Convention No. 182

Convention No. 182 on the Worst Forms of Child Labour was adopted in June 1999. It calls for the prohibition and the elimination of the worst forms of child labour, as a matter of urgency. The following text is a simplified narrative version of Convention No. 182. To see the full Convention, in its original form and by article, please click here. You can also navigate these web pages to discover further related resources.

The worst forms of child labour

Convention No. 182 defines the worst forms of child labour as:

  • All types of slavery, including the sale and trafficking of children; forced labour to pay off a debt; any other type of forced labour, including using children in war and armed conflict;
  • All activities which sexually exploit children, such as prostitution, pornography or pornographic performances;
  • Any involvement in illegal activities, especially the production or trafficking of drugs;
  • Any work which could damage the health, safety or well-being of children (so called “hazardous work”).

Action to identify child labour, the drawing up of laws and programmes of action, monitoring and evaluation

Every country approving and agreeing to the Convention through “ratification” must take immediate action to abolish the worst forms of child labour, and, in this Convention, the word “child” refers to anyone under 18 years of age.

In respect of “hazardous work”, each country must define in laws the types of work which could damage the health, safety or well-being of children under 18, so that they are protected against these kinds of work. When developing these laws, the authorities in each country must work in cooperation with organizations of employers and workers. The authorities should regularly discuss the existing list of hazardous work with organizations of employers and workers, and update their laws if necessary.

Every country must find ways to monitor how the Convention is applied, in order to ensure that the law is respected. Every country must take measures where necessary to ensure that the worst forms of child labour do not occur or are eliminated.

Every country should also create special programmes of action to eliminate the worst forms of child labour, in consultation with employers’ and workers’ organizations.

Every country that has ratified Convention No. 182 must make sure that the law forbids the worst forms of child labour, and do everything possible to ensure that the law is respected. If a country comes across instances of the worst forms of child labour, it must take action to punish the people responsible for these criminal acts.

The importance of education

Each country has to take into account the importance of education for children. Countries must work hard to take action – within a specific timeframe – to:

  • Prevent children from becoming involved in the worst forms of child labour.
  • Help to remove children from the worst forms of child labour, and ensure protection and support for the children’s reintegration into society.
  • Give children the possibility to go to school for free and give opportunities for skills training to older children who have been taken out of the worst forms of child labour.
  • Identify and help children who may be at special risk.
  • Consider the especially vulnerable situation of girls.

Working in partnership and solidarity with others

Countries are asked to help each other to implement Convention No. 182 through international cooperation. They could help each other on issues related to social or economic development, reducing poverty and making it possible for all children to get an education.

The pictures on this page come from the GenevaWorld Association exhibition “Children’s views of child labour”. Pictures on the top of this page were drawn by Mizra, 12 yrs, Singapore; Huynh, 16 yrs, Vietnam; Hanif, 15 yrs, Indonesia; Eugène, 11 yrs, Madagascar. © GenevaWorld.