Written Answers. - Child Labour.

Ray Burke

Question:

114 Mr. R. Burke asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs if he will ensure that the EU will put in place proposals to eliminate the world-wide scourge of child labour. [16706/96]

The European Union has taken an active role in international fora in efforts to eliminate child labour and has supported efforts to give greater prominence to this issue. A number of proposals have emerged in these fora to address the problem of child labour. In particular, the International Labour Organisation — ILO — has an international programme for the elimination of child labour in place which the EU has actively supported. At an ILO conference in June 1996, the Government delegations of 13 member states of the EU, including Ireland, co-sponsored a resolution concerning the elimination of child labour. This resolution welcomed the increased role of the ILO in the fight against child labour and the increased level of technical co-operation programmes being undertaken by the ILO.

The EU sponsored an omnibus resolution on the Rights of the Child adopted at the Commission on Human Rights this spring. This resolution which called for the elimination of exploitation of child labour and called upon all governments "to take legislative, administrative, social and educational measures to ensure the protection of children from economic exploitation..." was adopted by consensus on 24 April. The EU has taken a number of measures relevant to this general issue. First, special incentive arrangements under the EU Generalised System of Preferences shall be applied, with effect from 1998, to those countries which abide by ILO Conventions on,inter alia, the minimum age for entry into employment. Second, all new EU agreements with third countries contain provisions committing both sides to respect of democratic principles and fundamental human rights as set out in the universal Declaration on Human Rights and containing measures, up to and including the suspension of the agreement, if such provisions are violated. Third, the EU-US Joint Action Plan, signed in Madrid on 3 December 1995, commits both sides to work together “in the WTO and other fora with a view to dissipating various misunderstandings and preoccupations of trading partners regarding the relationship between trade and internationally recognised labour standards”.