IPU and ILO launch a handbook for parliamentarians
How to combat the worst forms of child labour?
Child labour is a serious issue which concerns MPs the world over. On the occasion of the 107th Inter-Parliamentary Conference in Marrakech, the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) and the Moroccan parliament are organising a round table discussion on the worst forms of child labour. Her Royal Highness Princess Lalla Meriem will be in attendance. Aware that the role of lawmakers is crucial in combating this problem, IPU and the International Labour Organization (ILO) are launching a Handbook for Legislators on this occasion.
|Handbook "Eliminating the worst forms of child labour"|
"The handbook illustrates how concerted and resolute action by various ministries and social actors working collectively, including MPs, can foster the elimination of the worst forms of child labour. Tens of millions of children are hired to do unbearable kinds of work which deprive them of their childhood and endanger their health, sometimes even their lives. ILO Convention 182 brings to the forefront the plight of children and its aim is to eradicate the worst forms of child labour", stated the Director-General of the ILO, the Chilean Juan Somavia.
"MPs play a key role in attaining this goal. As lawmakers, they can press for ratification of Convention 182, but they can also formulate policy, pass the necessary national laws, vote in appropriate budget allocations and oversee government action. The ILO and IPU are committed to ending unbearable forms of child labour. That is the least we can do for children who have already ruined their future and those who risk the same lot unless we act swiftly", said the IPU Secretary General, Anders B. Johnsson.
MP's point of view
Three MPS explained the importance of this handbook, given the socio-economic dimensions of the problem.
Dr. Najma Heptulla, President of the IPU Council, Deputy Chairperson of the Indian Upper House
In some countries, sometimes, children have to work to get a meal, especially in under-developed countries, and specially in those countries which were colonised, because they have a terrible backlog of development problems. No parents want their children not to go to school and to be working in the hazardous industries. In India, for example, we have a strong law to protect children from working in hazardous industries. Members of parliaments should know what they should do and what they should not and propose suitable legislation in their parliaments and get it passed. MPs should also try to see that there should be some kind of development fund for the education, health and development of children, in the least developed countries. There should also be some kind of legislation to punish those who are abusing children not only in war, but also in some advanced countries, where some children are sexually abused. These are the things we must handle.
Mrs. Badia Skali, Member of the House of Representatives of Morocco, President of the Meeting of Women Parliamentarians of the 107th Inter-Parliamentary Conference
This handbook is one of IPU's most commendable initiatives because child labour is a critical issue, particularly for developing countries. IPU takes an interest in human rights, democracy, sustainable development and the future of our societies. Educating children is vital to constructing a future. Child labour is a scourge in several countries. It is due in part to the level of development and poverty, but the worst forms of labour cannot be tolerated at the beginning of this millennium. I refer specifically to sexual exploitation in prostitution rings and the use of children in armed conflicts. As MPs, we must strongly urge our governments to develop social policies which can offer greater access to education by making schooling compulsory and providing children with access to education. We must also help the neediest families so that their children, and girls in particular, can go to school. Labour regulations in countries where this problem exists must be respected. Laws prohibit child labour from a certain age but once appropriate measures are put in place and everything is done to ensure that those laws are respected, families will also have to respect their obligations towards their children.
Mr. Raul Lema, Member of the Bolivian Senate
Sensitising public opinion in our countries and public opinion around the world to this problem is very important. In the majority of our Third World countries, mechanisms to monitor child labour are inadequate. Not only should we be aware of abuse, but we should also pass laws to prevent it. Unless concrete measures are taken to solve this problem, our youth will be traumatised as has been the case in several countries. The handbook for legislators is very important and we should spare no effort in helping children and young people who are the future of our countries and by extension, of the world.
In Bolivia, we have passed a law on appropriate treatment of children at home, at school and in their everyday life. This law prohibits activities which are harmful to their development and health. The laws passed in each country should be enforced by all sectors of society: parents, educators and those who use poor children for what I call "forced labour".