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Wednesday, June 16, 1999 Published at 14:37 GMT 15:37 UK


Clinton backs clampdown on child slavery

An earlier attempt to ban all child labour failed

By Washington Correspondent, Paul Reynolds

President Clinton has pledged American support for a new international convention to stop the worst forms of child labour.

He told an International Labour Organisation conference in Geneva: "We must wipe from the Earth the most vicious forms of abusive child labour.

"Every single day, tens of millions of children work in conditions that shock the conscience."

The convention, which seeks to end what it calls the worst forms of child labour - slavery and bondage, prostitution and pornography, drugs and hazardous work - is due to be approved by the ILO on Thursday.

Family survival

Mr Clinton said he would present the convention to Congress for ratification. It seeks to ban only the worst forms of child labour, as an earlier effort to ban child labour altogether failed to gain enough support. The United States itself did not ratify it.

Mr Clinton's speech - the first to the ILO by a US president - marks the start of an eight-day visit to Europe, one theme of which will be the need to put a human face on economic globalisation.

In some countries, work by children is necessary for family economic survival. It is estimated that worldwide, 120 million children work full time.

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