Fair Trade and Child Labor

63 Pages Posted: 27 Apr 2011 Last revised: 16 Sep 2013

See all articles by Shima Baradaran Baughman

Shima Baradaran Baughman

University of Utah - S.J. Quinney College of Law

Stephanie H. Barclay

Notre Dame Law School

Date Written: April 26, 2011


Child labor is a global problem that has attracted much discussion. Various solutions proposed include attempts at improving international compliance with human rights standards, levying of trade sanctions or boycotts, and increasing legislation and prosecution of crimes. None of these solutions have achieved more than marginal success, largely because they are rarely enforced and ignore the root causes of child labor and global market forces.

The use of fair trade labeling to combat child labor is an approach that has received virtually no attention in the legal community. Yet, primary qualitative research and case studies presented here illustrate that fair trade should be considered as a proven alternative to current strategies to eliminate child labor. First, it relies on market incentives and private monitoring with effective punishments of noncomplying fair trade companies. Second, it is voluntary and private, avoiding the political problems with international monitoring which rarely end in enforcement or penalties. Third, unlike prosecutions that focus on a small number of the resulting problems of child labor and trafficking, fair trade focuses on improving incomes, working conditions, health, and education of a large number of workers.

Keywords: child labor, fair trade, human trafficking, global economy, prosecution, child trafficking, employee rights, law, malawi, private monitoring, international monitoring, trade sanction, boycott, human rights

Suggested Citation

Baughman, Shima Baradaran and Barclay, Stephanie H., Fair Trade and Child Labor (April 26, 2011). Columbia Human Rights Law Review, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1823546

Shima Baradaran Baughman (Contact Author)

University of Utah - S.J. Quinney College of Law ( email )

383 S. University Street
Salt Lake City, UT 84112-0730
United States

Stephanie H. Barclay

Notre Dame Law School ( email )

Eck Hall of Law
Notre Dame, IN 46556
United States
574-631-9407 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://https://law.nd.edu/directory/stephanie-barclay/

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