Child Labor in Human Rights Law and Policy Perspective
HUMAN RIGHTS IN LABOR AND EMPLOYMENT RELATIONS, James A. Gross, Lance Compa, eds., Labor & Employment Relations Association Series, 2009
52 Pages Posted: 24 Mar 2012 Last revised: 10 May 2014
Date Written: March 12, 2012
This essay ― which defines "child labor" as work done by children that is “exploitive, hazardous, and otherwise contrary to children's best interests,” in contrast to "child work" which may be “beneficial,” “benign,” or “harmless” ― is derived from Burns H. Weston & Mark B. Teerink, "Rethinking Child Labor: A Multidimensional Human Rights Problem" and "Abolishing Child Labor: A Multifaceted Human Rights Solution," in Child Labor and Human Rights: Making Children Matter chs. 1 & 10 (Boulder & London: Lynne Rienner, Burns H. Weston ed., 2005). Child labor, this essay argues, constitutes a blight on human civility and thus begs to be abolished. But as child labor manifests itself in complex ways, its eradication requires multidisciplinary, multifaceted, and multisectoral approaches. This strategy, from which no form or level of social organization can legitimately claim exemption, the author reasons, is best achieved via a deep and widespread commitment to the application of human rights law and policy, which includes the right of children to influence their own lives. To actually succeed at bringing about broad-based change, however, a rights-based approach to the abolition of child labor must include more than normative appeals to the moral conscience; it must embrace also, the author contends, a nuts-and-bolts agenda that includes both legal and "extra-legal" means to abolish child labor. Reorienting one's worldview is essential, he argues, but it is not sufficient.
Keywords: Child Labor, Child Work, Human Rights
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