Statement by the SRSG on Violence against Children on the Adoption of ILO Convention on Domestic Workers

New York, 22 June 2011 - The Special Representative of the Secretary General on Violence against Children warmly welcomes the adoption by the annual Conference of the International Labour Organization (ILO) of a new international convention which will contribute to improving the working conditions of domestic workers worldwide, and which will protect children from falling victim to child domestic labour.

Child domestic labour has long been recognized as a form of child exploitation where children are particularly vulnerable to violence and sexual abuse. Even children working legitimately in domestic service – when they are old enough to do so – are at risk, due the secluded nature of the settings in which domestic work takes place. Working in private households, often away from their own home with little or no protection or social support, children are exposed to excessive working hours, hazardous tasks, social stigma and discrimination, and physical and emotional violence, as well as sexual abuse. Girls are especially vulnerable to violence.

Freedom from violence is a key component of the struggle to end child labour. The new ILO Convention and accompanying Recommendation are critical instruments that will help to eliminate violence from the daily lives of millions of children trapped in domestic work. In recognizing the elimination of all forms of forced or compulsory labour and the effective abolition of child labour as underlying principles for its implementation, the Convention joins a strong normative framework for the protection of children’s rights, together with the Minimum Age Convention No. 138, the Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention No. 182, as well as the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and its two Protocols. Indeed, the express reference in the new Convention to the ILO’s  two child labour Conventions, the clear requirement to impose a minimum working age for domestic service, and the recognition of the importance of free, universal and compulsory education firmly add this new instrument to the arsenal of international standards for protecting children from all forms of violence.

The Special Representative wholeheartedly encourages Governments to bring the new Convention and Recommendation on Domestic Workers to the attention of the competent national authorities to consider its speedy ratification and entry into force.