Keynote: Child Labour in the Global South: The Failures and Flaws of Global Regulation

Professor Jean Grugel - The Open University, UK - The global regime on child labor rests on the proclamation of a very particular model of childhood, associated mainly with Western ideals, including a view that children should be protected from having to earn income until at least the ages of 14-16. International organizations, including UNICEF, the ILO and the EU, hold strong positions about the importance of taking children out of the work place and, particularly, protecting them from exploitative and dangerous work.   The ILO has pushed the ‘decent work’ agenda onto the 2015 Sustainable Development Goals, which now include targets such as promoting decent work for youth and ending child labor in all its forms, as well as formalizing the informal economy and protecting migrant workers, which will also impact on how and whether young people work. But the global drive to regulate how and whether children and young people work faces a number of significant challenges. I dwell here in particular on first, what the changing structures of global power mean for the global child labor regime second, on the flaws in how labor and work are conceptualized within it and thirdly on the confusion within civil society about whether to work with it, or to challenge it as inappropriate.

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