Lebanese American University

School of Arts and Sciences

POL 241

Model United Nations- Diplomatic skills

        Background guide

Child Labour in the Arab World

Prepared by: Tarek Ibrahim & Farah El Shoghri

Presented to: Dr. Elie Samia

Date: Friday April 4th  


Description of the Committee

The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) was established under the General Assembly. With its strong presence in 155 countries, UNICEF is the world's leading advocate for children. It has the global authority to influence decision-makers, and the variety of partners at the grassroots level to turn the most innovative ideas into reality.

It believes that nurturing and caring for children are the cornerstones of human progress. UNICEF was created with this purpose in mind, to work with others to overcome the obstacles that poverty, violence, disease and discrimination place in a child's path, and therefore, advocates for measures to give children the best start in life.

UNICEF is a part of the Global Movement for Children. Through this movement, it encourages young people to speak out and participate in the decisions that affect their lives. 

UNICEF upholds the Convention on the Rights of the Child. It works to assure equality for those who are discriminated against, girls and women in particular, and works for the Millennium Development Goals and for the progress promised in the United Nations Charter. It strives for peace and security, and work to hold everyone accountable to the promises made for children.

TOPIC: Child Labour in the Arab World


Children are God's gift that is to be nurtured, well raised and taken care of; this is true when it comes to one's children but what about the 250 million working children around the world, the ten million street children in the Arab World? Who is taking care of them?

In fact, Child labour is a complex social and political issue with a long and evolving history: child labour first became an international issue in the 1860s, but it was not until the 1980s, more than a century later, that a global movement began to take shape. Then, in the second half of the 1990s, the international profile of child labour attained unprecedented levels. And, nowadays, the phenomenon of “child labour” has moved to new dimensions. The work of children has become a global issue and a topic of crucial concern.

Children carry out a very wide range of tasks and activities when they work, and considerable differences exist between the many kinds of work children do. Some are difficult and demanding, others are more hazardous and morally reprehensible. However, not all work done by children should be classified as child labour that is targeted for elimination. Children’s or adolescents' participation in light work that does not affect their health and personal development or interfere with their schooling may be regarded as acceptable. The ILO Minimum Age Convention No. 138 and the worst Forms of Child Labour Convention No. 182 provide essential guidance on these matters. Therefore, the term "child labour" is defined as work that deprives children of their childhood, their potential and their dignity, and is harmful to their physical and mental development. It refers to work that is mentally, physically, socially or morally dangerous and harmful to children. Furthermore, it involves the kind of work that interferes with their schooling by depriving them of the opportunity to attend school, obliging them to leave school prematurely, or requiring them to attempt to combine school attendance with excessively long and heavy work. In 2000, UNICEF estimated that 45.3 percent of children ages 6 to 14 years were working in Lebanon. Children are employed in metal works, handicraft and artisan establishments, as well as sales, construction work and the operation of machinery. Moreover, in Egypt in 2007 an estimated 20.5% of children between 6  and 14 years are working, 73% of them are boys and the rest 27% are girls, both working mainly in agriculture doing seasonal work for 11 hours per day, seven days a week, far above the number of hours permitted under Egypt’s Child Law. Whether or not particular forms of "work" can be called "child labour" depends on the child's age, the type and hours of work performed, the conditions under which it is performed and the objectives pursued by individual countries. The answer varies from country to country as well as among sectors within countries.

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The ILO’s Minimum Age Convention, 1973 (No. 138) states that the minimum age for entry into employment should not be less than the age of completion of compulsory schooling, and not less than 15 years, or 14 in the case of countries “whose economy and educational facilities are insufficiently developed “(Article 2, paragraph 3 and 4).

The situation is not clear-cut for children aged 12-14, because Convention No.138, Article7, paragraph 1, permits light work for 13 to 14 year-olds (or 12 to 13 year-olds in developing countries). Consequently the country-specific number of children in light ...

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