Asunción 2001

Final declaration of the VI Meeting of Working Children and Youth of Latin America and the Caribbean, Asunción, Paraguay, 12 to 18 August 2001

We are a movement of working children and young people (Niños y Niñas Trabajadores/NATs) from Latin America and the Caribbean that has been fighting for 13 years for the defence and fulfilment of our rights, for our recognition as social actors and for our organised self-determination.

All groups, organisations and movements of the NATs from ten countries of Latin America and the Caribbean represented at the VI meeting of the working children and young people of Latin America and the Caribbean from August 12th to 18th in Asunción, Paraguay, give a critical statement from the NATs' point of view on the UN document "Un mundo apropiado para los niños" (A world suitable for children) and especially on the World Summit for Children and the "World Movement for Children". We raise the following questions:

The International Convention on the Rights of the Child recognises that we have a right to association, to participation and to have our views on the issues that concern us taken into account. We are therefore entitled to claim our rights. This document is therefore the voice of the organised NATs of Latin America and the Caribbean.

We, as the Latin American and Caribbean movement of NATs, believe that there is a right to work, based on the assumption that work gives dignity to people, as it is a practical form of learning, a source of education and family income. We are aware of the contribution we make to society as a whole. What we do not agree with are exploitative, marginalising, discriminatory and violent working conditions.

Contrary to the generally prevailing notion that calls prostitution, begging, gang activities, slavery and abuse work, we believe that this is poorly researched. Based on our experience as workers and our cultural context, we say that these are not works, but rather offences.

We fight for the work of the children

  • In dignity and under good conditions
  • Recognised as a right and not an obligation
  • Respected and protected by national laws
  • Not discriminated against and exploited, as carried out by children

Therefore we demand:

  1. The creation of production workshops for working children and young people.
  2. We want neither Convention 138 (minimum age) nor Convention 182 (worst forms of child labour) of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) to be signed or ratified by our governments.
  3. We do not want working children and young people to be persecuted because they work.
  4. To create jobs in good conditions for our parents and us.
  5. We need free qualified training with pedagogically trained teachers, an education that leaves room for participation and protagonism.
  6. We know that the rights of children apply equally to all children. Therefore, we demand that we as NATs are involved in all discussions and agreements about problems that concern us.
  7. We demand that we children and young people be perceived as legal subjects and not as objects, because the right to rights exists equally for every person.

We would like to inform those present at the Summit of the following:

  1. May we be allowed to pursue our work undisturbed.
  2. May we be given the opportunity to be present at all occasions where we are talked about.
  3. The adults should not mistreat and exploit us.
  4. Social programmes should be improved and expanded.
  5. There should be more opportunities for vocational training and better trained personnel.
  6. The failure of governments in our countries to act increases poverty and exploitation.
  7. Let us put ourselves in our position so that we can feel at first hand what we are experiencing.
  8. We call on them to respect children's rights.
  9. May our local authorities and our people recognise our organisation.
  10. May the President give us the space we deserve and recognise our work as a right.
  11. We need support and not to be mistaken for thieves, drug addicts etc.
  12. May our organisation be recognised as an instrument that promotes the protagonism of NATs and improves our living conditions.
  13. Equal rights for all.


We expect

  1. government support,
  2. our recognition as competent persons,
  3. our involvement as active protagonists in agreements,
  4. Consultation of our opinion,
  5. Recognition of our organisation of NATs,
  6. Consultation and respect for our opinion,
  7. our involvement and information when new laws are adopted for the benefit of the population.


We demand

  1. more hospitals,
  2. more financial resources for medical treatment,
  3. calls on governments to invest more in health, to make more resources available,
  4. free health insurance for the NATs,
  5. free distribution of medicines,
  6. good care and no discrimination,
  7. more funds for humanitarian projects,
  8. regular visits to residential areas and better health care.


We demand

  1. good equipment of the schools,
  2. that we are respected,
  3. free basic education,
  4. a good quality school manure,
  5. a technical education (school leaving certificate with a vocational diploma),
  6. free student tickets,
  7. Free lunch for all students,
  8. no extension of lessons,
  9. qualified teaching within the current number of lessons (quality does not equal quantity).

Latin American and Caribbean Movement of Working Children and Youth (MOLACNATs)

Asunción, Paraguay

18 August 2001

Updated: 14.12.2020