Child labour is considered any type of employment of children in any work that deprives them of their childhood, interferes with their ability to attend regular school, and that is mentally, physically, socially or morally dangerous and harmful.
It is a common phenomenon throughout the world but mostly in third-world countries where, according to UNICEF, one in four children are engaged in child labour. Worldwide, an estimated 246 million children are considered child labourers. The Asia and Pacific region harbours the largest number of child workers in the 5 to 14 age group, 127.3 million in total (19 per cent of children are working in the region), sub-Saharan Africa has an estimated 48 million child workers. Almost one child in three (29 per cent) below the age of 15 is economically active, Latin America and the Caribbean harbours approximately 17.4 million child workers (16 per cent of children in the region are working), 15 per cent of children in the Middle East and North Africa are working, approximately 2.5 million and 2.4 million children are working in developed and transition economies respectively, reports UNICEF in factsheet.

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"Child labour, especially in its worst forms, and forced labour, are serious violations and abuses of human rights and human dignity," the Buenos Aires Declaration states, adding that "they are both cause and consequence of poverty, inequality, discrimination, social exclusion and lack of access to education."

Child labour is also considered the forced recruitment of child soldiers, the use, procuring or offering of a child for prostitution, for the production of pornography or for pornographic performances, the use, procuring or offering of a child for illicit activities, in particular for the production and trafficking of drugs as defined in the relevant international treaties.
Although it needs to be noted that work by child artists, family duties, supervised training is not child labour.

Nations can help to the reduction of children labourers through:

  • free, cumpolsury educational systems,
  • effective laws that prohibit such activities,
  • information on the gender, age and ethnicity of the children in order for governments to understand what made them vulnerable in the first place and to devise effective responses,
  • increasing the proportion of assistance by nations they allocate to basic social services and by supporting debt forgiveness.
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