State of the World's ChildrenState of the World's Children

UNICEF demands urgent action to end hazardous child labour.

"Hazardous child labour is a betrayal of every child's rights as a human being and is an offense against our civilization," says UNICEF in The State of the World's Children 1997.

The report, by UNICEF's Executive Director, Carol Bellamy, stresses the progress the world has made in protecting children and ensuring their rights. But it also highlights exploitative child labour as one of the worst abuses of those rights and confronts the myth that such practices have been eliminated from the industrialized world.

The State of the World's Children 1997 explains the profound shift in the world's thinking about children and their rights that has taken place in the past 50 years and is embodied in the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Convention — now the most widely ratified human rights agreement in history — legally obligates ratifying countries to protect children's rights and to ensure that children's best interests are taken into account when actions are undertaken for them.

One of those rights is to be protected from exploitative or hazardous labour. The report surveys the extent of the problem worldwide, while exposing four of the commonly held myths about child labour. It includes a positive investigation of key actions to be taken to eliminate hazardous child labour, from providing free and compulsory primary education to implementing and enforcing legislation, from empowering the poor to mobilizing society and adopting corporate codes of conduct.

As usual, the publication contains statistical tables of health, nutrition, demographic, economic and other indicators — including child mortality rates, immunization levels, school enrolment and safe water access — to offer a detailed profile of children's lives around the world. (These are available in the full-text pdf version.)

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