Child labor

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Article 25. (2) [...] childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children [...] shall enjoy the same social protection.

UNICEF[1] defines child labor as work that exceeds a minimum number of hours, depending on the age of a child and on the type of work. Such work is considered harmful to the child and should therefore be eliminated.

  • Ages 5-11: At least one hour of economic work or 28 hours of domestic work per week.
  • Ages 12-14: At least 14 hours of economic work or 28 hours of domestic work per week.
  • Ages 15-17: At least 43 hours of economic or domestic work per week.

Children engaged in child labor are everywhere but invisible, toiling as domestic servants in homes, laboring behind the walls of workshops, hidden from view in plantations, and behind their computer monitors. Labor often interferes with children’s education. Ensuring that all children go to school and that their education is of good quality are keys to preventing child labor.

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Child protection from exploitation and abuse

Building a protective environment

Millions of children worldwide are subjected to exploitation and abuse in communities, schools and institutions. Millions more, not yet victims, also remain without adequate protection. Protecting children from exploitation and abuse is an integral component of protecting their rights to growth and development. UNICEF’s commitment to protecting children is underlined in its Medium Term Strategic Plan and Child Protection Strategy. They draw on their Core Corporate Commitments, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Millennium Declaration, and numerous international human rights agreements as the basis for their response. UNICEF advocates and supports the creation of a protective environment for children in partnership with governments, national and international partners including the private sector, and civil society. National child protection systems, protective social practices and children’s own empowerment coupled with good oversight and monitoring are among the elements of a protective environment and enable countries, communities and families to prevent and respond to exploitation and abuse.

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Eight elements of a protective environment

Attitudes, traditions, customs, behavior and practices

The environment will not be protective for children in societies where attitudes or traditions facilitate exploitation. Children are more likely to be protected in societies where all forms of children exploitation are taboo and where the rights of children are broadly respected by custom and tradition.

Governmental commitment to fulfilling protection rights

Government commitment to respecting, protecting and fulfilling child protection is an essential element of a protective environment. Very often governments will deny that there is a problem in their country, when in reality exploitation of children is found all around the world. Instead, governments need to show commitment to creating strong legal frameworks that comply with international legal standards, policies and programs and enforcing and implementing them to protect children.

Open discussion and engagement with child protection issues

At the most immediate level, children need to be free to speak up about child protection concerns affecting them or other children. At the national level, media attention and civil society engagement with child protection issues strengthen a protective environment. Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) need to take up protection as a priority. The silence must be broken.

Protective legislation and enforcement

An adequate legislative framework designed to protect children from exploitation, its implementation and enforcement are essential elements of a protective environment.

Globally, UNICEF supports governments to commit to international standards like International Labor Organization Convention 182 on the Worst Forms of Child Labor, which has been ratified by 132 governments as of November 2002. UNICEF also assists governments in ensuring that laws are in place to prosecute employers who take advantage of children through, for example, bonded labor.

The capacity to protect among those around children

Those who interact with children need to be equipped with the motivation, skills and authority to identify and respond to child protection abuses. The capacity of communities to protect their children is essential in a protective environment.

Children’s life skills, knowledge and participation

Children are less vulnerable to abuse when they are aware of their right not to be exploited, or of services available to protect them. With the right information, children can draw upon their knowledge, skills and resilience to reduce their risk of exploitation.

Monitoring and reporting

An effective monitoring system records the incidence and nature of child protection abuses and allows for informed and strategic responses. Such systems are more effective where they are participatory and locally-based.

Services for recovery and reintegration

Child victims of any form of exploitation or abuse are entitled to care and non-discriminatory access to basic social services. These services must be provided in an environment that fosters the health, self-respect and dignity of the child.

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Adapting a systems approach to child protection

Increasingly, international organizations such as UNICEF, Save the Children, and UNHCR are turning to "a systems approach" to establish or strengthen comprehensive child protection efforts. Earlier child protection efforts traditionally focused on single issues and while they had their merits, they often resulted in a fragmented child protection response. Rather than treat each child safety concern in isolation, the systems approach promotes a holistic view of children and child protection that necessarily engages the full range of actors involved in protecting children’s rights. UNICEF commissioned Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago and the American Humane Society to review academic and professional literature on child protection systems. The result is a conceptual framework that is detailed in the paper "Adapting a Systems Approach to Child Protection: Key Concepts and Considerations".

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Building a protective environment for children

Millions of children across the globe are victims of exploitation and abuse each year. Children can only be freed from exploitation and abuse when they live in a “protective environment” that shields them against this exploitation. A protective environment is a safety net which prevents abuses from happening.

The safety net all children need

A protective environment is about living in safety and dignity. It helps to ensure that children are in school, laws are in place to punish those who exploit children, governments are truly committed to protection, communities are aware of the risks which children face and monitoring is in place to identify children who are at risk of exploitation. Children will never be free from exploitation until all levels of society—from the family to the international community—work together. When any of the layers of the protective environment is stripped away, a child becomes more vulnerable to exploitation and abuse. Key to understanding the protective environment approach is recognizing that child protection cuts across all of UNICEF’s priority areas. Even strong, physically healthy children can be victims of abuse. Creating a protective environment is the basis of UNICEF’s strategy for protecting children.

"Your only legal rights on Wikipedia are your right to fork and your right to leave." [6]

Wikimedia background material

"Your only legal rights on Wikipedia are your right to fork and your right to leave." [7]


"Your only legal rights on Wikipedia are your right to fork and your right to leave." [8]


"Your only legal rights on Wikipedia are your right to fork and your right to leave." [9]

Minors concealing their age

"Your only legal rights on Wikipedia are your right to fork and your right to leave." [10]

Human rights

On December 10, 1948 the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted and proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights [...]. Following this historic act the Assembly called upon all Member countries to publicize the text of the Declaration and "to cause it to be disseminated, displayed, read and expounded principally in schools and other educational institutions, without distinction based on the political status of countries or territories."[11]


Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,

[...] the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people,

Whereas it is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule of law,


Whereas the peoples of the United Nations have in the Charter reaffirmed their faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person and in the equal rights of men and women and have determined to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom,


Whereas a common understanding of these rights and freedoms is of the greatest importance for the full realization of this pledge,

Now, Therefore THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY proclaims THIS UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations, to the end that every individual and every organ of society, keeping this Declaration constantly in mind, shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms and by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance [...]

Article 1. All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

Article 25. (2) [...] childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children [...] shall enjoy the same social protection.

Article 28. Everyone is entitled to a social and international order in which the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration can be fully realized.

Article 29. (1) Everyone has duties to the community in which alone the free and full development of his personality is possible. (2) In the exercise of his rights and freedoms, everyone shall be subject only to such limitations as are determined by law solely for the purpose of securing due recognition and respect for the rights and freedoms of others and of meeting the just requirements of morality, public order and the general welfare in a democratic society. (3) These rights and freedoms may in no case be exercised contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.

Article 30. Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying for any [...] group or person any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms set forth herein.

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Legal Framework

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External links

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