in industrialized and developing countries are becoming increasingly active in dealing with child labour issues. The Trades Union Congress (TUC) of the United Kingdom recently issued a report on child labour in Britain. "Stop Child Labour" will be the main theme of the Belgian General Federation of Labour (FGTB) for 1 May 1997. Trade union national centres in Costa Rica, Honduras and India have conducted surveys of child labour. It is notable that trade union activities against child labour are coming to deal with more diverse fields, including awareness campaigns, provision of schooling for children, company codes of conduct, and collective agreements on child labour.

22. Trade union involvement in the international campaign against child labour has continued and intensified. The global campaign against child labour launched by the ICFTU in 1994 has involved research and documentation on child labour, efforts to stop the sale of goods made by children (e.g. hand-made carpets) in international markets, awareness raising and education activities, small-scale projects to provide children with appropriate school facilities, pressure on governments to take action, and lobbying the World Bank, the World Trade Organization and other institutions to play their part in the elimination of child labour. Other international trade union organizations, notably the international trade secretariats, have also been engaged in the international campaign against child labour. One example of such international action is an agreement between a three trade union organizations -- the ICFTU, the International Federation of Commercial, Clerical, Professional and Technical Employees (FIET) and the International Textile, Garment and Leather Workers' Federation (ITGLWF) -- and the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) on the text of a Code of Labour Practice for the production of footballs carrying the "FIFA authorized" marks for the purpose of eliminating child labour and other exploitative practices. The ITGLWF and FIET also have a specific agreement on child labour in which the two organizations pledge "to initiate a campaign for the removal from European markets and from other industrialized countries ... of all hand-knitted carpets that are not labelled with the Rugmark label". Similar efforts are made at the national level. The Landsorganisationen (LO) in Sweden, for instance, has concluded an agreement concerning the import of hand-knitted carpets.

23. Cooperation between the trade union movement and the ILO has been further strengthened by the appointment of an official in the Bureau for Workers' Activities with the specific task to promote such cooperation. Already a number of potential joint activities at the national level have been identified for implementation during 1997. In addition, a Norwegian-funded workers' education project to promote cooperation between the ILO and the international trade union organizations has been launched.

Non-governmental international organizations: Agents of change

24. The special role of non-governmental organizations in the campaign against child labour -- due in particular to their knowledge of the issue, their community relationships and their flexible and cost-effective operational methods -- is recognized in the MOU signed by IPEC participating countries. NGOs are actively involved in national programmes at both policy-making and implementing levels. In the sphere of policy, key NGOs are invited to take part in the development of national policy and plans of action, and those with significant experience are represented in the National Steering Committee. At the implementation level, NGOs are carrying out action programmes at the community level and in specific sectors; typical initiatives include advocacy for attitudinal changes, strengthening the role of families, and creating alternatives for children at risk and their families. Through such activities, combined with their willingness to cooperate with government and management organizations, they significantly reinforce the national alliance against child labour.

25. IPEC is also cooperating with NGOs at the regional and international levels, for example in developing a manual for action research on domestic child labour, and assistance in developing exchanges of information and experience between NGOs in Africa and Asia. The regional programme against child trafficking in Asian countries will be implemented in close collaboration with NGOs active in this field at the subregional level.

Donors: International solidarity

26. By March 1997, the number of IPEC donors had increased to 14. Germany, whose initial contribution was instrumental in the creation of IPEC, has again taken the lead with another substantial contribution for the 1996-2001 period. Spain remains the principal donor to expanding programmes in Latin America; Australia, Canada, Denmark, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and Switzerland have joined the Programme. Belgium, France and the United States have pledged additional resources. The European Commission has also made a commitment to contribute. As can be seen in Appendix II, there has been an increase in both the number of donors and aggregate resources. Resource mobilization will remain a major concern, however, since increasing demand for IPEC services can be met only by a corresponding increase in contributions.

Programme Steering Committee: Review and guidelines for the future

27. The meeting of the IPEC Steering Committee on 22 November 1996 was attended by some 70 participants, including representatives of participating and donor countries and observers from other UN agencies and from NGOs. Discussions were based on a report on IPEC highlights of 1996-97 and guidelines for future action. The following points emerged from the many interventions.

28. The Committee felt that IPEC should continue to concentrate on the most intolerable forms of child labour and ensure greater linkage between its country action programmes and ILO standards, in particular Convention No. 138 and the proposed new standards on child labour. The closer involvement of ILO constituents in the Programme's work, especially that of employers and workers, was welcomed and should be increased. To ensure sustainability of action programmes and to develop models that are potentially useful for several countries, IPEC should proceed with review and evaluation exercises. The Steering Committee was assured that the results obtained from the comprehensive independent IPEC country programme reviews, tripartite IPEC national programme assessments and thematic evaluations would help to fine-tune the future work of IPEC. Finally, IPEC should further expand by serving more member States and attracting additional financial resources, including a further increase in the ILO regular budget allocation.

Research and information: Making the facts known

29. Research, statistical data collection and monitoring are vital components of the ILO programme against child labour and all are being strengthened. A major subprogramme on child labour statistics is being developed in IPEC with the assistance of the ILO Bureau of Statistics, which will lead to the creation of a computerized databank and the regular monitoring of trends in child labour. Publications based on empirical investigations and authoritative research will be a major means of disseminating technical and statistical information. Studies on economic incentives for the elimination of child labour and on the economic justification of child labour in the Indian carpet industry were published by the ILO's Employment and Training Department in 1996. The Director-General's Programme and Budget proposals for 1998-99 include awareness-raising activities in the form of seminars and workshops and the publication of reports and booklets on emerging and contentious issues, such as labelling and corporate conduct, for use by business and consumer groups and by workers' organizations.(4)

30. In the broader field of information dissemination, initiatives carried out by the ILO Bureau of Public Information (PRESSE), outlined in paragraph 10 above, are part of a wider range of activities designed to mobilize public opinion in support of the global campaign against child labour. IPEC published the first two issues of its illustrated newsletter Children and Work in 1996 and is currently examining ways in which a methodical expansion of its public information outreach can be achieved, in partnership with PRESSE. There is a two-fold logic behind this: first, the news media played a significant role in achieving a high profile for the child labour issue on the political agenda, and their influence in this regard can be expected to continue; secondly, an informed public is essential for the successful implementation of programmes of action at all levels. These considerations are particularly valid in view of the complex, clandestine and sometimes controversial nature of the child labour issue. Communication is thus an important component of national and local action programmes, as witnessed by the many focused awareness-raising efforts undertaken by IPEC partner organizations, as it is in the broader international context of building universal public solidarity. Development of the communication capabilities of employers' and workers' organizations and of NGOs, and maximizing the use made of their existing networks for information dissemination, will feature prominently in the ILO's forward planning in this field.

C. Child labour on the international agenda

31. The prominent place secured in 1996 by the question of child labour on the global agenda of the international community is reflected in a series of ongoing initiatives.

International Labour Conference: Informal Tripartite Meeting
at the Ministerial Level -- a tripartite response

32. A special Informal Tripartite Meeting at the Ministerial Level on Child Labour was held during the 83rd Session (June 1996) of the International Labour Conference, for which the report Child Labour: What is to be done? was prepared. Statements were heard from 60 ministers, who reaffirmed their commitment to the eradication of child labour. The ILO regular budget proposals for 1998-99 include a specific proposal for a meeting of experts in labour inspection focusing on the enforcement of laws and regulations relating to child labour.(5) In response to a specific request made at the meeting, the ILO has begun a review of voluntary labelling programmes aimed at providing guarantees on the child labour contents of products.(6) In order to take stock of the child labour situation initially and in order to create the national capacity to monitor trends in child labour at regular intervals, IPEC support to national statistical services on both the methodology and implementation of a survey within the framework of a systematic future programme is being explored. The methodology for surveys of child labour that was developed and tested in 1996 will be used to prepare regular reports on global trends in child labour, as required by the 1996 Conference resolution and requested by the Informal Tripartite Meeting at Ministerial Level.

International conferences: Raising awareness worldwide

33. In collaboration with the ILO, the Government of the Netherlands organized the Amsterdam Child Labour Conference (26-27 February 1997) on the most intolerable forms of child labour worldwide. Government representatives from over 30 countries in Asia, Africa and the Americas and Europe, representatives of employers' and workers' organizations, international bodies, NGOs and representatives of working children participated. The aim of the Conference was to stimulate the global discussion on the measures to combat the most intolerable forms of child labour. For this purpose, the Conference was to be addressed by ministers from both developing and industrialized countries. Discussions were to be based on the main conference document: Combating the most intolerable forms of child labour: A global challenge, prepared by the ILO. In addition, the ILO contributed three technical background papers: International and regional cooperation on child labour; Globalization, liberalization and child labour; and ILO instruments on the elimination of exploitative and hazardous child labour.

34. At the request of the Government of Norway, the ILO is actively participating, together with UNICEF, in the preparation of the International Conference Against Child Labour, to be held in Oslo from 27 to 30 October 1997. The ILO will assist with international regional consultations with countries as part of the preparatory process. In addition to contributions to the main conference document, the ILO will prepare two technical background papers: Legislation and enforcement and Practical action against child labour at the national and international levels. Representatives of governments, employers' and workers' organizations and NGOs from 38 developing and industrialized countries will attend the conference, which will begin with a preparatory technical session and conclude with a ministerial summit.

35. The ILO provided advisory assistance and participated in the World Congress against the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children, held in Stockholm in August 1996.

36. An International Conference organized by the Italian Tripartite Committee in the Ministry of Labour and the ILO (Rome, 3 December 1996) brought together some 300 policy-makers and representatives of employers' and workers' organizations from all parts of the world. In the "Rome Declaration on Child Labour", the Conference endorsed IPEC's aims and approaches in promoting the human rights of children and urged close cooperation between the ILO and UNICEF.

37. The ILO is financially and substantively supporting two major regional meetings in 1997: the OAU Regional Seminar on Working Children (Cairo, 24-27 March) and the First Tripartite Latin American Meeting at Ministerial Level on the Elimination of Child Labour (Cartagena de Indias, Colombia, 8-9 May 1997). In addition, the ILO will participate in a Symposium on the Rights of the Child relating to Arab countries (Tunis, 4-6 March 1997), organized with the support of the Government of Switzerland.

Cooperation with United Nations agencies

38. The State of the World's Children 1997, published by UNICEF, focused exclusively on child labour. It echoed the ILO's call for priority action to eradicate the most intolerable forms of child labour. Among the six key steps that need to be taken, the report cited the immediate elimination of hazardous and exploitive child labour, free and compulsory education for every child, stringent child labour laws and their vigorous enforcement in each country, data collection and monitoring, and codes of conduct and procurement policies. The Letter of Intent between the ILO and UNICEF (Appendix III) signed in October 1996 was a timely development to provide a frame of reference for cooperation between the two agencies in the areas of research and operational activities.

39. IPEC has been following closely the discussions on child labour and related issues by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child. It has also been conducting its own analysis of reports submitted to the Committee by its participating countries, and arrangements are being formalized for more systematic follow-up on the country-specific recommendations of the Committee in the context of IPEC country programmes. In some countries IPEC has provided information to governmental agencies responsible for the preparation of reports to be submitted to the Committee. In the Philippines, some IPEC implementing partners have been instrumental in coordinating and monitoring the implementation of the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child.


40. The developments outlined above encourage, at the very least, a guarded optimism for the future. The ILO's work in this field is breaking new ground precisely at a time when public opinion globally is calling for rapid and decisive results. Operational activities are moving outwards from a carefully prepared base position, in synergy with a major advance in standard setting. The ILO concept of time-bound programming, committing countries to act with all possible speed, is gaining widespread acceptance. As regards the suppression of the most abusive forms of child labour, governments are urged to undertake the immediate action that current policy advocates and which the new standards are expected to demand. It can be concluded with some confidence, therefore, that provided conditions permit the current momentum to be sustained, the ILO is well capable of attaining its overall objectives in this important field of work.

Geneva, 19 February 1997.

1 GB.264/ESP/1.

2 International Labour Conference, 86th Session, 1998. Report VI(1) Child labour: Targeting the intolerable.

3 Report VI(1), Questionnaire: Child labour.

4 GB.268/PFA/6/1, Programme and Budget proposals for 1998-99, para. 90.6-90.12.

5 ibid, para. 90.8.

6 The Committee was notified of this ILO report in GB.267/ESP/Inf.2. The report is in preparation.

Appendix I

Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) on Child Labour:
Status as at February 1997

Country MOU signed on Status
India 10 April 1992 extension agreed until 31.12.1999 starting with a one-year extension signed on 21.1.1997
Indonesia May 1992 extension agreed in principle with Government until 31.12.2001; signature in March 1997
Kenya 11 May 1992 extension up to 31.12.2001 signed on 1.12.1996
Thailand 22 May 1992 extension up to 31.12.2001 signed on 3.12.1996
Brazil 4 June 1992 extension up to 31.12.2001 signed on 31.10.1996
Turkey 10 June 1992 extension up to 31.12.2001 signed on 24.9.1996
United Republic of Tanzania 18 March 1994 extension up to 31.12.2001 signed on 24.9.1996
Pakistan 21 June 1994 extension up to 31.12.2001 signed on 21.8.1996
Philippines 22 June 1994 extension up to 31.12.2001 signed in December 1996
Bangladesh 11 October 1994 extension up to 31.12.2001 signed in December 1996
Nepal 31 January 1995 extension up to 31.12.2001 signed on 12.9.1996
Bolivia 10 June 1996 valid up to 9.6.2001
Chile 10 June 1996 valid up to 9.6.2001
Egypt 10 June 1996 valid up to 9.6.2001
Costa Rica 13 June 1996 valid up to 12.6.2001
Guatemala 13 June 1996 valid up to 12.6.2001
El Salvador 13 June 1996 valid up to 12.6.2001
Nicaragua 13 June 1996 valid up to 12.6.2001
Panama 13 June 1996 valid up to 12.6.2001
Peru 15 July 1996 valid up to 31.7.2001
Venezuela 16 September 1996 valid up to 15.9.2001
Sri Lanka 26 November 1996 valid up to 31.12.2001
Argentina 12 December 1996 valid up to 31.12.2001
Honduras 9 January 1997 valid up to 31.1.2002
Senegal in preparation

Appendix II

International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour:
Total contributions pledged, 1992-2001, and amounts
received as at 31 January 1997, by donor and by
country/technical programme(1)

(In chronological order of joining the programme)
Contributions pledged Amounts received
(as at 31/01/97)
Country/technical programmes

US dollars
(except where otherwise indicated)

Germany(2) 1992-2001:
2 x
DM 50,000,000
(approx. US$65,000,000)
Individual country programme in Asia: Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines, Nepal, Pakistan; Africa: Kenya, Tanzania; Latin America: Brazil; and Europe: Turkey.
Preparatory work in all regions.
Worldwide movement activities.
Belgium 1992-1995:




Four action programmes in Nepal in 1996-97: training workshops for judges, prosecutors, lawyers on enforcement of legislation on child labour; child labour elimination in quartz mines; non-formal education for children of the sweepers community; raising awareness among trade union leaders, parents and employers of child workers and providing non-formal education to working children.
Individual country programmes (in preparation).
Norway 1995-1996:
Action research: Mobilizing teachers, educators and their organizations to combat child labour.
Spain(3) 1995-1999:
Country programmes in Latin America: Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Venezuela, Paraguay
France(4) 1995:
Action programme on phasing out child labour in the carpet sector in Nepal.

Country programmes in French-speaking countries in Africa (to be determined).

Australia 1996:
Action programme on prevention of child labour and bonded child labour in Nepal
United States 1995-1999:
Specific action programmes:
Brazil - Combating child labour in the shoe industry of the Vale dos Sinos.
Bangladesh - Phasing out child labour in the garment industry.
Thailand - The North and Northeast programme to prevent child labour and children in prostitution.
Philippines - Reporting on the state of the nation's working children.
Africa - Technical workshop on child labour in commercial agriculture in Africa.
United States
  Proposed specific action programmes (to be finalized):
Thailand - second phase of the action programme to prevent child prostitution in the North of Thailand.
Pakistan - to be developed.
South Africa - to be developed.
Peru - to be developed.
Nepal - action programme to prevent trafficking in children.
Egypt - to be developed.
Canada 1996-1997:
Development of guidelines for policy makers on sustainable action against child labour
Luxembourg 1996:
Mini-programmes in Nepal and Philippines
Italy 1996:
  Project document in preparation
Denmark 1997-2000:
Individual country programmes in Cambodia, Nepal, Sri Lanka others in preparation

1 The Netherlands, United Kingdom and Switzerland have formally committed themselves to joining the IPEC Programme.

2 In addition to the financial contribution, two government officials on detachment to IPEC (one in Geneva and one in Costa Rica).

3 In addtion to the financial contribution, two young professionals on detachment to IPEC in Costa Rica and in Lima.

4 In addition to the financial contribution, one government official on detachment to IPEC Geneva.

Appendix III

Letter of Intent
to Guide the Joint Efforts of
the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and
the International Labour Organization (ILO)

Recognizing that the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the International Labour Organization (ILO) have complementary and mutually supportive roles to play in the progressive elimination of child labour and the protection of working children, their executive heads express their intent to further strengthen their cooperation in order to achieve strong and efficient inter-agency work in this area, within the framework of the Agreement between the United Nations and the ILO.

In order to further develop the fruitful joint activities already being carried out and to enhance the synergy of the activities each carries out under its respective mandate, the Executive Director of UNICEF and the Director-General of the ILO have agreed to the annexed Framework for Cooperation.

This cooperation will be implemented through continuing consultations with a view to coordinating policy and plans of action.

This letter of intent will become effective upon the date of the second signature. It will remain in effect indefinitely, unless UNICEF or the ILO notifies the other agency, by giving at least three month's written notice, that it is no longer to be in effect.

Geneva, 8 October 1996.

(Signed) C. Bellamy, Executive Director, UNICEF.

(Signed) M. Hansenne, Director-General, ILO.


Framework for cooperation

I. Policy

II. Research and exchanges

Subject to available resources:

III. Technical cooperation

IV. Follow-up

1 Annex to the Letter of Intent to Guide the Joint Efforts of UNICEF and the ILO to Eliminate Child Labour and to Protect Working Children.

Updated by VC. Approved by NdW. Last update: 26 January 2000.