Third World Resistance in International Human Rights Law: Working Children’s Movements, the ILO, and the Global Child Labour Regime
SÉMINAIRE DES DOCTORANTS DE DROIT
PERIPHERIES OF LAW
Edward van Daalen is a PhD Researcher in Law at the Centre for Children’s Rights Studies of the University of Geneva, and currently a Visiting Researcher at the Sciences Po Law School. In his research and publications he explores the relationship between law and resistance.
In November 2017, the international community came together in Argentina to adopt the ‘Buenos Aires Declaration’, in which it agreed to eradicate all forms of child labour by 2025. Together with the ILO Conventions, such declarations constitute the backbone of the global regime on child labour. However, while inside of the conference venue the Declaration was signed and celebrated, outside a group of working children demonstrated against their exclusion from the event. These children are members of so-called working children's movements that exist in Latin America, Sub-Saharan Africa and India. Instead of the eradication of their work, they advocate for better working conditions and some even claim the right to work in dignity. This was certainly not the first time these movements tried to influence international law and policy making concerning them. In fact, they have been structurally doing so over the last 35 years. So where does this resistance come from? How to make sense of it? And what role has it played in the extension of the global child labour regime? Based on primary and secondary data, this research introduces a broader and thicker narrative of the continuous socio-legal development of said regime than the one currently presented by the ILO. In line with critical scholars that highlight the importance of third world resistance in international law, this study contends that, though marginalised, the working children’s movements have played an instrumental but paradoxical role in the shaping of the international legal framework on child labour. Furthermore, their story provides important insights into the relationship between international law and resistance.
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