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April 24, 2024

The Surge In Child Labor: Conventions, Laws, and Challenges

The recent rise of children at work is due to the increase in inflation and the cost of living, and in the United States, the lessening of state protective laws and the use of migrant children. The International Labour Organization indicates there are 160 million children engaged in child labor, working in jobs that deprive them of their childhood, and harm their mental and physical development. Some of the worst forms of work involve sexual exploitation.

The BBC reported a mother forced to put her daughter into sex work to help support the family and survive living costs. In the United States at least 14 states have rolled back child protection laws and the NY Times reported that migrant children are employed in brutal work all across the U.S.

Despite the International Labor Organization’s prohibitive child labor laws, the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the U.S. Department of Labor’s laws, these practices persist. Our expert panelists propose possible solutions.

The content of this program does not meet requirements for continuing legal education (CLE) accreditation. You will not receive CLE credit for watching.


  •  Zama Neff – Executive Director, Children’s Rights Division, Human Rights Watch
  •  Benjamin Smith – Senior Officer on Child Labor, International Labour Organization
  • Jessica Leinwand – Chief Legal Officer and General Counsel, UNICEF USA


Co-Sponsor: ABA International Law Section’s Women's Interest Network (WIN)


Child Labor | Human Rights Watch

New Bill Would Protect Child Farmworkers in the US | Human Rights Watch

Alone and Exploited, Migrant Children Work Brutal Jobs Across the U.S. | The New York Times

Children’s Rights and Business Principles | UNICEF

Profits and Poverty: The Economics of Forced Labour | International Labour Organization

H.R.4046 - Children's Act for Responsible Employment (CARE) Act of 2023

Convention on the Rights of the Child | United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

Wages and the Fair Labor Standards Act | U.S. Department of Labor

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