Understanding Child Labour

Understanding who is a child

Before delving into the study of child labour, an individual need to understand who is a child according to national and international laws.

According to article 1 of the UN Convention of the Right of Child, a child is every human being who is below the age of 18 years unless national law recognises an earlier age of majority (UNCRC, 1989).

In England and Northern Ireland, a child is defined as someone who is under their 18th birthday. Once they become 18, they are considered legally as an adult, HM Government (2015). The term "child" may also refer to someone below another legally defined age limit unconnected to the age of majority. Abreu (2015). For example, in the United Kingdom, even though child is generally defined as someone below 18 years old, in compliance with EU age of majority, in Scotland Children’s Hearings and child protection orders, a child is defined as a person under 16 years of age, Scottish Government (2014), while in In Singapore, for example, according to Singapore Children and Young Persons Act, a child is someone who is under the age of 14 however, the age of majority in Singapore’s common law is 21 years (Swepston, 1982).

There are also different laws across the UK that specify age limits for young people in different circumstances. These include leaving care; the age of consent; and the age of criminal responsibility. NCPCC (2019). According to Jordan Civil Law of the year 1976, the age of majority is 18 (Genovese, 1976). Jordan juvenile law of 2014, defines a juvenile as anyone who has not completed his 18th birthday yet. Jordan has signed and ratified most international conventions and treaties including those pertaining to child rights and protections including UNCRC. Once ratified, national legalisations and policies, attempt to mirror the provisions of these conventions.

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Child Work and Child Labour in International Conventions

Three international conventions are fundamental for any child labour definition:

The International Labour Organization Convention No. 138 (in 1973) concerning Minimum Age for Admission to Employment and its supplementing recommendation no.146, hereinafter referred to as ILO C138 and R146 respectively.

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, ( in 1989), hereinafter referred to as UNCRC,

The International Labour Organization Convention No. 182 (in 1999) concerning the Prohibition and Immediate Action for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour and its supplementing recommendation no. 190, hereinafter referred to as ILO C 182 and R190 respectively.

ILO C138, Child Labour and Light Work

ILO C138 made abolishing child labour and raising minimum age it’s first and foremost goal. The minimum age for admission to employment was no less than 15 according to this convention, except in underdeveloped economies where the minimum age could be set to as low as 14 years old.

The convention made reference for employment or work that were deemed as unsuitable for anyone less than 18. These were broadly defined as the ones that could jeopardise the health, safety or morals of young persons. The same convention, however, has distinguished between permitted work or light work and the ones that needs to be abolished. Article 7 precisely defined light work as work that is:

(a) Not likely to be harmful to Children’s health or development; and

(b) not such as to prejudice Children attendance at school, their participation in vocational orientation or training programmes approved by the competent authority or their capacity to benefit from the instruction n received.

The minimum age permitted for light work in this article was 13 to 15 years old. The supplementary recommendation no. 146 for the same convention made reference to hazardous work yet it did not spell out the types of activities that are likely to be hazardous or to jeopardise the health, safety or morals of young persons (Al-Gamal et al., 2013).

Besides defining who is a child, the United Nations Conversion for the Rights of Child, UNCRC, has called to protect children from economic exploitation and hazardous work or work that could interfere with the child education (Magablih & Naamneh, 2010). Still, the convention did not define the type of economic activities which constitute hazardous work or the ones that constitute child labour from not. The convention did recognize the right of the child to work under conditions that do not affect the above mentioned situations.

The subsequent International Labour Organization, ILO, Convention 182 defined the worst forms of child labour as:

(a) all forms of slavery or practices similar to slavery, such as the sale and trafficking of children, debt bondage and serfdom and forced or compulsory labour, including forced or compulsory recruitment of children for use in armed conflict (Grootaert & Kanbur, 1995).

(b) The use, procuring or offering of a child for prostitution, for the production of pornography or for pornographic performances;

(c) The use, procuring or offering of a child for illicit activities, in particular for the production and trafficking of drugs as defined in the relevant international treaties;

(d) Work which, by its nature or the circumstances in which it is carried out, is likely to harm the health, safety or morals of children.

While, the supplementary recommendation to the same convention, known as Resolution 190, further defined hazardous work as:

(a) Work which exposes children to physical, psychological or sexual abuse;

(b) Work underground, under water, at dangerous heights or in confined spaces;

(c) Work with dangerous machinery, equipment and tools, or which involves the manual handling or transport of heavy loads;

(d) work in an unhealthy environment which may, for example, expose children to hazardous substances, agents or processes, or to temperatures, noise levels, or vibrations damaging to their health;

(e) Work under particularly difficult conditions such as work for long hours or during the night or work where the child is unreasonably confined to the premises of the employer.

From these conventions we can a draw a distinction between acceptable “light work” for a child, such as work in the context of education and training and “child labour” which is obviously deterrent to a child’s wellbeing and therefore needs to be abolished including the activities that were defined as worst forms of child labour and/or hazardous ones. Child work, hence, appears to be a more generic term that combines all the above-mentioned activities, even though the terms child work and child labour are often used interchangeably in child labour literature. (ICLS 2008)

AGAIN, AS DISCUSSED, MORE FRAMING NEEDED FOR THE READER. NOW YOU HAVE READ THE LEGAL CONVENTIONS, TRY TO FIND SOME SCHOLARLY COMMENTARY ON THE EVOLUTION OF INTERNATIONAL LAW ON THIS ISSUE. THIS WILL HELP YOU TELL US A CLEAR STORY, BEFORE YOU MOVE ON TO CONSIDER LANDSCAPE OF CHILD LABOUR AND LEGAL FRAMEWORKS IN JORDAN.

SUGGEST THINK ABOUT STRUCTURE YOUR RESEARCH AND WRITING FOR NOW AROUND ROUGH QUESTIONS LIKE (YOU CAN REWORK/REFINE, BUT THESE ARE THE BROAD THINGS YOU NEED TO THINK ABOUT IN PUTTING YOUR PROJECT TOGETHER):

WHO IS A CHILD? WHAT DOES BEING A CHILD MEAN?

CONCEPTUALISING LABOUR AND WORK

DEFININING CHILD LABOUR – SOCIAL PERSPECTIVES, LEGAL REGULATION, YOUR OWN WORKING DEFINITION

WHAT WE KNOW ABOUT CHILD LABOUR? PATTERNS, WHY DOES IT HAPPEN, WHAT IMPACT DOES IT HAVE? RESEARCH WORK ON THESE QUESTIONS…

LEGAL REGULATION/POLICY DEBATES

YOU COULD STRUCTURE REFERENCES TO JORDAN THROUGHOUT, BUT FOR NOW I THINK IT WOULD BE USEFUL TO TRY TO GET A GOOD SOLID GENERAL LITERATURE REVIEW DONE, THEN TO WORK ON A MORE DETAILED CONTEXT CHAPTER ON JORDAN SPECIFICALLY.

3- Child Labour in Jordan National Laws

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Bibliography

Abreu, L, 2015, Constituency Casework: A Guide to Age Related Legislation, House of Commons Library, available on file:///C:/Users/SOAS%20Student/Downloads/SN07032.pdf, accessed 14/02/2019.

Al-Gamal, E., Hamdan-Mansour, A.M., Matrouk, R. and Nawaiseh, M.A., 2013. The psychosocial impact of child labour in Jordan: a national study. International Journal of Psychology, 48(6), pp.1156-1164.

ILO Convention C138: Minimum Age Convention (Convention concerning Minimum Age for Admission to Employment) (1973) available from https://www.ilo.org/dyn/normlex/en/f?p=NORMLEXPUB:12100:0::NO::P12100_ILO_CODE:C138 , accessed 1/03/2019.

International Labour Organization, recommendation 190 - Recommendation concerning the prohibition and immediate action for the elimination of the worst forms of child labour, (1999), available from

International Labour Organization, recommendation C182, Convention concerning the Prohibition and Immediate Action for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour , (1999) , available from https://www.ilo.org/dyn/normlex/en/f?p=NORMLEXPUB:12100:0::NO::P12100_ILO_CODE:C182, accessed 01/03/2019.

Grootaert, C. and Kanbur, R., 1995. Child labour: An economic perspective. Int'l Lab. Rev., 134, p.187.

Genovese, E. D. (1976). Roll, Jordan, roll: The world the slaves made (Vol. 652). Vintage.

International Labour Organization, recommendation R146, Recommendation concerning Minimum Age for Admission to Employment, 1973, available from

Singapore Government, Children and Young Persons Act, 2001, Singapore Statutes Online, available on https://sso.agc.gov.sg/Act/CYPA1993, accessed 05/03/2019.

Swepston, L., 1982. Child labour: Its regulation by ILO standards and national legislation. Int'l Lab. Rev., 121, p.577.

The 18th International Conference of Labour Statisticians, 2008, resolution II, Resolution Concerning Statistics of Child Labour, available on https://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/---dgreports/---stat/documents/normativeinstrument/wcms_112458.pdf, accessed 08/03/2019.

The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, Civil Code 43, 1976, available on https://wipolex.wipo.int/en/legislation/details/2612, accessed 6/03/2019.

The Scottish Government, National Guidance for the Child Protection in Scotland, 2014, available on https://www2.gov.scot/Resource/0045/00450733.pdf, accessed 0103/2019.

United Nations General Assembly Session 44 Resolution 25. Convention on the Rights of the Child A/RES/44/25 20 November 1989. Retrieved 18/02/2019.

United Nations Treaty Collection. Convention on the Rights of the Child, 1989, available from https://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-11&chapter=4&lang=en, accessed 19/02/2019.

United Nations Treaty Collection: Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict available from https://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-11-b&chapter=4&lang=en, accessed 28/02/2019.

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