Working boys learning new skills. Author: Richard Carothers.On January 27th 2016, Beyond Trafficking and Slavery published an open letter by a global group of academics and child rights practitioners calling on the UN Committee on the Convention on the Rights of the Child to avoid binding the proposed ‘General Comment on the Rights of Adolescents’ to the ILO Minimum Age Convention (No. 138) or the minimum age standards set out in that convention. Their letter was motivated by decades of research that show minimum age legislation to harm the interests of working children. In response to the public dialogue that this open letter engendered – including a letter from and further response to Human Rights Watch – representatives of the academic-activist group traveled to Geneva to meet with Committee members and provide them with more information about children and work. Subsequently the group were invited to prepare and submit a formal argument based on human rights principles that explains how ILO Convention 138 does not comply with the Declaration of Human Rights or with the Convention of the Rights of the Child. We reproduce the full text of this argument below.
Why general minimum-age prohibitions on employment are incompatible with basic principles of human and children’s rights
This note has four parts
- First, we argue that accountability to children means that attention to the reality of children’s condition and lives is core to the Committee’s mandate
- Second, we detail specific ways in which ILO C.138 does not comply with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights or the CRC
- Third, we explain why, when ILO C.138 or other conventions conflict with the UDHR or CRC, the UDHR and CRC should have precedence
- And finally we provide recommendations for the initiation of a process aiming to bring ILO conventions 138 and 182 in line with the CRC
I. Accountability to children means that attention to the reality of children’s condition and lives is core to the Committee’s mandate
Article 43 ofthe UNCRC establishes the Committee on the Rights of the Child "for the purpose of examining the progress made by States Parties in achieving the realization of the obligations undertaken in the present Convention”. This use of the word “realization” makes clear that the Committee’s mandate necessarily involves direct accountability to children, as manifested through its obligation to ensure fulfilment of the articles and principles embodied in the CRC. Such accountability goes beyond scrutiny of policies, legal norms and standards to focus on their impact on children’s lives, in all cases ensuring that children’s rights and best interests prevail. Accountability to children necessitates a child-centred perspective.
Where necessary, achieving this principle may mean overriding both pressures from, or the interests of, other parties, along with international treaties and instruments that are not in conformity. Some have argued that distorting the original child well-being and development intents of the CRC to benefit the particular agenda of a given government agency or other organization itself constitutes a form of exploitation that violates UNCRC Article 36.
In the case of children’s work, a child-centred perspective entails recognition and facilitation of work that is developmental and beneficial to children’s wellbeing and social integration as well as protection from work that is detrimental. This makes it important to consider potential work hazards in the context of a wider assessment of children’s situation, the social and developmentalvalue placed on their work, the alternatives available to them and their families, as well as their realistic long-term prospects. It means nurturing and not undermining the resilience children show in very difficult circumstances, respecting the dignity and pride they gain from supporting themselves and their families and not inadvertently dismantling the important protective and enabling structures that children depend on.
In defining detrimental work, Article 32 of the CRC cites the right of the child ‘to be protected from economic exploitation and from performing any work that is likely to be hazardous or to interfere with the child’s education, or to be harmful to the child’s health or physical, mental, spiritual, moral or social development’. Addressing hazardous and exploitative work undertaken by children of all ages is therefore the priority.
Safe and appropriate work in line with children’s developmentis sanctioned in various articles of the CRC. Article 29, which refers to education directed to "the development of the child's personality, talents, and mental and physical abilities to their fullest potential", is not restricted to formal schooling but also allows for informal learning of life, pro-social and emotional skills through work in familial and community contexts. Children themselves often refer to their work as providing nutrition (physical development), skills (mental development), opportunity to express compassion (the key attribute associated with spiritual development), help to the family in solidarity with parents and siblings (the essence of moral development) and social knowledge and connections (social development). Further, children's participation in the household economy is an integral feature of child rearing in many indigenous and ethnic minority cultures in particular, and thus conserving safe and appropriate work as a right is entirely consistent with Article 30.
The right to undertake work that enhances children’s development and wellbeing is also enshrined in Article 27, which recognizes "the right of every child to a standard of living adequate for the child's mental, spiritual, moral, and social development". If parents and families cannot alone provide this standard of living, and States Parties do not provide it, then the child, by default, has the right to help achieve such a standard. Article 32 endorses this principle in highlighting the right to protection against work that is harmful to these same dimensions of children’s development; the corollary being that work NOT harmful in those dimensions and in alignment with the rights provided in Article 27 is both acceptable and indeed beneficial. Thus, the rationale underlying articles 27 and 32, taken together, is that children have both a right to this broad-based development plus a right not to have it undermined by harmful work.
In further pursuance of children’s right to work, Article 5 provides scope and legitimacy for parents in deciding on and supervising the work of their children, which can have economic, learning and protective motives. Article 15 confers on working children the right to organize and put pressure on trade unions to accept, include and defend them as workers or, in the absence of formal trade union membership, to form their own organizations. Accordingly, if there is insufficient legal reason to intervene in children's lives to ban them from working, then such unwarranted intervention may be regarded as constituting "arbitrary or unlawful interference", which is prohibited under Article 16.
II. Specific ways in which C.138 does not comply with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights or the CRC
When considering the appropriateness of including reference to ILO C.138 in the General Comment, the key question is whether, or the extent to which, C.138 complies with the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the CRC (particularly the Preamble, General Principles and Article 32, but also other articles as indicated above). Similarly, it is important to ask whether C.138 is more protective of children than ILO C. 182, which addresses the Worst Forms of Child Labour. ILO C.182, which was drafted after the UNCRC came into force, explicitly took the UNCRC into account, whereas C.138 preceded the UNCRC and does not.
Convention C.138 differs from the ILO’s earlier minimum-age conventions in one fundamental respect. Having been mandated in 1919 to impose “such limitations on the labour of young persons as shall permit the continuation of their education and assure their proper physical development” , the ILO conventions prior to C.138 targeted specific employment sectors thought to be harmful or hazardous to children: large-scale industry (1919), employment at sea (1920), large-scale agriculture (1921) and so on. These Conventions did not aim to exclude children from all forms of work, or earning money. C.138 in contrast imposes a minimum age (15) for admission to “employment or work in any occupation”.
Although C.138 allows for children to undertake “light work”, this is supposed to be specifically designated and governments rarely attend to this kind of detail, more often instituting a total ban. Light work is sanctioned for only two years below the age at which school is compulsory, automatically excluding younger children who could benefit from such work. In many parts of the world work contributes directly to children’s development, as we have indicated. Learning values and participating in cultural activities through work generally starts at a much younger age than C.138 allows, accommodating children’s natural propensity to mimic and join in family work as part of their own developmental initiatives.
The view of ILO and others that C.138 (and national laws and regulations complying with it) is the most effective means of protecting children rests on the assumption that younger children are inherently more vulnerable to harms from work than are older children. This justifies excluding them from work, often with the additional claim that work impedes their right to school education and play, and that a simple ban is a more straightforward and effective means for keeping children safe than are the alternatives. However, evidence from research and practice across diverse contexts, not just in low and middle income countries but also in Europe, the USA and other industrialised settings, brings all of these assumptions into question, highlighting that C.138 is not only out of step with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the CRC, but also with the current state of scientific understanding and knowledge on these issues.
In light of sound and clear research evidence, we conclude that ILO C.138, is inherently in contradiction with many principles of the CRC, including the principles of the best interest of the child and the right of the child to have his or her views taken into account. It equally omits full consideration of human rights principles of indivisibility of rights and the right to self-determination. Moreover, ILO Convention 182, relating to the Worst Forms of Child Labour, is intended to protect children against harmful work much more completely than does C.138. Therefore, the net contribution of C.138 is primarily to prohibit children from work that is safe. This indicates that instead of focusing on C.138, other regulatory interpretations of Labour and Human Rights Instruments can effectively protect children from harmful and exploitative work in ways that are in line with CRC Article 32 and other articles mentioned above.
Specific ways in which C.138 does not comply with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights or the CRC are as follows:
1) There is no evidence that a general minimum age prohibition is inherently protective of children’s rights and wellbeing, and plenty of evidence indicating that it can undermine children’s best interests.
a) It ignores that learning through supervised engagement in work is one of the most fundamental mechanisms of human development and that children normally seek it, starting as early as they begin to imitate adult behaviours. It overlooks children’s multiple contributions to family, economy and social life as it does the positive functions that safe work can play in children’s lives. For many children, initiation into work comprises a core feature of their learning and social integration, as well as contributing to family survival. Moreover, learning, play and work are frequently intermingled in children’s behaviour and lives, defying the discrete categories that arise from artificial spatial and institutional separation of these activities.
b) Enforcing a minimum working age places working children under that age in a legal vacuum and excludes them both (i) from exercising a normal human development process and (ii) when entering labour markets, from protections, benefits and services that should be accessible by all workers as a matter of right.
c) Work, especially in the company of parents or other guardians, sometimes enables the supervision and protection of children who would otherwise be alone and unoccupied, perhaps in hazardous situations. Enforcing a minimum working age removes such protection.
2) In focusing on removing younger children from work (which, as indicated, in practice includes even light work), C.138 infringes children’s other rights as outlined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the CRC.
a) Article 41 states that the UNCRC should not impede the realization of other rights granted children through national or international law. UDHR and the 1966 Covenants clearly articulate everyone’s right, without qualification by age, to work and to join workers’ associations or to form their own associations. Abbreviation of these human rights to children below a specified age is legitimate only if demonstrated to be necessary (in the absence of other protective alternatives) and effective in providing protection. There is no evidence that C.138 fulfils either criteria. In fact, it violates the principle of non-discrimination and the right of everyone to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment, as laid out in the Preamble and Article 2 (General Principles) of the CRC and in Articles 2 and 23 of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Denial to children of the fundamental human right of workers to organize is an egregious violation of their rights that has no basis in human rights law and contravenes children’s participation rights (CRC Articles 12-15 inclusive). This is also in contravention of ILO Conventions 87 and 98.
b) Mechanisms for monitoring of C.138 focus on the numbers of children removed from work and general attendance at school and do not include effects on children’s well-being and development, which is necessary to determine whether or not these interventions served the best interests of the child or other General Principles of the CRC.
c) As indicated, children’s work may be essential to maintaining a standard of living that is conducive to their development (as mandatedin Article 27) as well as to the integrity of the family insofar as their work contributes to individual and family survival, or improved quality of life. Therefore, removing children from work simply because of their age can endanger family livelihood strategies necessary to fulfilling their obligations to the child under Article 27 and in some circumstances may even threaten the child’s right to life and survival (Article 6).
d) Work can contribute to developing a variety of social and technical skills, and so to children’s development to their fullest potential (as provided in CRC Articles 27, 29, and 32).
e) Where income from children’s work is indispensable for their continued school enrolment, removing children from work undermines realisation of their right to education (Article 29).
f) For all the above reasons, imposition of a general minimum working age can be contrary to the best interest of the child (Article 3).
g) CRC Article 32, Clause 2 (a) requiring States Parties to “provide for a minimum age or minimum ages for admission to employment” was intentionally phrased in this way rather than as a general universal minimum age for admission to all kinds of employment or work. It is therefore consistent with the principles of targeted minimum-age measures restricted to specific sectors, or conditions and relations of work that are hazardous to younger children (as originally recognised in ILO’s sector-specific minimum age conventions prior to C.138, and in ILO Convention 182). The CRC wording thus facilitates and endorses the principle that targeted rather than general minimum ages can be necessary and effective.
3) C.138 and national laws and regulations complying with it do not address root causes of harmful child work and are inherently punitive, and thus can inadvertently harm the children they intend to protect.
a) Prohibiting harmful practices does not address their root causes. Consequently, rather than reducing demand, banning harmful work for children and penalties for infractions risks driving children into less visible and more dangerous activities where they enjoy even less protection. Elimination of children’s? work in easily monitored sectors has often led to children becoming involved in the most detrimental forms of work (including those forms listed under ILO Convention 182).
b) Advances in child protection measures, community work and other approaches in the field, conforming to the CRC and its spirit but outside the standards demanded by C.138, have proved that peaceful and sustainable solutions can be very effective and welcomed by children, parents and communities. The social objective of measures regulating children’s work should be viewed as ensuring human rights for the most vulnerable individuals, families and communities rather than the narrower objective of simplyconforming with labour standards.
III. Why the CRC should take precedence over ILO conventions when these conflict with basic principles of the CRC
Since international law by custom prioritizes the core international human rights treaties over other conventions and instruments,the CRC does, and indeed should, take precedence over all other treaties and instruments concerning children’s rights and well-being, for the following reasons among others:
a) As well as reiterating that children are subjects of all Human Rights (Preamble), the UNCRC was promulgated on the basis that children are entitled to special care and assistance (Preamble and Article 3). It is supplementary to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and built on the same essential values and principles. In conferring rights of provision, protection and participation to every human being below the age of 18 years (unless under the law applicable to the child, majority is attained earlier) it is the paramount treaty internationally that concerns children.
b) It is also the most widely ratified international human rights treaty in history, as well as being legally binding on all States Parties.
c) Finally, it provides (Article 3) that in matters of children’s rights, the best interests of children should be given primary consideration, this principle giving an underpinning for all international agreements that concern children, including (and in particular) those that are not human rights instruments. Children should play a part in all deliberations concerning their best interests.
When reviewing the extent to which other treaties and instruments are compliant with the CRC, it is important to acknowledge the underlying features and principles of the CRC, as follows:
a) The CRC is notable in considering children’s rights in the wider contexts of children’s lives, which in itself is protective.
The CRC stands out from many other instruments and treaties in its appreciation that the most effective way to realise children’s rights is to enable and facilitate, rather than to enforce, social change. It makes clear that this goal is achieved by respecting, supporting and working with the structures, institutions, norms and values that support children in the contexts in which they live and by ensuring that children are able to be active members of their societies. Thus, the treaty takes ‘due account of the importance of the traditions and cultural values of each people for the protection and harmonious development of the child’ as well as confirming that ‘the child should be fully prepared to live an individual life in society’ (Preamble).
The CRC also recognises the prominent roles played by parents and families in children’s lives and makes clear that supporting them in these roles is essential to the realisation of children’s rights. The Preamble refers to the family as the ‘fundamental group of society and the natural environment for the growth and well-being… of children’ and states that the family should be ‘afforded the necessary protection and assistance so that it can fully assume its responsibilities within the community’. Similarly, Article 5 asserts that States Parties ‘shall respect the responsibilities, rights and duties of parents or, where applicable, the members of the extended family or community as provided for by local custom, legal guardians or other persons legally responsible for the child, to provide, in a manner consistent with the evolving capacities of the child, appropriate direction and guidance in the exercise by the child of the rights recognized in the present Convention’. This is not to condone rights violations simply because certain values and practices are acceptable in specific cultural communities and contexts. Rather, it is to highlight that peers, families and others have a crucial protective role in relation to children and that measures that build on cultural consensus are more likely to have positive outcomes for children than are those that that ignore, or unduly dismiss or stigmatise, local values and understandings. The approach of conscientization has shown that critical reflection and analysis can effectively and more safely bring about change from within local cultures and contexts.
In their application to working children, these twin principles imply that decisions about what is safe and appropriate for the young should be arrived at through discussion and negotiation with local institutions and with the children themselves, rather than by enforcement of a universal, globalised age-based criterion. Moreover, they imply that laws or regulations that do not take account of the economic and social circumstances of parents and families may render children more vulnerable. Aside from the family, other institutions that may be invoked in the protection and enablement of children’s rights include religious and civil society organisations, such as working children’s organisations and similar bodies.
b) The CRC provides a holistic framework for the full realisation of all civil, social, political, economic and cultural rights for all children everywhere, thereby upholding the fundamental principle that children’s rights are indivisible. This means that to align with the CRC, all instruments and treaties concerning children, including those that focus on a single practice or circumstance like children’s work, must be mindful of conserving all of the rights awarded in the CRC. The monitoring of any implementation of Article 32, therefore, should attend to whether a ban on children’s work leads to serious violation of their other rights.
c) The General Principles comprise a set of overarching rights that are essential for the realisation of all rights embodied in the CRC, as well as those bestowed in other treaties concerning children. Thus, the principles of non-discrimination (Article 2), best interest of the child (Article 3), right to life, survival and development (Article 6) and right to be heard (Article 12)must find expression in all other articles, treaties and instruments concerning children’s rights.
IV Recommendations to the Committee
The CRC is both applicable universally to all children in all situations and settings, and attentive to local contexts. This presents a challenge for implementation, in that the standards and thresholds for children’s rights and the most appropriate and effective means of achieving these standards and thresholds are open to interpretation.
There is widespread agreement, however, that no child should be engaged in hazardous or exploitative work and that children in poverty share the same right to protection from such work as do all other children. Given the lack of clear and established criteria for judging harm to children, together with the extensive evidence of (unintended) detrimental consequences of general minimum-age based bans for children and their families, positive measures that facilitate schooling and safe work by children are both more efficacious and more closely aligned with the requirement that children’s rights be understood within the wider contexts of their lives (in the CRC Preamble and General Principles).
The arguments provided in sections I – III above suggest clearly that the most effective step towards bringing international labour standards (and national measures based on them) in line with the UNCRC would be the revocation by ILO of its Convention 138. Understanding that this is an unlikely prospect in the foreseeable future, we make the following concrete recommendations to the Committee.
1. The Committee should remove any endorsement or promotion of ILO C.138 from its General Comment on the Implementation of the Rights of the Child during Adolescence.
2. Reference to ILO Convention 182 in the General Comment should be explicitly coupled with the requirement to interpret and implement it with respect for children’s rights, and with consideration for local contexts, to ensure that children’s best interests are served and children are not harmed by it.
3. The Committee should advise States Parties that CRC Article 32.2 (a) requiring States Parties to “provide for a minimum age or minimum ages for admission to employment” should not be interpreted as endorsement of general minimum-age legislation but rather as endorsement of targeted prohibitions, where necessary, to protect younger children in specific situations or sectors from specific harms.
4. The Committee should invite the ILO, in collaboration with the Committee and other qualified agencies and experts, to initiate a process of dialogue aimed at bringing the ILO’s child labour standards into conformance with the CRC. This can be initiated during the period leading up to the ILO’s 2017 Child Labour Conference, and continued thereafter with the various steps necessary to bring ILO standards into conformance with the CRC (including compiling existing information, identifying gaps, further data collection, analysis, workshops and consultations).
5. The Committee should make efforts to assist States Parties (through training and advisory services, and other means) to update or adapt their legislation relating to children’s work so that they are in conformance with the CRC.
6. Finally, the Committee enquired about our position in relation to the legal framework adopted by the Bolivian government in relation to children’s work. The Bolivian initiative stands out as having been developed in consultation with children and adolescents and cast firmly in a human and child rights framework, while also recognising that work and responsibility can have an important role in the full development of the child. Thus, it is the position of the group that the Bolivian initiative deserves attention and consideration as a more holistic attempt, explicitly aligned with child rights principles, to protect children from exploitative and harmful work.
We, as a group of researchers and practitioners, would be ready to assist the Committee in implementing these recommendations.
Dr Bree Akesson
Wilfrid Laurier University, Canada
Professor Priscilla Alderson
Social Science Research Unit, Institute of Education, University College London, UK
Ms Reem Ali
Independent Consultant, Canada
Dr Nicola Ansell
Brunel University, London, UK
Dr Dena Aufseeser
University of Maryland, Baltimore County, USA
Professor Janet Boddy
University of Sussex, UK
Ms Doris Bonnet
French Research Institute for Developpement, France
Professor Michael Bourdillon
University of Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe
Professor Jo Boyden
University of Oxford, UK
Mr James Boyonrepresenting the African Movement of Working Children & Youth
African Movement of Working Children and Youth, Senegal
Ms Rebecca Budde
Coordination, M.A. in Childhood Studies and Children's Rights, Free University, Berlin, Germany
Mr Richard Carothers
Partners in Technology Exchange (www.ppic-work.org), Canada
Dra / Profesora Maria Delores Cervera
Centro de Investigación y de Estudios Avanzados del Instituto Politécnico Nacional, Mexico
Dr Kabita Chakraborty
Children's Studies Program, York University, Canada
Mr Saifullah Channa
Executive Director, Development of Institution and Youth Alliance, Pakistan
Dr John Cockburn
Département d’économique, Université Laval, Partnership for Economic Policy, Canada
Dr Tara Collins
Ryerson University, Canada
Dr Philip Cook
International Institute for Child Rights and Development, Canada
Dr Gina Crivello
University of Oxford, UK
Dr Jennifer Driscoll
Kings College London, UK
Dr Maria Claudia Duque Paramo
Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, Colombia
Dr Jane Dyson
University of Melbourne, Australia
Professor Lowell Ewert
Director, Peace and Conflict Studies, University of Waterloo, Canada
Mr Justin Flynn
Institute of Development Studies, UK
Dr Lourdes Gaitán
Grupo de Sociología de la Infancia y la Adolescencia, Spain
Mr Yashodhan Ghorpade
Conflict, Violence and Development Cluster, Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex, UK
Dr Jason Hart
University of Bath, UK
Professor Roger Hart
Children's Environments Research Group, The Graduate Center of the City University of New York, USA
Mr Emrul Hasan representing Plan Canada
Director, Program Effectiveness and Technical Advisors Plan Canada
Dr Neil Howard
Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies, European University Institute; Editor Beyond Trafficking and Slavery, Open Democracy, UK
Dr Roy Huijsmans
Senior Lecturer Children & Youth Studies, International Institute of Social Studies (ISS), The Hague, Netherlands
Ms Sara Imanian
University of Central Lancashire, UK
Dr Antonella Invernizzi
Independent Consultant, France
Dr Melanie Jacquemin
Beyond Trafficking and Slavery, France
Dr Pamela Kea
University of Sussex, UK
Mr Bijan Kimiagar
Children's Environments Research Group, The Graduate Center of the City University of New York, USA
Professor Anne Trine Kjorholt
Norwegian Centre for Child Research, Norway
Dr Caroline Krafft
St. Catherine University, USA
Dr Cath Larkins
The Centre for Children and Young People’s Participation, University of Central Lancashire, UK
Dr Deborah Levison
Humphrey School of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota, USA
Professor Manfred Liebel
International Academy Berlin and University of Applied Sciences Potsdam, Germany
Dr Stanford Mahati
University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa
Ms Despina Maraki
Panteion University of Social and Political Sciences, Greece
Dr Emma Mawdsley
University of Cambridge, UK
Dr Kate McAlpine
Caucus for Children's Rights, Tanzania
Mr Nicolas Meslaoui
Independent Consultant, Belgium
Dr Brian Milne
Independent Consultant, France
Dr Virginia Morrow
Deputy Director of Young Lives, Associate Professor & Senior Research Officer, Department of International Development, University of Oxford, UK
Dr Bill Myers
Retired from United Nations (UNICEF and ILO), International Institute for Child Rights and Development, USA
Ms Claire O'Kane
Independent Consultant, UK
Mr Samuel Okyere
University of Nottingham; Editor Beyond Trafficking and Slavery, Open Democracy, UK
Dr Alphonce Omolo
Director Lensthru Consultants; Children’s Rights, Youth Work, Education, Research and Social Development, Kenya
Dr Alula Pankhurst
Director, Young Lives, Ethiopia
Dr Kirrily Pells
University College London, Institute of Education, UK
Ms Carmen Ponce
Group for the Analysis of Development, Lima, Peru
Dr Kirsten Pontalti
University of Oxford, UK
Professor Gina Porter
Durham University, UK
Ms Kavita Ratnarepresenting the Concerned for Working Children
Director Advocacy, The Concerned for Working Children, Bangalore, India
Dr Elsbeth Robson
University of Hull, UK
Dr Keetie Roelen
Institute of Development Studies, UK
Dr Rachel Rosen
UCL Institute of Education, UK
Mr Bernard Schlemmer
French Research Institute for Developpement, France
Professor Spyros Spyrou
European University, Cyprus
Dr Jessica Taft
University of California, USA
Mr Fabrizo Terenziorepresenting Enda
Enda Tiers Monde, Senegal
Professor Nigel Thomas
The Centre for Children and Young People's Participation, School of Social Work, Care and Community, University of Central Lancashire, UK
Professor Rachel Thomson
University of Sussex, UK
Dr Dorte Thorsen
University of Sussex, UK
Professor Kay Tisdall representing the Centre for Research on Families and Relationships, University of Edinburgh
Centre for Research on Families and Relationships, U of Edinburgh, UK
Dr Afua Twum-Danso Imoh
Department of Sociological Studies, University of Sheffield, UK
Dr Lorraine van Blerk
University of Dundee, UK
Voix des Enfants Actifs
La Voie des Enfants Actifs, France
Dr Debbie Watson
School for Policy Studies, University of Bristol, UK
Professor Ben White
Emeritus Professor, International Institute of Social Studies Erasmus, University Rotterdam, Netherlands
Professor Martin Woodhead
Emeritus Professor of Childhood Studies, the Open University, UK; Associate Research Director, Young Lives, Department of International Development, Oxford University
Dr Nabeel Yahya
Friends of the Environment Centre, Doha, Qatar
Mr Sepideh Yousefzadeh
Abebe, T. 2007. Changing livelihoods, changing childhoods: Patterns of children's work in rural Southern Ethiopia. Children's Geographies, 5(1): 77–93.
Abebe, T., & Kjørholt, A.-T. (Eds.). (2013). Childhood and local knowledge in Ethiopia. Livelihoods, rights and intergenerational relationships. Trondheim: Akademik Forlag.
Ames, P. (2013a). Learning to be responsible: Young children transitions outside school. Learning, Culture and Social Interaction, 2(3), 143–154.
Aufseeser, Dena, 2014, "Limiting spaces of informal learning among street children in Peru", in Sarah Mills and Peter Kraftl (ed.), Informal Education, Childhood and Youth: Geographies, Histories, Practices, Palgrave Macmillan, London, pp. 112–23.
Besen-Cassino, Yasemin, 2014, Consuming Work: Youth Labor in America, Temple University Press, Philadelphia.
Bolin, Inge, 2006, Growing Up In A Culture of Respect: Child Rearing in Highland Peru, Austin: University of Texas Press
Bray Rachel, 2003, ‘Who Does the Housework? An Examination of South African Children’s Working Roles’ Social Dynamics: A journal of African studies 29(2) pp 95-131.
Crivello, G. (2011). ‘Becoming Somebody’: Youth transitions through education and migration in Peru. Journal of Youth Studies, 14(4), 395–411.
Heissler, K.; Porter, C. Know Your Place: Ethiopian Children’s Contributions to the Household Economy. European Journal of Development Research (2013) 25 (4) 600-620. [DOI: 10.1057/ejdr.2013.22]
Jacquemin, M. 2006. Can the language of rights get hold of the complex realities of child domestic work? The case of young domestic workers in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, Childhood,13, 3: 389-406.
Libório, R. M. C. and Ungar, M. (2010), Children’s Perspectives on their Economic Activity as a Pathway to Resilience. Children & Society, 24: 326–338.
Liebel, M. (2003) Working children as social subjects: The contribution of working children’s organizations to social transformations. Childhood 10(3): 265-285.
Liebel, Manfred (with Karl Hanson, Iven Saadi & Wouter Vandenhole), 2012, Children’s Rights from Below: Cross-cultural perspectives. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan,
Liebel, Manfred & Iven Saadi, ‘Elimination of Child Labor or Work in Dignity for Children? Remarks on the  Child Labor Report.’ In Jessica K. Taft (ed.), Nothing About Us, Without Us: Critiques of the International Labor Organization’s Approach to Child Labor from the Movements of Working Children. Lima: IFEJANT, 2013, pp. 18-19.
Liebel, Manfred, 2007, ‘The new ILO report on child labour: a success story, or the ILO still at loss?’ Childhood. A global journal of child research, 14(2), pp. 279-284.
Liebel, Manfred, 2012, ‘Children’s Work, Education and Agency: The African Movement of Working Children and Youth (AMWCY).’ In G. Spittler & M. Bourdillon (eds.), African Children at Work: Working and Learning in Growing Up for Life. Zürich/Berlin: LIT, pp. 303-332.
Liebel, Manfred, 2013, ‘Do children have a right to work? Working children’s movements in the struggle for social justice.’ In K. Hanson & O. Nieuwenhuys (eds.), Reconceptualizing Children’s Rights in International Development: Living Rights, Social Justice, Translations. New York/Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 225-249.
Liebel, Manfred, 2015, 'Protecting the Rights of Working Children instead of Banning Child Labour: Bolivia Tries a New Legislative Approach.’ The International Journal of Children’s Rights, 23(3), pp. 529-547.
Maconachiea, Roy, and Gavin Hilson, 2016, "Re-thinking the child labor ‘‘problem” in rural sub-saharan Africa: The case of Sierra Leone’s half shovels", World Development, Vol. 78 no., pp. 136–47.
María Florencia Amigó, 2010, Small Bodies, Large Contribution: Children's Work in the Tobacco Plantations of Lombok, Indonesia, The Asia Pacific Journal of Anthropology, 11:1, 34-51
Mortimer, Jeylan, 2003, Work and Growing Up in America, Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press
Pankhurst, A., M. Bourdillon, & G. Crivello (Eds.) Children’s Work and Labour in East Africa. Addis Ababa: Organisation for Social Science Research in Eastern and Southern Africa. (pp. 19–40)
Robson, E., N. Ansell, U. Huber, W. Gould, and L. van Blerk. 2006. “Young Caregivers in the Context of the HIV/AIDS Pandemic in Sub-Saharan Africa.” Population, Space and Place 12 (2): 93–111 doi:10.1002/(ISSN)1544-8452
Rogoff, Barbara, 1990, Apprenticeship in Thinking: Cognitive Development in Social Context, New York: Oxford University Press
Spittler, G and Bourdillon, M (eds) 2012. African Children at Work: work and learning in growing up for life. Berlin: Lit Verlag
Virginia Morrow (2015). Intersections of School, Work, and Learning: Children in Ethiopia, India, Peru, and Vietnam, Chapter in: Handbook of Geographies of Children and Young People, edited by Tracy Skelton, Singapore: Springer
Woodhead, M. 1998. Children’s Perspectives on their Working Lives: A Participatory Study in Bangladesh, Ethiopia, the Philippines, Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua, Stockholm: Radda Barnen.
 Treaty of Versailles Article 427, 1919
 See Annex I
 This is hardly surprising since the principles behind C.138 were developed almost three decades ahead of the first human rights instrument (Declaration of Human Rights, 1948) and 70 years before the CRC (1989).
 Currently 196 countries are parties to the treaty, some with stated reservations or interpretations
What does a good thesis statement look like?
There is one big tip on writing a good essay almost every article on the web gives you. It’s to come up with a clear and specific thesis statement.
But how one does it? You need to understand what is the main idea of your paper and how to communicate it in a comprehensive and concise way. Here are some of the thesis statement examples to help you make this task less problematic.
Thesis statement formula
As you can see, there is no universal thesis statement formula as every type of a writing assignment requires a different approach. In some cases, you will have to include counterarguments, and in others presenting solely your point of view will suffice. Here are a couple of examples:
While there is a common belief that ……., a closer examination proves that …….
Despite the ……., the recent facts show that ……
The reason for is …… and as a result …….
- Endorsement of child labor by international companies should not be supported.
Consumers should not buy items from the countries that endorse child labor because this kind of financial approval encourages big corporations to increase the production, the exhaustion of a child’s body can lead to severe health problems, and the hard work deprives children of their childhood.
- The morality of atheists and theists.
Even though atheists do not have an instruction of good behavior provided by the superior beings, they are not less moral than theists. They have their own moral compass and laws established by society to differentiate good deeds from the bad ones.
- Testing drugs on animals is the sacrifice we have to make.
The greatest value we have is a human life. If testing a new drug on a cute little rabbit could result in saving your mother or father from a terminal illness, then this is the sacrifice we need to make. Animal testing can lead to our healthier future, less incurable diseases, and more saved lives.
- Getting a university diploma is necessary.
Even though there are some examples of successful people without a college degree, everybody should go through this stage of self-development. The years in college give you knowledge, improve your soft skills, and connect you with other bright people who can help you get to the top in the future.
- Personal information on the web should have a legislative basis.
Even though we can’t imagine our life without social media, we have to be careful about the information we provide as it can be used for research reasons. There should be specific laws about the availability of big data and who can use it because it will be easy to manipulate people’s minds, gather the personal information without permission and use it for someone’s benefits.
- Landing on the Moon is a fake.
Despite the presence of a documentary video of landing on the Moon, it should be recognized as the biggest fraud. The details of the video and the fact that we still have not made a come back there after more than 40 years indicate that it could not be filmed on the Moon surface.
- Parents monitoring their children internet use is the right thing.
While there is a lot of useful and educational information on the internet, parents should regulate the internet use of their children. Children get distracted, spend more time on harmful web sites, and avoid social interaction.
- Money as a motivation for good grades is an option.
The approach of encouraging the children to get good grades by paying them can be a model of the real world situation. If you work hard and get good results, you will get paid accordingly. This way of encouragement is acceptable and can be used by parents.
- The line between exaggeration and lies in advertising.
There are not enough regulatory norms to make the modern advertisement less deceiving. The line between exaggeration and lies is not clear and the products advertised turn often don’t meet the customers’ expectations. If we introduce more rigid rules to advertising, there will be less disappointed customers.
- Space missions should not be a priority.
We spend billions of dollars on developing the strategies of Mars colonization while there are millions of people suffering from famine here, on our planet. It would be more beneficial to spend more on saving people in Africa from starvation and water shortages than sending someone to a distant planet.
- Unfair salary rates of doctors.
In the world where human life is the biggest value, doctors should get the highest salary rates, not actors and singers. They save lives, deprive us of physical pain, and have to spend years of studying and practicing to be able to do that.
- Euthanasia should be legalized.
Euthanasia should be recognized as one of the possible ways of ending a person’s life. The right of life is given to every person and we are free to take decisions we consider to be right.
- Homeschooling is effective.
Homeschooling is an effective way of educating children as it gives an opportunity to focus on personal strength and weaknesses, make emphasis on the particular subjects a child has an interest in, and adapt the studying approach to the most convenient for a child.
- Diets are just waste of time.
Multiple cases show that all the diets have a short-term effect on the body. Diets are ineffective because people start gaining weight once they stop and the organism goes through an unnecessary stress.
- The production of cigarettes should decrease by 90%.
The production of cigarettes should decrease by 90% so that with time, the harmful habit could disappear. A significant decrease in the production of tobacco products will lead to the minimization of demand on it as the price will get higher, the supply will decrease and people will not be able to buy it.
- Reverse discrimination at the workplace is a problem.
The fear of being punished for the discrimination of ethnical minorities at the workplace leads to the discrimination of the rest of the population. There should be a law that balances out this inequality.
- Redistribution of money spent on the space programs is needed.
The government should not spend money on the search for new exoplanets as it has no practical value for people on Earth. Instead, they should focus on asteroid mining projects to be able to get the vital resources after they are all used on our planet and survive.
- Plastic surgeries should not be allowed to everyone.
Even though plastic surgeries are aesthetically justified, they do not solve the psychological problems of desire to change one’s appearance. They should be allowed only in severe cases because they give people the fake satisfaction, can cause an addiction, and support the objectification of one’s image.
- Video games advocating violence should be banned.
Video games featuring violent episodes should be banned as they lead to violence at schools, damage the mentality of minds, and create the perverted image of reality.
- Abortions should be legal.
The legalization of abortions should be legalized as women should have the freedom to make decisions regarding their bodies and there are cases when there could be no other solution to the problem.
- Endorsement of child labor by international companies should not be supported.
- Studying abroad.
Although the idea of studying abroad might sound costly, the experience one will get from the interaction with another culture and different approach to teaching is worth it.
- Marriage at a young age.
There is nothing good about getting married at a young age except for it being romantic. People’s personalities change dramatically between 20 and 30 years old and young marriages are almost never a good idea.
- Getting a degree.
Higher education is no longer a requirement for getting the dream job. Online short-term courses can give you the necessary theoretical information.
- Women choosing not to have children.
There is nothing scandalous about a woman who chooses not to have children and our society has to understand that. It is her time and body that are at stake but not someone’s beliefs.
- Modern art.
Modern art becomes more and more meaningless as almost every creative project has a goal of provoking negative emotions.
- National identity.
We will see more and more regions demanding independence in the upcoming years because the question of national identity has become extremely the top of the agenda in Europe.
There is an urgent need of educating people about AIDS as there are many countries even in Europe where the information about this disease is inaccurate and unspecific.
- Protecting animals.
Every civilized country should ban circuses that use animals for their shows. This kind of entertainment is not worth the sufferings those animals go through.
Becoming a vegetarian is a new stage of the human development as you stop being an animal and make a conscious choice of not eating meat for the sake of other animals just like you.
Choosing death instead of life is a selfish deed by which you take the joy of your life not from yourself but from the people who love you.
- Studying abroad.
- Plants in the developing countries.
International companies having their factories in the developing countries provide thousands of people with work and stable income. The question of ethics should not stand in the way of helping those people to survive.
- 6 hour work day
The U.S. should introduce a 6 hour work day for office workers to reduce sick-leave and increase the motivation.
- The importance of exams.
Exams are not an effective way of assessing students’ knowledge. There should be an alternative to measuring the abilities while exams will be banned.
- School uniforms.
School uniforms work perfectly for erasing the difference of families’ income levels and can always be individualized by the students to express their creativity.
- Space debris.
Space debris is a serious threat to our planet and there should be more information and publicity on the topic.
- Personal information.
The federal government should not have access to the personal information we state online and should not be able to use it.
- Food at school cafeterias
The food at school cafeterias is one of the main reason of children’s obesity in the U.S. the government should introduce legal regulations regarding this issue.
- Maternity leave
The period of paid maternity leave should increase up to 2 years. A woman should be able to get a salary from the government during this time while staying with children at home.
- Harmful ads.
The ads of alcohol and cigarettes should be banned as they advocate the unhealthy way of life.
- Beauty contests.
Beauty contests do not have any value for the society and should be eliminated from the lives of civilized societies.
- Plants in the developing countries.
- Plato and Socrates.
While the two Greek philosophers had their differences in understanding the world around us, they both were the founders of Western philosophy and made a huge impact on philosophy as we know it today.
- Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin.
The similarities between the two dictators are striking and they need a thorough investigation to understand the specific reasons for their horrid behavior.
- Judaism and Christianity.
Although they bear some similarities, the differences between Judaism and Christianity are remarkable and cause massive disputes until today.
- Online and on-campus studies.
While online classes provide students with more flexibility, they require more organizational and time-management skills to succeed at studies.
- Darwin and Lamarck
Although Darwin and Lamarck had similar views on the idea of species evolving over time, they had reached to different results in terms of the acquired traits inheritability.
- Hobbes and Locke
While Hobbes and Locke both had a major impact on the political philosophy, their views on the origin of moral principles of the right and wrong a man has.
- TV series and full-length film
The quality of modern TV series has increased immensely and sometimes matches the one of a full-length film, even though the two forms have some dramatic differences.
- Claude Monet and Pierre Auguste Renoir
Although the two painters had a close working relationship, they used different approaches to communicating their inner understanding of the world’s beauty.
- eBooks and paper books
While both eBooks and paper books have the same goal, the experience they bring to a reader is different and leads to several major distinctions between the two.
- Google and Facebook
Although Google and Facebook are designed for different purposes, they have multiple similarities of influencing people’s perceptions.
- Plato and Socrates.
Gambling addiction can be caused by several factors – impulse control disorder, genetics, past trauma syndrome- each having its particular impact on the behavior.
The success of any tennis player depends on his physical, mental, and emotional skills.
- Being a popular writer.
There is no unified success formula for authors to become successful but there are 5 main factors that can influence the writing career.
- Missions to the Moon.
The main reason for stopping further missions to the moon are the high cost and focus on more strategically important expenditures.
- How to survive on an island after a shipwreck.
There is a list of things one can do to prepare for a shipwreck and survive on an island before getting rescued that includes some physical training and thorough strategy.
- Random shootings.
The reasons behind the increasing number of random shootings in the U.S. are the growing fear of population and feeling of vulnerability.
Children diagnosed with autism need their parents to take a special approach to upbringing which includes a particular schedule of activities to avoid stress.
- Creative Professions.
The popularity of creative professions in the 21st century can be explained by the possibility of making robots do the hard routine tasks.
To minimize a major damage caused by a hurricane, every household needs to take thorough preventive measures.
- Caste system in India.
The phenomenon of a caste system in India was introduced as a mean of taking the local populations under control.
- Diversification in business is one of the most effective ways of assuring its success as it lets you have an alternative service or product to focus on during a critical situation.
- The symptoms of most of the eating disorders appear due to the stressful way of life.
- Creating a positive environment at a workplace increases employees’ motivation and reduces days of sick leave.
- Sharing responsibilities in the workplace between the members of one team project increases productivity by X% and helps people feel involved in the process.
- The lack of effective communication between colleagues and subordinates can lead to the decrease of productivity.
- The urge of changing workplaces and professions in the 21st century has the main reason of overall dissatisfaction with life. The feeling of uselessness and depression makes millennials search for a better place to work and live.
- Skills and knowledge do not matter for a top manager as long as they do not have a strong personality and leadership skills.
- The individual approach to every employee of New Balance corporation is an example of building a positive brand image without investing too much money in PR.
- Translation fails multinational companies make have a serious impact on the sales revenue.
- The case of IKEA demonstrates how good PR and social practices can turn society’s attention from the weaknesses of the company and make them its strengths.
- Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela is a marvelous example of inspirational writing that shows how it is possible to fight for civil rights on the streets and behind the prison bars.
- Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald shows us all the drastic consequences of having an illusion of a better life and making it the sense of one’s life.
- Pride and Prejudice was a revolutionary novel depicting a woman as a self-sufficient human being and not just a supplement to a man.
- The idea of the struggle against growing up plays the central role in The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger.
- In Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, we see that wealth and social class are secondary to loyalty and affection.
- The Odyssey is an epic masterpiece that teaches us that any life journey is filled up with a great number of obstacles and the outcome depends on how good we can cope with them.
- Through Goethe’s Faust, we can understand the real value of life and the significance of all the decisions we make as some of them may lead us to dramatic results.
- The central point Lord of the Flies makes us think about is the constant conflict between personal barbarism and the rigid rules of society.
- In the heart aching novel Of Mice and Men, we see the upsetting nature of human life as the sense of loneliness becomes dominant in all main characters.
- In The Brothers Karamazov, Dostoyevsky paints a picture of faith and doubt conflict and the unbearable burden of free will can change one’s life dramatically.
- There should be no controversy in terms of a gay character appearing in a Disney movie – Beauty and the Beast- in 2017 as the norms of our society has changed a lot.
- Donald Trump’s illogical and offensive behavior can be just a distraction from the world’s bigger political issues so that there would be no panic amongst the people.
- The phenomenon of higher education will be replaced by online courses and seminars in the nearest future as it is a more effective approach.
- Despite the protests, women’s objectification remains to be one of the central problems of perception of female beauty.
- Elon Musk’s ideas can help Australia and other countries to fight the energy problems and will be the future for the technological development as they are feasible and affordable.
- The government should stop supporting space missions trying to find extraterrestrial life due to the time factor. Unless we build a time machine, the time barrier will not let us find other forms of life elsewhere in the Universe.
- There should be more severe punishment for the sex offenders to reduce the cases of violence. The capital punishment is the most effective option in fighting these crimes.
- Parents should pay more attention to the time their children spend online because they need to know the difference between the real and virtual world from the early age.
- The biggest thing one can thieve from someone is no longer material but ephemeral – personal information. Because of the constant hackers attacks, it’s become impossible to feel safe.
- If the universities with a long history will not make the necessary adaptations to the modern educational system, the online education will take over the majority of world countries.
- The human factor is the reason of multiple aircraft extreme situations as only a few pilots are able to take fast and logical decisions under stress.
- The stereotype of a woman’s place being at home upbringing children starts to disappear, the gap between the salaries between two genders remains to be dramatic.
- Clothing is still the best way of introducing yourself to a person without saying anything.
- The type of a teachers’ salary that depends on the results of his work and not on the experience they have is becoming more and more popular.
- The concept of family is often the central topic in many of the world’s literature masterpieces.
- The effects of global warming become more visible with every year and can lead to the distinction of species.
- The sanctions upon the Russian Federation do not prove to be effective even a year from their initiation.
- The idea of degradation can be clearly seen in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby”.
- Homeopathy is nothing more than a placebo effect for a person.
- With the development of the digital era, the advertisers move their focus to online ads ignoring the effects of outdoor advertising.