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Analyze the ability of an international organization (international labour organization) to solve an international problem and to propose solutions, based in international law, to improve the organization’s ability to address Child Labour.

: Good explanation of general application of these objectives.

In your paper, detail how these apply to children since they do not expressly mention children.

Case of Mehta v TN: did the Court mention any provisions or instruments of the ILO? Which principles of the CRC were mentioned? You should know whether India has ratified both. Paraphrase the Court’s ruling in relation to international instruments and principles.

Any other (more recent) case law on child labour?

Give specific details in your paper. ILO has to focus more on root cases of poverty – detail how, again, analyze the legal basis for this. 

Structure and Functions of ILO

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) was established on 29th of October of the year 1919. The specialised agency of the United Nations is dedicated towards the improvement of the conditions and the living standards, by laying down the labour standards, developing the policies, and devising various programmes. All the policies and programmes combined are intended towards the promoting of the decent work conditions among men and women. Thus, the organisation brings together various regulators and stakeholders of the 187 member states, such as the government, workers and employers and more.

The ILO defines the term “working conditions” as the paramount essential for the work on the paid basis and the employer and employee relationships. One’s working environment is impacted by a range of factors such as physical conditions, health, safety, working hours and security. A poor working environment can put the health and safety of the employees and workers at risk. Therefore it is the responsibility of the employers to secure a healthy working environment for the labours and employees of the entity. The employed are legally liable and covered under the provisions of the basic healthy working conditions.

The following work is focussed towards analysing the various facets of the International Labour Organisation, such as its structure, its functions, its ability to solve an international problems and propose a solution, and more. In addition, the work will shed light on the case law of “M.C. Mehta vs State Of Tamil Nadu And Ors 1991 AIR 417, 1990 SCR Supl. (2) 518,” and the mentioning of the provisions of the ILO in the above stated case law, if any applicable and stated.

The International Labour Organisation was the recipient of the Noble Peace Prize in the year 1969, for the extension of decent work and allowance of justice objectives for the workers, provision of technical assistance to the developing nations and thus improving the overall peace among the nations. This is the only United Nations agency that has a tri partite framework and works together with the Government, employer and the representatives of the workers. Thus, the tri partite structure allows for taking into considerations point of view of various stakeholders, thereby allowing the debate and elaboration before the formulation of the labour standards or the policies.

The main bodies which carry out the work of the ILO are the International Labour Conference, the Governing Body, and the International Labour Office. The International Labour Conference is assigned with the task of formulation and setting of the labour standards and the policies at the broader stage for the ILO. The conference operates on the basis of the discussions of the significant social and labour issues and proposed solutions. The Governing body of the ILO is also regarded as the executive council of the organisation. The body is entitled with the task of deciding on the ILO policies’ and thereby the establishment of the overall management programme and the budget. These are further proposed to the conference for the final adoption of the same. Lastly, the International Labour Office carries out the overall activities of the organisation. The Governing Body and the Labour Office together work with industry experts on the subject matters like occupational safety and health, vocational training, workers’ education, industrial relations and specific problems of the young and the women workers.

Child Labour and International Labour Organization

The term “Child Labour” refers to the acts of employment of children in work, resulting into deprivation of their childhood, potential as well as the dignity, further leading to harm in the physical and the mental development of children. Thus, it refers to any work that interferes with a children’s ability to attend school, play or enjoy his or her childhood. The activities can be of various forms resulting into mentally, physically, morally, economically ill impacts on the healthy development of children. The causes of the child labour may range from poverty in a nation, educational practices, traditional and cultural norms, demand of labour in the market, compensation constraints, or the inadequate and poor implementation of the legislations. The resulting repercussions are in the form of prevention of children from the access to education and healthy life, exposing them to violence, harassment and cycles of poverty passing from one generation to another. In addition, it is significant to mote that these children are engaged in occupations such as working in the mines, dangerous machinery, chemicals and pesticides, as home servants or aid at workshops, plantations and other such hazardous working conditions. Another major facet to the child labour is the engagement of the children in the acts of sexual exploitation, illicit activities such as pornography, prostitution, slavery and drug trade. These are the worst forms of the child labour and leave a significant negative impact on the mental and physical abilities of a children.

The four main objectives of ILO are stated as follows. Firstly, to formulate and lay down the basic standards and principles for the rights at work. Secondly, to inculcate opportunities on a constant basis to maintain the decent employment level and income for both men and women. Thirdly, to extend the effectiveness and coverage of the social protection for everyone. Lastly, to strengthen the tri partite mechanism of the organisation. Thus, the objectives does not expressly mention of the applicability of the same upon the children.

According to an estimate made by the International Labour Organisation, the engagement in the child labour of the children belonging the age group of 5 years to 17 years old is about 168 millions in numbers. In response to the severe issue of child labour, the International Labour Organisation established the International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC) in the year 1992. This is an important move in terms of carrying out the chief objectives of the ILO, in absence of the express mention of the applicability of the objectives specifically on the “children.”

The main objectives of the International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour have been stated and explained as follows. The overall mission is to strengthen the capacity of the various countries to deal with the issue of the child labour, leading to the overall goal of the elimination of the child labour.

The effectiveness of the organisation and its mission in terms of the international level are quite evident with the fact that the programme is currently been operated in about 88 countries. In addition, it is significant to note that the annual expenditure on the cooperation programmes in the year 2008 was around US$61 million. Thus, the programme is a largest programme on the global level, fighting the issue of the child labour. Over the years, the participants of the programme have included a number and kinds of the stakeholders such as international and government agencies, the judiciary of various regions, employers’ and workers’ organizations, community-based organizations, universities, media and of course the children and the families. Thus, the programme is aimed at covering the all possible issues concerning the health and security of the children and ensuring them safe childhood. Thus, it must be noted that the IPEC functions that are on the lines of eliminating the child labour are part of the Decent Work Agenda of the International Labour Organisation.

Impact of ILO's objectives

One of the significant conventions of the organisation that deal with the issue of child labour are ILO Minimum Age Convention No. 138 (1973), which has been ratified by the 161 states in total, while there were 183 members. The convention states the minimum age of employment with the intention to abolish the child labour. The provision of the convention states that all the ratifying states must take measures to eliminate the worst kind of child labour in their regions. The convention further requires the states to act for the prevention and elimination of various kinds of child labour and slavery practices. These are child prostitution, children trafficking and use of children for illicit activities. Further, the ratifying states are required to extend the necessary financial and other assistance in terms of the social integration and rehabilitation for the victims and their families of the child labour.

For instance, the country is one among the other to ratify the convention of ILO in June 2016. Canada has ratified the Minimum age convention and has thus set the employment age to be minimum at 15 years in Canada with effect from June 2017 . The NGOs of the country played a significant role in terms of the ratification adoption.

However, there has been arising instances of conflicts of the policies stated in the convention and the various national laws within the territory or the region. The significant issue with the international laws is to whether to comply the already enacted national laws or the newly adopted international laws. In addition, sometimes the lack of the guidance in terms of the proper adoption makes it difficult for the effective implementation of a policy at international level.

The subjective case is one of the significant cases in the history of child labour in India. The case is also important, as while giving the decision of the same, the Supreme Court of the nation has considered the provisions of international labour law in conjunction with the domestic ones. Moving towards the discussion of the case, this is to mention that a Public interest litigation has been filed by one of the activist lawyer seeking the attention of the courts towards the problem of child labour in the state of Tamil Nadu of India. The litigation has been filed a cause of the breach of certain provisions of the Article 24 of the constitution of India, according to which any child below the age of 14 years cannot be employed as a labour in a factory or in an organization that consist and carries hazardous activities.

In the decision of the case, the Supreme Court mentioned the instruments of the International Labour Origination and Convention on the Rights of the Child (hereinafter referred as CRC) that makes this case even more important. While talking about the principles of CRC, the court stated that India has ratified this convention which not only affirms the protection of children from the evil of child labour but also demands a continuous efforts of the member state to improve the condition of children all over the world. Court has specifically mentioned the article 32 of CRC. According to article 32 of the CRC:-

  • Every member state recognizes the right of children to be protected from performing any activity that is hazardous in respect to their education, mental, spiritual, social, physical or moral development in addition to the economic exploitation.
  • To ensure the implication of this article, every member state shall take social, educational, administrative, and legislative measures. Further, in relation to other international instrument related to child labour, the member states will:-
  1. Provide the minimum age of employment
  2. Provide the regulation with respect to hours and other conditions of employment.
  3. Provide appropriate penalties and other sanctions in order to ensure the enforcement of this article.

These are the CRC principle that the Supreme Court of the country has stated while granting the decision of the case. In conjunction with this, the court mentioned that the International Labour Organization has adopted eighteen conventions and sixteen recommendations on the topic of interest of children. Many of the international commitments have been made by India in the sector of prevention of child labour. Indian Government has deposited it is an instrument of accession with the United Nation’s Secretary-general. The instrument consists the declaration that, in the developing country certain rights of the children can only be progressively implemented considering the economic and social situations of that country. For several reasons children do work in the India and country recognize the right of a child to be protected from exploitation and the same is having minimum age standard for the hazardous occupation and further Indian government takes all the necessary measures to ensure to comply with the provisions of article 32.

It may be stated that the International labour organization has played and contentiously playing a crucial role in the process of eliminating the issue of child labour world wild. The focus has been made on the following five issues mainly:-

  • Prevention of child labour
  • Elimination of the lead cause of child labour
  • Helping children in adopting future work
  • Protection of child workers at the workplace
  • Protection of the children of working parents

Therefore, to conclude that in the decision of this case, the Supreme Court of the nation has highlighted the provisions of International labour law including the principles of CRC.

Another recent case study has been taken form the country of Pakistan. The country has a significant issue of the child labour. It is significant to state that in the region of Sialkot, the problem of the child labour is at its peak. In addition, the basic structure and framework for international policy implementation is missing in the region. Thus, the issue is even more serious because of the above reason. Thus, it is important to note that the absence of the logical base for the international laws, makes the implementation of such international conventions and policies even more complex and tough. Thus, it can be stated that the measures for the practical enforcement of the international legislations like International Labour Organisation are still missing from the countries like Pakistan . Hence, the laws like above need national support to be effectively implemented.


Thus, as per the discussions conducted in the previous parts, it can be concluded that the child labour is one of the major concerns of our society. In order to combat the issue, national and international measures are been taken by the various nations. The work explored the data and statistics of the child labour, together with the meaning and gravity of the situation. The work exposed  the various kinds of the child labour activities that take place. These activities range from modern slavery to working in the house as household aids, to even using the children in the serious crimes such as the pornography industry and the drug sector.

The work further shed light on the aims, objectives, convention, and purpose of the International Labour Organization. The ILO is one of the major organisations at the international level apart from UNICEF that has been working towards the prevention and security of the children against the issue of the child labour, in the forms of the enactment of the employment laws and specifying the working conditions. The chief objectives of the ILO do not expressly mention of the applicability of the same on the children. However, the extended programme of the ILO, i.e. the International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC) is working specifically towards the elimination of child labour and specifying the root causes to be poverty. Further the various conventions of the ILO, have to be adopted by the member states. These are laid down as a support to the objectives of the ILO. The member states are required to ratify these conventions in their regions. Further, it is significant to note that the ratification and implementation of these international laws and international policies are possible only when there is adequate policy infrastructure and framework within a country.

The work also explored one of landmark judgements of M.C. Mehta vs. State Of Tamil Nadu And Ors, in the year 1991 of India. It has been proved to be a significant case law in terms of the policy implementation of the ILO. The honourable Supreme Court of India took into consideration the instruments of the International Labour Origination and Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), while pronouncing the decision in the case. The work concludes with the case study of Pakistan where the child labour laws are still not stringent and adequate. The case study is taken to demonstrate that mere enactment of the international laws is not enough, they must be implemented in conjunction with the existing national laws to achieve the desired and the best results in a region.

M.C. Mehta vs State Of Tamil Nadu And Ors 1991 AIR 417, 1990 SCR Supl. (2) 518

Bajpai, A, Child Rights in India: Law, Policy, and Practice (Oxford University Press 2018)

Disha Experts, INDIA Handbook 2018 for Competitive Exams - Schemes, Yojanas, Policies, Bill & Acts, Amendments, Judgements, Summits, Organisations, Tribunals, Committees (Disha Publications 2017)

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Child labour in agriculture in Lebanon: A guide for practitioners (Food & Agriculture Org 2018)

International Labour Office, Information Document on Ratifications and Standards-related Activities (as to 31 December 2009): Third Item on the Agenda: Information and Reports on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations (International Labour Organization 2010), ‘International Program on Elimination of Child Labour’ <> accessed 07 December  2018, ‘M.C. Mehta v. State of tamil nadu’ (, 2018) <> accessed 07 December  2018

Hansaria, ‘M.C. Mehta vs State Of Tamil Nadu And Others on 10 December, 1996’ (, 2018) <> accessed  07 December  2018, ‘Guidance Note 2 Labor and Working Conditions’ <> accessed 07 December  2018, ‘ILO between the two world wars 1919’ <> accessed 07 December  2018, ‘What is the ILC?’ <> accessed 07 December 2018, ‘Children’s Rights: International Laws’ <> accessed 07 December 2018, ‘Mc Mehta Vs State Of Tamil Nadu – 1996’ (, 2012) <> accessed 07 December  2018, ‘The Nobel Peace Prize 1969’ <> accessed 07 December  2018

Raja Cholan, ‘International program on Elimination of Child labour (IPEC)’ (, 26 July 2017) <> accessed 07 December  2018, ‘Child labour, or child labor, refers to the employment of children at regular and sustained labour. This practice is considered exploitative by many international’ <>  accessed 07 December  2018

Unicef Canada. (2016). Ten things you didn’t know about child labour. < > accessed 07 December  2018, ‘International Labour Organization (ILO)’ <> accessed 07 December  2018

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