NEWS:Clinton Backs Global Ban On Child Labor Abuse

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Subject: NEWS:Clinton Backs Global Ban On Child Labor Abuse
From: Jyothi Kanics (jkanics@igc.org)
Date: Mon Jun 14 1999 - 19:03:35 EDT


NOTE: This article is not about trafficking, but I thought that it might be
interesting to many on the list especially those who work to protect
children's rights.

Sunday June 13 12:51 AM ET

Clinton Backs Global Ban On Child Labor Abuse
                 By Laurence McQuillan

                 CHICAGO (Reuters) - President Clinton Saturday condemned
abusive child
labor practices in poor countries that ``shock the conscience'' and
endorsed efforts to get a global
agreement on cracking down on exploiters of children.

In a commencement address at the University of Chicago that touched on a
wide range of trade and
economic issues, Clinton renewed his call for an expansion of free trade
and urged Congress to
restore his ability to negotiate international trade agreements.

Clinton, whose remarks on child labor brought repeated applause from the
820 graduates and their
family members at the outdoor ceremony, said he had issued a directive to
all federal agencies ``to
make absolutely sure they are not buying any products of abusive child
labor.''

``In many, many communities around the world, tens of millions of children
work in conditions that
shock the conscience and send the products to us and to other wealthy
countries,'' Clinton said.

Thursday, Clinton will fly to Geneva to endorse an international convention
under consideration by
the International Labor Organization that would ban the worst forms of
child labor -- slavery,
prostitution and work that exposes children to dangerous conditions.

The ILO has been drafting a document to prohibit such abuse and is expected
to vote on it soon. An
estimated 250 million children under the age of 14 are used as cheap labor
in developing countries,
the ILO says.

``Next week I am going to Switzerland to seek a worldwide agreement to ban
the worst child labor
in every nation in this world,'' Clinton said.

Condemning ``the conditions ... these 8- and 9-year-old children are
working in,'' Clinton noted that
opponents of a pact say, ``We're a poor country, and we have to earn money
however we can.''

But developing nations need to ``understand that these countries will never
grow until they begin to
educate their children,'' he said. ``We have to start with the abolition of
child labor,'' he added.

Clinton spoke in general terms about the need to open trade around the
world and to reach out to
new markets as he prepares to attend a summit of the seven major industrial
nations plus Russia in
Cologne, Germany, next weekend.

``I want to do more with our friends in Africa and Central America and the
Caribbean,'' he said. ``I
want to bring China into the World Trade Organization on fair and strong
terms. I want to resist
quotas but to vigorously enforce our trade laws.''

``I do believe that you can have fair and freer trade, but we'll have to
work at it,'' Clinton said, urging
Congress to renew his authority to negotiate international trade agreements
without subjecting them
to changes.

Clinton has been seeking so-called fast-track trade negotiating authority
from Congress. He had it
until 1994. The authority means that Congress could accept or reject but
not amend any trade
agreement reached with a foreign country.

Many U.S. farmers complain they are being left behind as their competitors
in such places as the
European Union and Canada negotiate new trade agreements to open markets.

White House officials, while stressing that Clinton would like fast-track
authority as soon as possible,
acknowledged there was little likelihood it will be approved this year.

The Republican-controlled Congress has shown little interest in approving
the measure, and many
U.S. labor unions -- an important Democratic constituency -- oppose the
bill, fearful that future trade
pacts will cost jobs.

In the World Trade Organization, a new round of global trade negotiations
on certain tariff
reductions is scheduled to start in November. Clinton's fast-track appeal
was issued with those talks
in mind, officials said.


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