Among 218 million children aging from 5 to 17 in employment, 152 million are victims of this worldwide problem. Of those children, almost half of them, 73 million, work in hazardous conditions in agriculture, mining, domestic labor, and other sectors. Additionally, half of those 152 victims range from ages 5 to 11 years old. With 72.1 million victims in Africa, 62.
1 million in Asia and the Pacific, 10.7 in the Americas, 1.2 million in Arab states, and 5.5 million in Europe and Central Asia, these children’s lives are being robbed from them. This can no longer be looked as a worldwide problem, but rather as a human rights violation; something we, the United Nations, must take action to resolve. Child labor leads to severe ramifications; it takes the life aspect of a child’s life away. Evidently, children are the next the generation of the world, and without them, we, as an international team, cannot progress. There would not be any countries, UN, electronics, love, family, or even life if our future generations cannot live to become elders.
Ultimately, we must consider child labor as our top priority of the UN Human Rights Council. I believe that in order to take action against an atrocious practice, we must understand how the victims’ lives are affected by child labor, but also how the work environment affects them. While students in school can learn how tobacco is bad and negatively ruins your life, part of the 218 million child labor victims can be working at the tobacco farms. Not only is work a bad influence on them, but these children must work long hours under vicious conditions including extreme heat while being exposed to nicotine and toxic pesticides.
In contrast, in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, child laborers may work in gold mines underground and use toxic mercury to process gold. Above all, this means these children are at risk of brain damage and other serious health conditions, forbidding them from a normal lifestyle of good health, safety, and education. Our Universal Declaration of Human Rights states in the preamble that “human rights should be protected by the law.” Child labor, however, is a violation of these human rights that “should be protected by the law.” Therefore, the UN must be aggressive against these crimes. We cannot handle this subject lightly while not only are the children affected, but our future as a species is at risk. One thing I was truly amazed by while expanding my knowledge about this topic was how multiple countries in this Human Rights Council are guilty of this violation. Specifically, I found a Daily Mail article regarding child labor which pertains to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
In the Daily Mail Article “Child Miners Aged Four Living a Hell on Earth so YOU can Drive an Electric Car: Awful Human Cost in Squalid Congo Cobalt Mine that Michael Grove Didn’t Consider in his ‘Clean’ Energy Crusade,” readers follow the life a young boy named Dorsen along with his friends. While he and an army of young children, some just four years old, work through the polluted mines for a small wage, red dust burns their eyes and their roads for skin diseases and deadly lung conditions become more clear. At these DRC mines, children are demanded to “check the rocks for the tell-tale chocolate-brown streaks of cobalt,” the prized ingredients essential to power electrical cars’ batteries and other electronics’ batteries 3.
Although this creates a cleaner, free of pollution community for the future, the terrible price child laborers pay is ruined health and early death. Health hazards are so prevalent in this region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo that even a respiratory disease was named after it: cobalt lung- a form of pneumonia that leads to death. In fact, the UN’s International Labour Organization described DRC’s cobalt mining as “one of the worst forms of child labor” because of the many health risks pertained to it 3. Ultimately, “there is no such happy ending for the tens of thousands of children left in the hell on earth that is the cobalt mines of the Congo,” as the Jones concludes her Daily Mail article.
Saying I was astonished by the article’s context would be an understatement that accurately describes how I felt after reading the article. Most importantly, I couldn’t believe how the Democratic Republic of the Congo could sit in this council as if they have not violated any rights when in fact they have violated multiple human rights including human rights. I believe announcing and supporting the need to end child labor is one thing, but actually taking action is what matters the most, especially in these cases. How long can we, as the UN, sit beside the DRC while they violate these human rights? We must take action against the Democratic Republic of the Congo despite their approval to or not. As I previously mentioned, the fate of our future lies in the hands of the child laborers as they are the next generation. I am disgusted by their practices of child labor as well as each country’s limited actions toward stopping child labor. When it comes down to this, how many children have to die in order to stir up some action? I am assuming the 80 estimated deaths per year, as well as the many that go unregistered, is enough.
Our next generation is at risk, and sitting here without emotion is exactly like setting up a loved one for failure. The preamble of the Universal Declaration of Human rights further states, “a common understanding of these rights and freedoms is of the greatest importance.” Ultimately, we, the United Nations, cannot stand by this misjudgment. Accepting the truth is an important skill to obtain; however, I can accept the sad truth that there are many other countries also guilty of child labor. This includes Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Nigeria who all are guilty of the same Human Rights Violations of child labor. Specifically, in Afghanistan the use of child laborers is prevalent.
Because many of the families are in poverty, this drives children to child labor all beginning at very young ages in order to support their families. Although many of them want to attend school and learn, work induces them to quit school. Their work varies between home-based carpet industries to the metal industry, or from agriculture to work on the streets as vendors. Nonetheless, each child laborer is suffering through hazardous work environments and result in injuries, illness, health risks, and even death 4. Specifically, even something so simple making a carpet can lead to lower back and eye problems after sitting in the same position for nearly 12 hours. Above all, because these children are given no other choice besides learning to “bear all the pain to do all the work” since work is their new life. Ultimately, Afghanistan is guilty of this Human Rights Violation of child labor along with the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Moving forward, Pakistan is another country guilty of child labor.
As of 2016, 12.5 million children in Pakistan are involved in child labor. While Pakistan is making an effort to end child labor, Dawn news states, “Denying children their fundamental right to be educated between the ages of five to sixteen exposes them to health hazards, hampers their development and puts them at risk to other forms of violence” 5.
Therefore, Pakistani are still at risk despite the government’s announcements of reducing child labor, and still a country guilty of this Human Rights Violation. Lastly, Nigeria is my final example of a country that violates human rights. In this case, major causes of child labor could be because of widespread poverty, rapid urbanization, lack of protection, or high school dropout rates. Additionally, it is mandatory, today, for these children to work on their own for their family’s survival since their family members are relying on their incomes. In correspondence to the aforementioned ramifications, Nigerian child laborers suffer from fatigue, lack of education and attendance at school, exposure to the risk of sexual abuse, and a higher chance of being involved in crime 6. Ultimately, this proves how Nigeria is another country guilty of this Human Rights Violation called child labor. Upon reflection of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Nigeria it is evident that child labor negatively harms children’s’ lives. Not only do they permanently change their lifestyles, but their health is also at risk.
No matter the situations, these countries should not be apart of the Human Rights Council as long as they continue to practice child labor, a violation to human rights. The United Nations Declaration of Human Rights includes a series of articles similar to a set of rules that each country of the Human Rights Council has agreed to follow. Despite knowing the set rules, countries who have child labor directly violate multiple articles of the Declaration. Specifically, article 24 proclaims, “Everyone has the right to rest and leisure, including reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay”; nevertheless, all child laborers have no right to rest and leisure. Instead, they are forced to work long hours in pain to support the families and loved ones. In fact, the article 24 is the complete opposite of what is actually happening in the communities with child laborers. Despite violating the article, children, under any circumstances, should live a happy, stress-free life where they can learn and mature into adults.
However, with long hours of work for pay, when given the option between work and pay, children are obligated to choosing work, a non-leisure activity. Furthermore, child labor also violates article 26 regarding the education of how “everyone has the right to education.” Evidently, these victims of child labor have no right to education while they are working during potential school hours. Ultimately, this means the children cannot be “directed to the full development of human personality” as education should be doing which is further described in article 26. Above all, child labor proves, once again, as a problem to society, but now, also, violated articles of the Declaration.
On the other hand, there are many things, the United Nations can collaboratively do in order to hold these countries accountable for their unforgivable crimes. While harsh punishments may be necessary in order for the countries to learn from their mistakes, that may not be the best approach when wanting to resolve this problem. Instead, the United Nations should politely inform these guilty countries of the crimes they have committed and allow the countries to take responsibility for their mistakes. Potentially, this allows countries to understand their mistakes and take action into their own hands. However, because we have attempted to that method for several methods, I believe that once the countries recognize their faults, the UN must take a bigger role in stopping child labor. Specifically, these countries should also create laws that prohibit child labor and work at such a young age. To further protect children from child labor and health diseases, with the UN’s help, the countries should make education more accessible to the children.
If this means building more schools and spreading the news about education to children impacted by child labor, this is an action that must be made in order for the countries to be held accountable by their mistakes. Lastly, the UN should monitor the countries’ progressions to stopping child labor. Saying that child labor will end by 2020 is one thing, but reaching that goal is a completely different thing; nevertheless, the path to ending child labor will be much closer if the UN holds countries accountable for their violations to human rights. As the United States of America, my country would support aggressive UN action to stop child labor. Although we Americans have used child labor in our history, looking from a present perspective, the United States is completely against child labor. In order to come to that point, the states began “increasing the number of years of schooling required, lengthening the school year, and enforcing truancy laws more effectively” 7. Furthermore, the need for education became very clear that in 1949, the Congress amended the child labor law to update the 1938 Act while outlawing child labor. To this day, the United States is seen as the land of the free where children attend school and adults work.
The lifestyle of American citizens has changed and morphed into the lifestyle we see in our daily lives. Ultimately, the United States would support aggressive action to stop child labor as it is now seen as something that tears children away from evolving into the great humans they can become; child labor strips children away great opportunities in their lives as work now circles their lives. Possible resolutions have been tossed around to resolve the problem of child labor, and I believe now is the time to investigate these possible resolutions. First, I’d like to list 3 possible provisions. One, every country part of the Human Rights Council must enforce laws regarding that education is a must while children age from 5-18.
Evidently, this provision will over the fear of having child labor now that all children are forced to attend some type of education while they are still pre-teens and teenagers. My second provision takes in account of the cost of education and how it can affect families. Specifically, financial aid should be offered to all families that need, making education more of an option. A big percentage of child laborers work because they need to support their families, and working gives them the money needed in order to survive.
However, with this second provision, it makes education more an option as financial aid can cover up the money families are missing, allowing children to attend school, not work. Lastly, the government’s active role in education should include promoting education by explaining the possible opportunities and brighter futures children can have through education. Having an education means being knowledgeable, which can carry out to other higher-paying jobs and better opportunities. This final provision doesn’t restrict children to the low-paying jobs they are now doing as child laborers. Most importantly, I quote, “knowledge has a beginning, but no end.
” In conclusion, child labor is prevalent all around the world as a trouble. Those who are sad victims of child labor suffer through the destruction of their childhoods and futures. They are unable to progress with the knowledge they could have obtained from education and are, thus, forced to continue taking lower-paying jobs. However, it is also clear that child labor not only affects the victims, but also the whole human species. Child labor means the annihilation of our next generation; therefore, we can not continue to evolve as a species. Evidently, child labor has the potential of stopping human life. No matter where you live, you are affected by child labor; the phone you use for entertainment, the cars you drive, and even the computer you are using to read this essay all function because of batteries- batteries created by cobalt dug by child laborers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Above all, the UN must take aggressive action now as child labor is a real problem we are all facing today.
Works Cited”Child Labor.” Human Rights Watch, www.hrw.
org/topic/childrens-rights/child-labor.”ILO.” Child Labour, www.ilo.org/global/topics/child-labour/lang–en/index.htm.Barbara Jones for The Mail on Sunday.
“Child miners aged four living a hell on Earth so YOU can drive an electric car: Awful human cost in squalid Congo cobalt mine that Michael Gove didn’t consider in his ‘clean’ energy crusade.” Daily Mail Online, Associated Newspapers, 6 Aug. 2017, www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4764208/Child-miners-aged-four-living-hell-Earth.html.
“”They Bear All the Pain” | Hazardous Child Labor in Afghanistan.” Human Rights Watch, 12 July 2017, www.hrw.org/report/2016/07/14/they-bear-all-pain/hazardous-child-labor-afghanistan.Reporter, A. “‘12.5 million children in Pakistan are involved in labour’.
” DAWN.COM, 13 June 2016, www.dawn.com/news/1264451.
“The children.” UNICEF Nigeria – The children – Child labour, www.unicef.
“Child Labor.” History.com, A&E Television Networks, 2009, www.history.com/topics/child-labor.