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President Clinton: Working To Eliminate Abusive Child Labor Around the World
The Clinton/Gore Administration: A Strong Record
of Working To Eliminate Abusive Child Labor Around The World
July 5, 2000
Today's signing by President Clinton of the United
Nations Optional Protocols prohibiting the forcible recruitment of children for
use in armed conflict and protecting children from slavery, prostitution and
pornography builds on the Clinton/Gore Administration's record of working to
eliminate the worst forms of child labor around the world.
PRESIDENT CLINTON HAS MADE AMERICA A LEADER IN WORKING TO PREVENT
ABUSIVE CHILD LABOR AROUND THE WORLD:
In his 1998 State of the Union address, President Clinton called upon
the Congress and other nations to join in the fight against "the most
intolerable labor practice of all abusive child labor."
Building on these commitments, the President in his 1999 State of the
Union address vowed: "[We] will lead the international community to conclude a
treaty to ban abusive child labor everywhere in the world."
In his 2000 State of the Union address, the President again called
for the elimination of abusive child labor.
IN 1999, THE PRESIDENT SPOKE TO THE ILO IN GENEVA URGING THE ADOPTION
OF CONVENTION 182 TO ELIMINATE THE WORST FORMS OF CHILD LABOR:
In June of 1999, President Clinton became the first U.S. President to
travel to Geneva to address the ILO Conference. He urged members to adopt
Convention 182 and pledged to seek its ratification.
On December 2, 1999, with bipartisan support from the Senate,
President Clinton signed ILO Convention Number 182 "the Convention
Concerning the Prohibition and Immediate Action for Elimination of the Worst
Forms of Child Labor."
In signing Convention 182, President Clinton noted that tens of
millions of children "are still forced to work in conditions that shock the
conscience and haunt the soul. If we want to slam the door shut on abusive
child labor," he stated, "we must open the door wide to education and
Recognizing the importance of education in eliminating child labor,
the convention requires ratifying nations to take steps to ensure access to
The convention applies to all children under the age of 18, and
defines the worst forms of child labor to include:
All forms of slavery and practices similar to slavery such as
forced or compulsory labor, including forced or compulsory recruitment of
children for use in armed conflicts.
The use of children in prostitution, pornography, drug production
and drug trafficking.
The employment of children in work likely to harm their health,
safety or moral well being.
UNDER THE CLINTON/GORE ADMINISTRATION, THE UNITED STATES HAS BECOME
THE WORLD'S LARGEST CONTRIBUTOR TO THE INTERNATIONAL PROGRAM FOR THE
ELIMINATION OF CHILD LABOR (IPEC):
In fiscal year 1999, President Clinton, with the encouragement and
support of Senator Tom Harkin (D. Iowa), increased U.S. contributions to IPEC
tenfold to $30 million making this country the world's largest
contributor. That funding level was maintained for fiscal year 2000.
Since 1995, the U.S. has funded projects to prevent or remove some
120,500 children in Africa, Asia and Latin America from dangerous or abusive
work in many industries (including commercial agriculture, mining, fishing, the
production of soccer balls, carpets, garments, fireworks, and footwear), as
well as prostitution and domestic service.
BUILDING ON THIS RECORD, THE CLINTON/GORE ADMINISTRATION HAS PROPOSED
TO MORE THAN DOUBLE RESOURCES TO COMBAT ABUSIVE CHILD LABOR IN THE 2001 BUDGET:
President Clinton has proposed $110 million in his FY 2001 budget
more than doubling last year's level of $45 million -- to help
eliminate abusive child labor around the world. This $110 million commitment
A 50% increase in the U.S. contribution to the ILO's
International Program for the Elimination of Child Labor (IPEC) to $45
$55 million in new funding for targeted bilateral educational
assistance to promote school rather than work in countries where exploitative
child labor is prevalent.
Doubling to $10 million Customs Service resources
to enforce the ban on the importation of goods made with forced or indentured
child labor, denying such products access to the lucrative U.S.
THE PROBLEM OF ABUSIVE CHILD LABOR
The ILO estimates that there are at least 250 million working
children between the ages of five and 14 in developing countries -- about half
of them work full-time and do not attend school.
Tens of millions of children work under very hazardous and abusive
conditions. Around the world, young children in their formative years are
exposed to hazardous conditions, including toxic and carcinogenic substances in
manufacturing, dangerous conditions in mines and on sea fishing platforms, and
backbreaking physical labor.
Some children labor in bondage, are sold into prostitution, or are
indentured to manufacturers, working against debts for wages so low that they
will never be repaid.
The majority (61 percent) of the working children are found in Asia,
followed by Africa (32 percent), and Latin America and the Caribbean (seven
percent). While Asia, by far the most populous region, has the highest number
of child workers, Africa, the poorest region, has the highest proportion of
child workers, with 41 percent of its children engaged in some form of economic
Basic education improves the lives of children, their families, their
countries, and the global community. Despite the benefits of education, about
20 percent--or 145 million--of the world's children six to 11 year-olds are out
Groups under-served by education are often over-represented in child
labor. Among these groups are girls, rural communities, specific linguistic and
ethnic groups and the poor. For example, girls are more likely to work longer
hours and be engaged in "invisible" domestic service. It is estimated that
two-thirds of the out-of-school population are girls.