The international community has established a global consensus against child labor through a series of widely-ratified conventions and national laws.


International Conventions create a global legal framework for protecting children from child labor.

 UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC)

The CRC is a human rights treaty that comprehensively establishes the rights of children. Under the CRC, a child is anyone under the age of 18, unless otherwise noted in national legislation. Notably, the United States is the only country that has yet to ratify the CRC. Read more

 ILO Minimum Age Convention (No. 138)

ILO Minimum Age Convention No. 138 establishes 15 years as the minimum age for work, though in some cases 14 years is allowed for a specified period of time. The minimum age for work that is likely to jeopardize the health, safety or morals of young persons is 18, while light work that does not harm health or school work is allowed for children aged 13–15. Read more

ILO Worst Forms of Child Labor Convention (No. 182)

ILO Worst Forms of Child Labor Convention No. 182 requires ratifying countries to take immediate action to prohibit and eliminate the worst forms of child labor defined as: all forms of slavery, commercial sexual exploitation of children, and any work that by its nature is harmful to the health, safety, or morals of children. Read more



Consumer country laws are increasingly targeting child labor and human trafficking in supply chains. Current and pending legislation in Australia, Canada, the European Union, Germany, France and the Netherlands, for example, will require companies to identify, address and remedy any parts of their supply chains that could infringe on human rights, the environment or good governance. The Human Rights and Business Resource Centre consolidates updates and background on the majority of laws, including penalties, which can include fines and even imprisonment.  

These laws build on previous ones, such as the 2015 UK Modern Slavery Act, U.S. Tariff Act of 1930, and the California Transparency in Supply Chains Act: 

UK Modern Slavery Act 2015

UK Modern Slavery Act 2015 requires companies operating in United Kingdom with a global turnover of £36 million or more to publish a ‘slavery and human trafficking statement’ for each financial year. Read more

Tariff Act of 1930 (US)

Tariff Act of 1930 was amended on February 11, 2016, through an amendment (H.R. 644) that closed the consumptive demand exemption in Section 307, effectively barring all products made by convict, forced or indentured labor. Read more  


California Transparency in Supply Chains Act requires companies of a certain size to report on their specific actions to eradicate slavery and human trafficking in their supply chains. Mid-size and large retailers and manufacturing companies based in California with worldwide annual revenues of $100 million or more are required provide consumers with information about what steps they take to manage their supply chains responsibly. Read more 


Each producer country has its own series of local and national laws that prohibit child labor and regulate victim rehabilitation efforts.


In Bangladesh, the Constitution and other legal enactments provides protections for children’s fundamental rights, including all forms of discrimination. Substantive laws include:

  • The Labour Act of 2006
  • The Children’s Act of 1974 and Children’s Rules of 1976
  • The Employment of Children Act N. XXVI, 1938
  • The Declaration of the Rights of the Child, 1924 and 1959


In India, the Constitution provides for protection of all children under various fundamental rights, including the provision “for the right of children to free and compulsory education,” the prohibition of “traffic in human being ‘begar’ and other similar forms of forced labour,” and the prohibition of employment of children in hazardous employment.” Substantive laws include:

  • The Indian Penal Code, 1860
  • The Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1976
  • Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986
  • Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) Act, 2000


In Nepal, the Constitution enshrines the principles of equality and justice to every citizen without any discrimination on the basis of race, caste, sex, religion, etc. and safeguards the human rights of all citizens. It delineates the rights of the child and forbids child labour and any forms of labour exploitation. Substantive laws include:

  • Indo Nepal Friendship Treaty, 1950
  • Muluki Ain (General Code), 1963
  • The Children’s Act, 1992
  • The Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 2000
  • The Bonded Labour Prohibition Act, 2002
  • The Human Trafficking Control Act, 2007