Latin America and the Caribbean

13 June 1996


GENEVA - Five Central American countries signed accords on Thursday with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) aimed at boosting their national programmes on eliminating child labour.

Under the accords the governments of the five -- Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Panama -- pledged to deepen cooperation with labour unions, employers and other organisations in a fight against employment of children.

The ILO said all these groups in the five countries would be able to call on the resources of the International Programme for the Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC) which the United Nations agency set up in 1992.

IPEC aims to achieve the phased elimination of child labour partly by strengthening national capacity to deal with the problem and also by working around the world to raise public awareness of its nature and extent.

IPEC's project coordinator for Latin America Eduardo Araujo said at the signing ceremony that the accords ``reflect the broadening public commitment of an entire region to rid itself of the scourge of child labour.''

Last week, Chile and Bolivia signed similar accords with the ILO. Agreements are expected soon with Colombia, Honduras, Praguay, Peru and Venezuela, the U.N. agency said.

Araujo said that throughout Central America children were working in industries including mining, agriculture and manufacturing that were dangerous for their health.

IPEC's time-frame for the elimination of child labour was around 10 years, but he said the immediate focus ``has to be on getting children out of work in dangerous industries and providing alternatives in terms of education and income support.''

Child labour is a major issue at the current annual conference in Geneva of the ILO. The United States and some Western countries want discussion in the World Trade Organisation of a link to labour conditions in trade accords.


Copyright 1996 Reuters

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