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Child Labor and Human Rights: Making Children Matter

Burns H. Weston, editor
Child Labor and Human Rights: Making Children Matter
ISBN: 978-1-58826-349-0
ISBN: 978-1-62637-612-0
2005/568 pages/LC: 2005011011
"A great read and a fresh perspective! This book not only covers the historical and practical realities of working children, but also offers strong theoretical frameworks for discussing the most difficult issues—and most important, gives guidance on what should be done next."—Martha Nelems, Former Senior Policy Analyst, Children's Rights, CIDA

 “An important contribution.... The book’s strength rests in its comprehensive multidimensional approach, and in particular its inclusion of theoretical, pragmatic, and empirical scholarship, to make sense of the multifaceted issue of child labor.” —Clair Apodaca, H-Net Reviews


The International Labour Organization estimated in 2000 that, of the approximately 246 million children engaged in labor worldwide, 171 million were working in situations harmful to their development. Child Labor and Human Rights provides a comprehensive overview of the phenomenon of child labor from a human rights perspective.

The authors consider the connections between human rights and abusive child labor, the pros and cons of a rights-based approach to the problem, and specific strategies for effecting change. They make an indispensable contribution to the growing effort to abolish abusive and exploitive child labor practices.


Burns H. Weston, now deceased, was Bessie Dutton Murray Distinguished Professor of Law Emeritus at the University of Iowa and senior scholar at the university's Center for Human Rights. His numerous books in the field of human rights included Human Rights in the World Community: Issues and Action and The Future of International Human Rights; he was also coeditor of the award-winning International Law and World Order: A Problem-Oriented Coursebook.


  • Introduction—B.H. Weston.
  • Rethinking Child Labor: A Multidimensional Human Rights Problem —B.H. Weston and M.B. Teerink.
  • Defining Child Labor as if Human Rights Really Matter—J. Ennew, W.E. Myers, and D.P. Plateau.
  • Child Labor and the Rights of Children—H. Cunningham and S. Stromquist.
  • Child Labor Standards: From Treaties to Labels—H. Cullen.
  • Translating Standards into Practice: Confronting Transnational Barriers —S.L. Bachman.
  • Translating Standards into Practice: Confronting Local Barriers—M.F.C. Bourdillon.
  • Combating Child Labor in Tanzania: A Beginning—D. Mmari.
  • Combating Child Labor in the Philippines: Listening to Children—V.V. Rialp.
  • Combating Child Labor in Brazil: Social Movements in Action—B. Rodrigues dos Santos.
  • Abolishing Child Labor: A Multifaceted Human Rights Solution—B.H. Weston and M.B. Teerink.
  • Conceiving Child Labor in Human Rights Terms: Can It Mobilize Progressive Change?—D.M. Post.
  • Working Children as Change Makers: Perspectives from the South—V.P. Karunan.
  • Shifting Positions on Child Labor: The Views and Practice of Intergovernmental Organizations—B. White.
  • Nongovernmental Organizations in the Struggle Against Child Labor—L.S. Wiseberg.
  • Earning and Learning: Tensions and Compatibility—S.L. Bissell.
  • Trade-Based Strategies to Combat Child Labor—F.J. Garcia and S. Jun.
  • Bringing Human Rights to Child Labor: Guiding Principles and a Call to Action—B.H. Weston.