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Kailash Satyarthi
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Human Rights Award 1999

Kailash Satyarthi, India

Political context

The International Labour Organization (IAO) in Geneva passed convention no. 182 on June 6th, 1999, which fights against child labour worldwide. All signatory member states undertake to ratify and implement the convention in their countries to ensure that the exploitation of children under the age of 18 is banned.

According to the IAO, 246 million children worldwide are still compelled to work in textile factories and mines. The majority of all child labourers live in Asia. The children are barred from an adequate education. Furthermore, all children suffer from physical and psychological damages through abuses, long working hours, bad nutrition and diseases due to bad working conditions.

Even six-year-olds are compelled by their families to work in their in-house businesses or in the industry to earn their living. All too frequent, children encounter "slavery" to pay the debts of their parents, which have grown immensely due to extortionate rates of credit interest. In many cases, families sell their children to businessmen.

Some impressions of the award

The Awardee

The Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung honoured Kailash Satyarthi on May 11, 1999 for his arduous efforts against child slavery in South Asia. 1980 he has been appointed as General Secretary of the Bonded Labour Liberation Front and is since then fighting for the abolition of social injustice and slavery, especially of children. 1989 he was co-founder of the South Asian Coalition on Child Servitude - SACCS. The coalition includes more than 470 partner organisations in India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Sri Lanka. Since 1992, he has been chairman of the SACCS. Kailash Satyarthi made significant contributions to establish the RUGMARK seal to label products that originate from certified organisations without child labourers. Furthermore, thanks to the commitment of Kailash Satyarthi, the rehabilitation centre 'Mukti Ashram' in Delhi and 'Bal Ashram' in Jaipur were built for former child slaves. Today, 18 education centres in different states of India are present. In 1998, he organised the "Global March Against Child Labour," 80,000 km all the way through Asia, Africa, America, Australia and Europe and ending in Geneva. There, in June 1988, he spoke in front of the 86th ILO-Conference.

Further Information
Publications Brochure on the Human Rights Award 1999 (German) Links to Publications C 182 - Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention International Labour Organisation 1999 A future without Child Labour International report of the IAO, 2002 Investing in Every Child An Economic Study of the Costs and Benefits of Eliminating Child Labour Brochure, International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC), 2003 India: Challenges On the Road To Becoming a World Power. By Peter Gey, Matthias Jobelius & Renate Tenbusch, Berlin: FES, September 2007 Links Website of IAO regarding child labour Website of Human Rights Watch regarding child labour Website of UNICEF regarding: „Child protection from violence, exploitation and abuse” Website of the FES Department for Asia and the Pacific (German) Website of the FES Office India