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Child labour: A priority for EU human rights action

15-01-2019

Despite a comprehensive normative international framework that prohibits child labour, it persists in many areas of the world, particularly in developing countries. In sub-Saharan-Africa, it has even increased in recent years. More efforts are therefore needed to combat child labour. However, not all work performed by children is harmful to their health and development. The first task is therefore to distinguish child labour – which entails harmful forms of work – from other forms of children's involvement ...

Despite a comprehensive normative international framework that prohibits child labour, it persists in many areas of the world, particularly in developing countries. In sub-Saharan-Africa, it has even increased in recent years. More efforts are therefore needed to combat child labour. However, not all work performed by children is harmful to their health and development. The first task is therefore to distinguish child labour – which entails harmful forms of work – from other forms of children's involvement with work that are acceptable and have an educational component. While international conventions provide a broad definition of child labour, they leave the task of defining more precise criteria, such as the acceptable number of working hours per week or what constitutes hazardous work, to national legislation. Child labour is a complex phenomenon that has a multiplicity of causes, among which poverty usually features first. It requires a comprehensive approach to fight it, including awareness-raising among families and local communities, due diligence by companies involved in global supply chains, and action by governments, international organisations and civil society. The European Union protects children's rights through both its internal and external policies. It has deployed measures to fight child labour through cooperation with international organisations and has funded development projects whose aim is to counter it. The human rights conditionality enshrined in the EU's trade arrangements provides another path for tackling child labour. Nevertheless, there are numerous calls from civil society and the European Parliament to impose binding legal obligations on EU-based companies, to make sure their imports of goods from developing countries are free of child labour.

Contemporary forms of slavery

20-12-2018

This briefing aims to clarify the concept of contemporary forms of slavery and analyse the legal obligations of States, as well as recent international developments at global and EU levels. It highlights the inconsistent application of the concept by global governance actors and discusses the inclusion of various exploitative practices within this conceptual framework. It also examines the prevalence of contemporary forms of slavery and assesses the policy framework for EU external action. The briefing ...

This briefing aims to clarify the concept of contemporary forms of slavery and analyse the legal obligations of States, as well as recent international developments at global and EU levels. It highlights the inconsistent application of the concept by global governance actors and discusses the inclusion of various exploitative practices within this conceptual framework. It also examines the prevalence of contemporary forms of slavery and assesses the policy framework for EU external action. The briefing then recommends possible action by the EU, including: promotion of a more consistent definition and use of the concept of contemporary forms of slavery and further clarifications on the relationship with the human trafficking and forced labour frameworks; a role for the EU as catalyst in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and Targets in the field of all contemporary forms of slavery; support for standardising methods of data collection globally. Finally, the paper invites the EU to assess the possibility of drafting a new treaty on contemporary forms of slavery, as a way to fill some existing loopholes at the international level.

Údar seachtarach

Silvia SCARPA

Uzbekistan comes in from the cold: A new era of reforms

17-12-2018

Until recently, Uzbekistan was one of the most repressive countries in the world. Under its long-time leader Islam Karimov, human rights abuses included torture, child and forced adult labour, as well as severe restrictions on religious freedom, the media and civil society. Following Karimov's death in 2016, his successor Shavkat Mirziyoyev has launched an ambitious reform programme. Some of the worst human rights abuses (such as torture and forced labour) have been phased out, or at least diminished ...

Until recently, Uzbekistan was one of the most repressive countries in the world. Under its long-time leader Islam Karimov, human rights abuses included torture, child and forced adult labour, as well as severe restrictions on religious freedom, the media and civil society. Following Karimov's death in 2016, his successor Shavkat Mirziyoyev has launched an ambitious reform programme. Some of the worst human rights abuses (such as torture and forced labour) have been phased out, or at least diminished. Judges have become more independent, and the parliament has gained new powers. Steps have been taken to make the country's civil service more accountable to citizens. Media and civil society now have slightly more freedom to operate. Political reforms have been flanked by economic liberalisation. Barriers to trade and investment are being lifted, including by floating the som, the Uzbek currency, and by cutting red tape for businesses. On foreign policy, Uzbekistan has repaired ties with all its main international partners, from the US and EU to Russia and China. The most dramatic change has been the shift from Karimov-era confrontation with neighbours, such as Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, to regional cooperation. These are highly positive changes, but Uzbekistan still has a long way to go. The economy remains largely state-controlled and uncompetitive, and liberalising reforms need to continue. On the political front, the system remains fundamentally authoritarian, and transition to genuine multiparty democracy seems unlikely.

World Day Against Child Labour

09-06-2017

The International Labour Organization (ILO) introduced the World Day Against Child Labour in 2002, as part of their efforts to eradicate this unacceptable phenomenon. The day is observed each year on 12 June, and this year the focus will be on the impact of conflicts and disasters. It is also an opportunity to consider what measures have been taken at international and EU level to prevent child labour, and with what success.

The International Labour Organization (ILO) introduced the World Day Against Child Labour in 2002, as part of their efforts to eradicate this unacceptable phenomenon. The day is observed each year on 12 June, and this year the focus will be on the impact of conflicts and disasters. It is also an opportunity to consider what measures have been taken at international and EU level to prevent child labour, and with what success.

The International Labour Organisation and International Trade

28-01-2016

The EU's trade policy does not exist in a vacuum. On the one hand, it is affected by international standard and rule-setting. On the other hand, the EU is itself an influential actor shaping the international trade agenda by participating in the work of international organisations and fora. This short note focuses on the International Labour Organisation.

The EU's trade policy does not exist in a vacuum. On the one hand, it is affected by international standard and rule-setting. On the other hand, the EU is itself an influential actor shaping the international trade agenda by participating in the work of international organisations and fora. This short note focuses on the International Labour Organisation.

Uzbekistan: human rights situation

18-02-2015

Uzbekistan's human rights record is widely decried. A UN report has described the use of torture as 'systematic'. An EP resolution calls on the EU High Representative, the EEAS and EU Member States to push Uzbekistan to make tangible human rights improvements.

Uzbekistan's human rights record is widely decried. A UN report has described the use of torture as 'systematic'. An EP resolution calls on the EU High Representative, the EEAS and EU Member States to push Uzbekistan to make tangible human rights improvements.

UN Convention on Children's Rights: 25 years on

20-11-2014

This month marks the 25th anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), the first international treaty to recognise children as human beings with innate rights. Since 1989, conditions for children have improved, but millions remain unprotected.

This month marks the 25th anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), the first international treaty to recognise children as human beings with innate rights. Since 1989, conditions for children have improved, but millions remain unprotected.

Pakistan: human rights situation

16-10-2014

Human rights abuse is one of the most complex and challenging issues in Pakistan today. The EU has expressed concerns about the human rights situation and monitors events closely.

Human rights abuse is one of the most complex and challenging issues in Pakistan today. The EU has expressed concerns about the human rights situation and monitors events closely.

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