TWN Info Service on WTO and Trade Issues (Jun17/10)
16 June 2017
Third World Network
In "historic" move, India ratifies ILO Conventions on child labour
Published in SUNS #8482 dated 15 June 2017
Geneva, 14 Jun (Kanaga Raja) - The Government of India, on Tuesday 13 June,
deposited at the International Labour Office, its instruments of ratification
of two fundamental International Labour Organisation (ILO) Conventions on the
elimination of child labour.
According to an ILO news release, the ILO Conventions in question are the
Minimum Age Convention, 1973 (No. 138) and the Worst Forms of Child Labour
Convention, 1999 (No. 182).
The ILO is currently holding the 106th session of its International Labour
Conference here. Earlier on the same day, Jamaica became the 14th member State
to ratify the Protocol of 2014 to the Forced Labour Convention of 1930 as well
as the 84th member State to ratify the Maritime Labour Convention of 2006.
India now becomes the 170th member State of the ILO to ratify Convention No.
138 and the 181st member State to ratify Convention No. 182.
Convention No. 138 concerning the minimum age for admission to employment
requires member States that have ratified the Convention to specify a minimum
age for admission to employment or work within its territory and on means of
transport registered in its territory, and that subject to Articles 4 to 8 of
the Convention, no one under that age shall be admitted to employment or work
in any occupation, except in cases of light work and artistic performances.
Convention No. 182 concerning the prohibition and immediate action for the
elimination of the worst forms of child labour requires member States that have
ratified the Convention to take immediate and effective measures to secure the
prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labour as a matter of
For the purposes of the Convention, the worst forms of child labour comprises
(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
(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; and
(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.
According to the ILO news release, the Minister of Labour and Employment of
India, Mr. Bandaru Dattatreya, said that ratification of the two ILO
Conventions reaffirmed his country's "commitment to a child labour free
Speaking at the event on handing over of India's instruments of ratification
here on Tuesday, Mr Dattatreya said today is "a historic moment" for
India "as we are going to take another giant step to affirm our commitment
for a child labour free India" by deciding to ratify the ILO's Conventions
on minimum age in employment, and on the worst forms of child labour.
This will also mean integrating India's national efforts and international
commitments in order to eradicate child labour, said the Minister, noting that
India has ratified six out of eight core or fundamental Conventions of the ILO.
According to a press release issued by the Permanent Mission of India to the UN
here, the Minister also said that the Government of India has been working in a
concerted manner to eliminate child labour from the country by following a
multi-pronged strategy by including both stringent legislative and
He noted that a landmark step in the endeavour to have a child labour free
society was the enactment of the Child labour (Prohibition and Prevention)
amendment Act, 2016 in August 2016 that provides for complete prohibition on
employment of children below 14 years in all occupations and processes and
prohibits employment of adolescents (14-18 years) in hazardous occupations and
He said the age of admission to employment has been linked to the age of
compulsory education under Right to Education Act (RTE), 2009.
According to the press release, besides the amendment in the Act, the Indian
Minister said that the Government of India has also notified the amendment in
the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Central Rules after extensive
consultation with the stakeholders.
The Rules for the first time provide a broad and specific framework for
prevention, prohibition, rescue and rehabilitation of child and adolescent
Specific provisions have been incorporated in the rules in order to clarify
issues related to help in family and family enterprises and definition of
family with respect to child.
Further, it also provides for safeguards of artists which have been permitted
to work under the Act, in terms of hours of work and working conditions.
The rules also provide for specific provisions incorporating duties and
responsibilities of enforcement agencies in order to ensure effective
implementation and compliance of the provisions of the Act.
The Minister mentioned that among the various measures taken recently to meet
the objective of the child labour free society, the prominent one was
strengthening of the National Child Labour Project (NCLP), which is a
rehabilitative scheme, providing bridge education and vocational training to
This scheme has been strengthened recently in terms of improving its quality
and extending its coverage to all the districts of the country. For effective
implementation of the project, the NCLP guidelines have been reviewed.
"The momentum of the recent initiatives taken to eradicate child labour
has to be maintained as elimination of child labour is also crucial for the
attainment of Sustainable Development Goals by 2030," Mr Dattatreya
Also speaking at the event, ILO Director-General Guy Ryder said that India's
ratifications of Conventions No. 138 and No. 182 are an "historic
"We all recognize the great progress India has made against child labour
in recent years and the major role played by its convergence model of coherence
between public policies and services, which was strongly supported by the
Today, he said, India's ratifications of Conventions 138 and 182 solidifies
further - in treaty obligations - that commitment to the global fight against
the scourge of child labour in all its forms.
They also represent a positive step on the country's path towards full respect
for fundamental rights at work.
From today, Ryder said, "as a result of what we are about to do,
Convention 182 on the worst forms of child labour will cover more than 99 per
cent of the world's children, and the coverage of Convention 138 on minimum age
in employment will leap from approximately 60 per cent in the world to almost
80 per cent."
According to Ryder, this is a huge advance in the long march towards
eradication of child labour in all of its forms worldwide, which is in
Sustainable Development Goal Target 8.7 of the 2030 Sustainable Development
Agenda of the United Nations.
According to the ILO news release, India's ratification confirms the status of
Convention No. 182 as the most rapidly ratified ILO Convention.
Universal ratification is within reach: as of today, only six member States
remain to ratify this fundamental Convention. This reflects the overwhelming
global consensus, as re-affirmed by the adoption of the Sustainable Development
Goals, and more particularly Goal 8-Target 8.7, which aims at the complete eradication
of child labour by 2025 and calls for immediate action to prohibit and
eliminate its worst forms, said Ryder.
"I want to pay tribute to the government, to the employers, to the trade
unions and to civil society in India and to all who have assisted them in
building an extraordinary alliance in India over the past decades - an alliance
that made this latest great step possible," said the ILO Director-General.
In this context, Ryder also mentioned 2014 Nobel Peace Laureate Kailash
Satyarthi (an Indian activist fighting child labour), saying that his prize has
been a source of pride for all India as well as for the ILO.
Meanwhile, in a video message on India's ratification of both ILO Conventions,
Mr Satyarthi said: "India now joins the club of those countries which are
collectively committed to put an end to the menace of slavery and child
He thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Labour Minister Dattatreya for
taking this bold step in ratifying ILO Conventions 138 and 182.
"That means we are expressing our strong resolve that we are going to put
an end to all forms of child labour up to the age of 14 and all worst forms of
child labour like slavery, trafficking, forced labour up to the age of
18," said Mr Satyarthi.