"FOR WORK IN DIGNITY AND LEGISLATION THAT PROTECTS US AND RECOGNISES US"
After the conclusion of the V Latin American Meeting of NATs and the I. MINI World Summit of Working Children and Youth, we address the following statement to the international public:
We fight against a culture of death that denies us our rights and our integration into society. We see ourselves as producers of life.
Failure to recognise this means that we will become even more marginalised than before. To speak of civil rights at the same time is a mockery.
According to statistics from international institutions (such as UNICEF, ILO, etc.), there are 250 million working children in the world. However, these data do not take into account the many children who work in foreign households, street vendors, or children who work at home, in mines, factories, camps, libraries, etc., but whom we call and recognise as workers.
Once those who work in these institutions left their offices to go to where we work, they would become aware of the reality that we know and experience and they would have a different view than that of the need to abolish child labour.
The representatives of the movements and organisations of working children from Africa, Latin America and Asia have come together for their I. Mini World Summit to look at and discuss the problems of working children around the world.
We have decided to participate in international conferences to put our right to freedom of expression into practice. We also demand the right to speak and to vote, as it is there that issues are discussed and decisions taken that affect us. That is why we need to play a leading role there.
So far, they have listened to us, but they have not taken our opinion into account. We have been given the right to organise, but our organisations have not yet been legally recognised.
Work respects human beings, therefore we demand the right to work in dignified conditions and to be recognised as persons who contribute to society, both economically and socially and culturally.
We believe that what must be abolished are the causes of poverty and poverty itself, as well as foreign debt, sanctions imposed by the rich on poor countries, unemployment, corruption... .
We, as organised workers, will fight for better working and living conditions at the same time; we will fight for our rights: for decent and free education, for health services, for opportunities to gather and to take joint action. This will ultimately enable us to be protagonists of our lives and social subjects of our society.
We call for legal recognition of the NAT movements and the working children themselves as workers, on local, regional, national, continental and international level. This means that we must be able to sign employment contracts, open bank accounts, establish cooperatives and be socially protected.
We call for the establishment of committees to monitor the observance of our rights around the world, with full voting rights for organised working children. We therefore call for our equal participation in the 1998 ILO Assembly and in all international conferences where laws and social policies affecting working children are negotiated, under the terms of our Ten-Point Catalogue of Kundapur, India.
Representatives of the following movements were present:
Latin American Movement of Working Children and Youth (NATs)
West African Movement of Working Children and Youth (EYWs)
Bhima Sangha (India)
Joint declaration of the children and their pedagogical companions following the V. Latin American Meeting and the I. Latin American Meeting Mini World Summit of Working Children, Huampani, Peru, 15 August 1997
The discussions held at the V Meeting of the Working Children of Latin America and the Caribbean, the IV Workshop on "Social Policy and International Legislation on Child Labour" and the I. Mini-World Summit of Working Children from August 6-15, 1997 in Huampaní, Chaclacayo District, Lima, Peru, in support of Working Children (NATs).
that child labour is a reality which involves millions of children and adolescents throughout the world and thus affects the life of every child, every family in social, political and economic terms,
that today there are fierce debates on this subject at institutional, political, professional and social level,
that important experience already exists from social institutions for working children and young people, non-governmental organisations, governmental organisations and intergovernmental organisations active in this field,
that various national, regional, continental and international meetings with working children, educators and professionals have already taken place, of which the following are particularly striking:
1. Latin American and Caribbean meeting of the Working Children's Movement, Lima 19882
. II. Latin American and Caribbean meeting of the Working Children's Movement, Buenos Aires 19903
. III. Latin American and Caribbean meeting of the Working Children's Movement, Guatemala 1992
4th Bouaké Meeting, Ivory Coast 19945
. IV. Latin American and Caribbean Meeting of the Movement of Working Children, Santa Cruz, Bolivia 19956
. Lomé Meeting, Togo 19957
. Bamako Meeting, Mali 19958
. V. Latin American and Caribbean Meeting of the Movement of Working Children, Lima 19979
. I. International Meeting of the Movement of Working Children, Kundapur, India 199610
. Ouagadougou Meeting, Burkina Faso 199611
. I. World Summit of the Movements of Working Children in Huampaní, Lima 11-15 August 1997
that we take this reality into account by asserting respect, recognition and dignity towards all children and young people, considering them as social subjects with full rights who deserve to live together with their families and communities in a world where all men and women have the opportunity to be born, to grow and to develop in justice and peace and in a solidarity that grows through love and contentment,
that States do not pursue social policies which are appropriate to their specific circumstances and which can create prospects for better living and working conditions,
that the existence of a vague legal framework open to multiple interpretations, which does not take into account the declared opinions of the organised working children and young people at the above-mentioned meetings, promotes a policy of prohibition which denies the identity of working children and is directed against the human right to work in dignity, as enshrined in the declarations on human rights and children's rights
Therefore we declare:
1. We claim the right to work for every person regardless of age, with respect for all human rights, with special consideration for conditions as children and adolescents, and with respect for all individual and collective labour rights in all areas of work.
2. We call for the recognition of working children and young people as protagonists and social, economic and legal subjects of society with the right to participate in the formulation of political objectives and legal norms which are relevant to them.
3. We condemn the economic exploitation and abuse to which working children and young people are subjected and demand the right to work with dignity and legislation that protects them.
4. we call for an education policy which promotes education and work equally and is aware of this particular social task.
5. We call upon international and multilateral organisations to develop legal instruments that take into account the complex and specific nature of child labour by making a clear distinction between exploitative child labour and other forms of labour that contribute positively to the overall development of children.
6. We call on governmental, international and multilateral institutions to adopt realistic policies and to use international legal remedies to eliminate all forms of illicit and criminal activities which violate human rights and should not be confused with our concept of child labour, such as slavery, servitude, sexual exploitation, pornography, seduction and drug trafficking.
7. we call for recognition and respect for the right of opinion and assembly enshrined in the International Convention on the Rights of the Child, and thus for due legal recognition of organisations of working children and young people
8. We propose the adoption of an optional protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, with the following key elements:
(a) the recognition of the right to work as a human right corresponding to the dignity of the child
(b) the recognition of the age of majority and the overcoming of the common perception that children and young people are underage.
(c) the recognition of their organisations and the granting of a legally recognised status in accordance with the right of assembly under the Convention on the Rights of the Child
(d) the extension of the powers of the International Committee monitoring the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child with regard to reports of child rights violations by movements and organisations of working children and young people, in order to be able to draft feasible resolutions to the relevant legal bodies in the respective countries.
9. we call on the trade unions to allow the reception of organisations of working children and young people.
10. We call upon the International Labour Organisation (ILO), as the United Nations body with a tripartite system (government, employers, workers), to involve the organisations of working children and young people in all debates and decisions affecting them.
11. Based on our experience in practical educational work with working children and young people and their everyday experience, we present the following socio-political guidelines at four different levels of action: organisation, education and leisure, health and work.
We educators and the institutions we represent here make the statements of the working children and young people our own:
YES to work in Dignity,
NO to exploitation!
YES to work under PROTECTION,
NO to bad treatment and abuse!
YES to RECOGNISE WORK,
NO to exclusion and marginalisation!
YES to work under HUMAN CONDITIONS,
NO on unworthy conditions!
YES to the right to work in freedom,
NO to forced labour!