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Tuesday, 2 June, 1998, 17:24 GMT 18:24 UK
Child labour march makes its way to Downing Street
Campaigners from the Global March Against Child Labour
One in four children in the developing world work for a living, says the International Labour Organisation
The Global March Against Child Labour, which has crossed four continents over the last five months, has arrived in London to deliver a petition to No 10 Downing Street.

The group of child workers, former child labourers and adult campaigners will be joined by children in London to present a petition of 30,000 paper footprints, traced by schoolchildren and youth groups around Britain and Ireland in support of the march.

The march aims to mobilise worldwide efforts to protect and promote the rights of children from economic exploitation or from performing any work that is likely to be harmful to their physical, mental, moral or social development.

Kailash Satyarthi, international co-ordinator of the march said: "Globalisation seems to be the buzzword nowadays - globalisation of the economy, trade and investment. We're on our march to tell Tony Blair and government leaders and people everywhere that it's time to globalise compassion."

The marchers will also be joined by children from schools around London to hold a vigil outside Downing Street today. They will then continue on to Bristol, Glasgow, Cardiff, Belfast, Manchester and Northampton, before heading for mainland Europe.

The Global March Against Child Labour was launched in Manila, in the Philippines, on January 17 1998 and is set to conclude in Geneva in June to coincide with the International Labour Organisation's (ILO) world convention on child labour.

With its headquarters in New Delhi, the campaign has been organised through a network of national and local co-ordinators who have gathered supporters and organised marches in 80 countries.

In Asia, the march proceeded from the Philippines through Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Nepal, India, Pakistan, Iran and Turkey. In India, 10,000 schoolchildren and adults marched through the capital New Delhi, protesting against the exploitation of children.

The Latin American initiative was launched in February of this year in Sao Paulo, Brazil, before heading south to Argentina, and then north to Mexico. The African equivalent, which began in Cape Town, South Africa, brought together thousands of children in cities in Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi, Tanzania and Kenya to rally for the cause.

The march through Europe is the final leg of the global campaign, to which more than 1400 organisations have given their support, including governments, churches, human rights agencies, non-governmental organisations, child rights bodies and trade unions.

The organisers of the march now hope that their action will help shape the ILO's new Convention on the Most Extreme Forms of Child Labour, which it will begin drafting at the convention in Geneva next month.

See also:

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