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University of Iowa News Release

June 24, 2003

UICHR Hosts Colloquium On Child Labor Issues

Nearly two dozen international human rights experts will participate in a research colloquium "Using the Human Rights Framework to Combat Abusive and Exploitative Child Labor" sponsored by the University of Iowa Center for Human Rights July 8 to 10. The colloquium is a part of the Child Labor Research Initiative, a project funded by a U.S. Department of Labor grant. All sessions are free and open to the public and will take place in Room W401 Pappajohn Business Building.

International child labor has in recent years gained unprecedented prominence in the international policy- and decision-making arenas. The magnitude of the issue of abusive and exploitative child labor requires responsible attention from all sectors of society. The International Labor Organization estimated in 2000 that approximately 246 million children, ages 5 to 17, are engaged in child labor worldwide. About 171 million children engage in work that is considered to be hazardous and detrimental to their physical development.

The UICHR is holding the colloquium to shed light on the advantages and disadvantages of using the human rights framework to address the global issue of child labor. The colloquium will be organized around expert discussants and panelists who will examine connections between human rights and abusive and exploitative child labor, the pros and cons of a rights-based approach to abusive and exploitative child labor, and strategies for pursuing a rights-based approach.

"Addressing abusive and exploitative child labor from a human rights perspective goes to the very heart of what it means to think and act upon economic, social, and cultural rights generally," said Burns Weston, UICHR director and emeritus professor of law. "Few issues are as important as this one in this age of rapid economic globalization."

The UICHR, under Weston's leadership, has put together an impressive team of human rights, child labor and labor rights specialists who will come to the UI from Brazil, Canada, The Netherlands, Philippines, State Union of Serbia & Montenegro, Tanzania, Thailand and Zimbabwe.

Weston said the UICHR is committed to public engagement in its activities and encourages participation of UI faculty, staff and students as well as members of the Iowa City and surrounding Iowa communities (including trade union and business representatives and especially secondary school-teachers who currently are working with the UICHR to develop pre-college course modules on issues of abusive and exploitative child labor).

Funding support for the colloquium is provided by the U.S. Department of Labor and UI International Programs.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

CONTACTS: Media: Mary Geraghty Kenyon, 319-384-0011, mary-kenyon@uiowa.edu Program: UI Center for Human Rights, 319-335-3900. Writer: Tiisetso Russell.