Sample Law Research Paper on Child Labor and Human rights

Child Labor and Human Rights

Children rights are special human rights that pay attention to rights of protection, care, association with biological parents and also rights to basic needs like food, education, good health and good development of a child with age. A child is universally defined as any human being who is below eighteen years of age. Children rights require children to be free from physical, emotional and mental abuse. The history of Hebrews and Roman had cultures that greatly impacted the western society because they took children for granted. Children were treated as objects interfering with the day to day activities of people instead of being treated as legal subjects with their own rights. Child labor was evident during the early agricultural societies, but during the industrial revolution, it was highly practiced, and abolitionists started opposing it. The problem was that children as young as ten years were employed in mines and factories and forced to work for long hours in insecure conditions for very little pay. Farmers and factory owners viewed them as their assets having bought land rights, and they believed that they were entitled to their labor. Social reformers were condemning such practices claiming they were detrimental to the welfare and health of children.

In the 19th Century, the major cathedrals began operating education programs but for few teenage boys to produce priests. Defining children rights became clearer in the late 19th Century when Hillary Clinton sought to define children rights through a publication. The 19th Century introduced child protection movements and saw the growth of orphanages and development of protection legislations. These developments were heightened by severe exploitations of the industrial revolution where children were overworked and tortured in textiles industries, in the mines, as domestic workers and in agriculture and other working areas. In the United States, abolitionist movements used courts to interfere in family matters and promote child welfare reforms. These movements were eventually successful as laws regulating child labor were passed and compulsory education provided.

The establishment of the UN system can be said to have initiated the modern era of international human rights law after the second world war which ended in 1945 (Forsythe, 2012).This began by the establishment of Universal Declaration of Human rights in 1948.This declaration enabled members of any international body like the UN to interfere in the domestic affairs of nations in the world to ensure that citizens’ rights were upheld. After that declaration, a number of treaties followed which were dealing with rights of different groups of people. However, rights cannot be divided, and children rights can be implemented and conceived if they exist in the international human rights agenda. Rights that applied to children and not spelled in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) were adopted.

    The 1948 declaration was based on the welfare of a child rather than the children’s rights. The assumption was that children required protection from their elders so that they could practice their rights. These ideas were persistent until the 1959 UN Declaration of the Rights of a Child (DRC). DRC outlined that children were to enjoy protection and opportunities provided by the law for healthy development in all aspects including mentally, spiritually, morally and socially and in conditions of freedom and dignity. Other principles included the right to nationality, good nutrition, good shelter, education and protection against child labor. Another agreement was the 1973 Minimum Age Convention (MAC).The aim of MAC was to establish the minimum age of employment to abolish child labor. Each state party was expected to design a policy that outlined minimum working age with consideration of both physical and mental fitness. The age was specified not to be less than the age of school completion which is 14 years in a state with well-developed educational facilities. The agenda further outlined that in cases where employment was hazardous to the health of a young person, the minimum age was to be raised up to eighteen years.

The CRC was the most comprehensive document on children rights established in 1989. It is the longest UN human right’s agreement. It addresses the implementation of rights both at peacetime and during the time of conflicts. CRC was adopted from a view of children’s perspective and is concerned with four aspects of children. They include children’s protection against discrimination, neglect and exploitation, children protection from harm, providing assistance of basic needs and allowing children to participate in decisions affecting them (Donnelly, 2013).

The effect of CRC has been creating rights under law that were previously non-existent. For example, rights to vulnerable children like refugees. In May 2000, the UN adopted protocols under CRC on sex trafficking and Armed conflict. On those protocols, the treaty addressed the issue of the sale of children, forced labor, participation in armed conflicts and marriage (Kempadoo, Sanghera and Pattanaik, 2015). The agreement provides protection of children from such issues including the victimized children in the criminal justice.

The major changes since CRC came into force has been the formation of new attitude by professionals of children welfares and radicle changes taking place in child welfare organizations. An example is UNICEF in its 1996 Mission statement that set a universal health goal stating that the organization’s work begins from a child’s right view (Trstenjak, 2016). In the 21st Century, all policies concerning children are developed taking into account children as subjects of rights and not as objects as previously viewed. It has come to a realization that children are not just passive objects of concern but make positive contributions to the society.

There has been demand for better information about all aspects of children’s lives in order to ensure all their interests are taken into account. The past one decade has seen the revolution of child welfare where many organizations have been participating in advocating for children’s rights and their welfare. These organizations have been organized at both national and international levels like children’s parliaments. A vast number of well-established non-governmental organizations are also involved in having children participating in decision making and especially in developing countries by engaging them in ‘adult’ activities like project management.


The abolition of child labor during the industrial revolution has evolved from children being viewed as economic assets and objects of interventions to subjects of the law through the development of children welfare legislations. Children rights continue to be the history of adult actions. Human rights perspective enables a fuller understanding of child labor and focuses on discrimination and exclusion. Child labor elimination has transformed into a technocratic exercise rather that a political choice. The human rights agreements have served the best interests of children, and today there is a clear transformation of how children are viewed in the society and their importance and rightful development highly respected by individual and organizations. Children rights continue to be evaluated and debated today to ensure that children take their meaningful and rightful places in the society.


Donnelly, J. (2013). Universal human rights in theory and practice. Cornell University Press.

Forsythe, D. P. (2012). Human rights in international relations. Cambridge University Press.

Kempadoo, K., Sanghera, J., & Pattanaik, B. (2015). Trafficking and

Prostitution reconsidered: New perspectives on migration, sex work, and human rights. Routledge.

Trstenjak, V. (2016). General report: The influence of human rights and basic rights

in private law. In The Influence of Human Rights and Basic Rights in Private Law (pp. 3-61). Springer International Publishing.