|Action Against Child Labour (ILO, 2000, 356 p.)|
|5. Strategies to address child slavery|
|5.2 INTERNATIONAL ACTION AGAINST CHILD SLAVERY|
In 1926, the League of Nations adopted the Slavery Convention for the prevention and suppression of the slave trade and abolition of slavery. Slavery is defined as "the status or condition of a person over whom any or all of the powers attaching to the right of ownership are exercised" (Article 1). In 1956, a Supplementary Convention on the Abolition of Slavery applied in particular to debt bondage and serfdom. It defines debt bondage as "the status or condition arising from a pledge by a debtor of his personal services or those of a person under his control as security for a debt, if the value of those services as reasonably assessed is not applied towards the liquidation of the debt or the length and nature of those services are not respectively limited and defined" (Article 1 (a)). It also calls for the abolition of any institution or practice "whereby a child or young person under the age of 18 years is delivered by either or both of his natural parents or by his guardian to another person, whether for reward or not, with a view to the exploitation of the child or young person or of his labour" (Article 1(d)).
The Supplementary Convention on the Abolition of Slavery (1956) was inspired by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted in 1948, which proclaimed that "no one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms". The International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights, adopted in 1966, echoes the assertion of the same rights. It states that "no one shall be held in slavery; slavery and the slave trade in all their forms shall be prohibited...", "no one shall be held in servitude"; and "no one shall be required to perform forced or compulsory labour".
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, adopted in 1989, contains specific provisions against various forms of child exploitation. Article 32 of the Convention provides for the protection of the child from economic exploitation and from performing any work which 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. Article 34 requires the State to protect the child from all forms of sexual exploitation and sexual abuse, and to take appropriate national, bilateral and multilateral measures. Article 35 imposes a similar obligation on the State concerning abduction, sale or trafficking in children. Article 36 provides for the protection of the child from all forms of exploitation prejudicial to any aspect of the child's welfare.
Box 5.9. International efforts to end child slavery
· International legal instruments of the ILO and the United Nations provide the legal framework for the abolition of all forms of child slavery and practices similar to slavery.
· International organizations cooperate to tackle the problem. For example, in 1992, the ILO, in collaboration with the United Nations Centre for Human Rights, organized the Asian Regional Seminar on Children in Bondage in Pakistan.
· The ILO Committee of Experts raises the issue of bonded labour - including child bondage - every year, and keeps the issue alive on the agenda of governments.
· The ILO's International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC) places a high priority on child bondage and supports action programmes to combat the practice in different countries.
· The United Nations Working Group on Contemporary Forms of Slavery, set up in 1974, reviews the reports and testimonies of NGOs on child bondage every year.
· International NGOs increasingly accord special attention to child labour and mobilize public opinion. Anti-Slavery International acts as coordinator for the NGO subgroup on child labour with the Committee on the Rights of the Child.