| |

"Global March against Child Labour" arrives in Geneva

Convention on child labour should be passed in 1999

In May, 40 former child workers and representatives from children's rights organisations came to Germany on their way to Geneva. The goal of the "Global March against Child Labour", which was called by Kailash Satyarthi, head of the South Asian Alliance against Child Slavery, was a conference of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) that met in Geneva at the beginning of June to discuss a new convention on child labour. The marchers were demanding from the ILO not only "Education instead of Exploitation" as was visible on the placards, but also a strict prohibition of the extreme forms of child labour and an improvement in the control procedures. Child prostitution and child labour in the carpet industry are two of the most extreme forms. Together with Misereor, "Bread for the World" contributed to the financing of the office in New Delhi for the international march. In Germany, the German Alliance of the "World-wide March for Children's Rights" came into being, to which belong "Bread for the World" and Misereor, Children's Emergency Relief, and the two denominational youth associations, aej and BDKJ, as well as DGB and Fair Trade e.V.. Frau Christiane Herzog became patroness. The march was met in Bonn by Dr. Antje Vollmer, representing the German Parliament. The Labour Minister Norbert Blüm used the opportunity anew to promote the sale of "Rugmark" carpets, produced without child labour. The former child workers visited schools wherever they went. They told their life stories and asked the German school children what they knew and thought about child labour. As a sign of solidarity, the German children provided their foreign guests with 110,000 thumb prints and an artistic banner to accompany them on their way. On 29. May, the foreign marchers reached the Swiss border. A second march came by way of the USA and Spain, a third march through Italy. As the marchers with Kailash Satyarthi at the head marched into the ILO's opening ceremony, they were greeted with warm applause by the delegates. The consultations were also influenced by the "Global March". The "core marchers" were able to present their demands and over seven million thumb prints to the ILO conference on 3. June. The demands, that the German Alliance presented to the German government on 25. May, led to a joint resolution by all parties in the German Parliament. The motion formed the guidelines for the German government delegation in Geneva. It is due to the campaign of the Global March, that the ILO conference decided to commit all its signatories to the convention (initially only a recommendation was scheduled), to work out and implement a national action programme against child labour, and to introduce "suitable mechanisms" to monitor the application of regulations to abolish the worst forms of child labour. However, the demand for more involvement of non-government organisations in drawing up and supervising of these action plans could not be carried. The convention on child labour should be passed in summer 1999.