The regulation of Child Labor under the International Law

Author: Aman Verma, Bharati Vidyapeeth University.


In the world, where the most populated countries, around two in ten children are engaged in child labour. The most observed reason behind it is Poverty and lack of schools. In a country, there are so many families which belongs to below poverty line and that is the only concern for which they push their children to work and earn for their family livelihood. Since there is no way of education for the children who are below poverty line, this major topic, so called “child Labour” has become Headline of every day’s newspaper. This article will give a decent knowledge about how the child labour is increasing in different sectors Internationally and how the international law is implementing laws to regulate child labor.


Indian Lawyer and Social Activist Mahatma Gandhi once said that “If we are to teach real peace in this world, and if we are to carry on a real war against war, we shall have to begin with the children[1]”. Basically,every work is not a part of child labour. Some of these works are included such activities like helping their parents in home works, support family in the family business, and other small works which help a child to earn some perks as his pocket money which they can do after their school hours. These activities contribute to children’s development and to the welfare of their family. A child can develop his mental and physical ability by taking initiative in these activities and grow his work efficiency for future aspects.

But the meaning of Child Labour is often different. It means that a work condition where children are engaged in work which deprives them from their childhood, their potential and dignity. It consists of works that is mentally or physically or morally harmful to children which affects their physical and mental development. This environment majorly interferes with their schooling. The worst form of child labour is that, where children are involved for being enslaved or separated from their families, often at a very young age.

Historical Background

Basically, in pre-industrial societies, Children usually were engaged in activities such as hunting, child rearing and farming for the welfare of their families. While those children who were at the age of 13, were considered as adults and engage in the same activities as an adult person do. Non-literate societies wanted their children to attend school so that they are able to live a normal life and not become a part of child labouring. In the 18th century, After the commencement of Industrial Revolution, Child labour played a very significant role to work for their family welfare. In this period, the children were expected to work and contribute to their family income. But in the earliest 19th century, child labour began to decline to industrialized societies. The first act was passed by Britain in 1803 to regulate child labour.As time passed, the International government introduced new rules so that they can control the practice of child labour.

Regulations Under the International Law

With the development of child labour laws on a domestic level, the idea of international regulation was supported by the regulatory, economic and humanitarian arguments. If a country has less labour regulatory laws, it would be a gateway or a factor to attract employers from other parts of the world, which will definitely a disadvantage for those countries who have strict labour laws such as developed countries. The regulation of child labour would be a sacrifice to the labour protection, and the economic aspect of child labour protection, poverty will play a very significant role on the lifestyle of poor family.

To regulate the rapid increase of child labour practice, theUnited Nation established The International Convention on the Rights of the Child[2]” (ICRC), to recognize the rights of every single child to protect them from a working environment which is hazardous and harmful to their health and personal development. The ICRC requires governments to set a minimum age for employment,so that the practice of child labouring could be prevented.For that regulation, TheInternational Labour organization (ILO) has recognized the minimum age of employment which is 15 years, 18 years for hazardous work, and 16 years under certain strict restrictions.The ILO also has prohibited children from working in the worst form of child labour, where a child has to work as a slave or being a part of human trafficking by residing far away from his family.


The term “Child Labour” can mislead the society in the name of employment that may be beneficial for the children. This also ignores all harmful work which is to be done outside their job. Children usually choose to work to improve their lives for a short- and long-term aspect. The money, which they contribute by doing any work is more important if their families are poor. The demographic structure of 18th and 19th century Britain led to an increased burden of dependency among poor families. On a daily observation, many International laws are getting implemented to restrict or prohibit child labour, not in the household sector, but in the hazardous work environment such as chemical factories, construction sites, etc.


[1] 10 Quotes, World Day Against Child Labour 2020: 10 Quotes That Perfectly Describe Children (

[2] Official website, International Labour Organization (


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: