chapter  18
Child labour, working children and children’s rights
ByKarl Hanson, DianaVolonakis and Mohammed Al-Rozzi
Pages 15

Over the last two decades, and increasingly since the adoption of ILO Convention No. 182 on theWorst Forms of Child Labour in 1999, the question of how the children’s rights framework relates to child labour has been the subject of intense debates, not only between child rights advocates and policy makers, but also amongst academics (for an excellent overview of the debate, see Bourdillon, 2006). The dominant and most widespread view is that child labour denies children the right to enjoy their childhood and chances for a better future, and in particular deprives them of their schooling and therefore needs to be abolished. This position is aptly illustrated by the slogan ‘School is the best place to work’, with which a large international coalition of development organizations, trade unions, education unions and local NGOs campaign to eliminate all forms of child labour and to ensure quality full-time formal education for all children, at least until the age of 15.1 Such a straightforward position that all child labour needs to be abolished and all children sent to school has been questioned, in particular by working children’s organizations that argue that age-appropriate work in dignified conditions can play a positive role in childhood. For instance, the Concerned forWorking Children, an Indian NGO which is a member of the international movement of working children’s organizations, claims that it is their rights as workers that need to be recognized and that efforts should be undertaken to improve children’s working conditions, rather than abolishing their work.2