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Cambodian GOVERNMENT's Policies on Child Labor

Cambodia has mainstreamed child labour into its development plans and legislative framework, and established a government office (a Department with in the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training) dedicated to ending child labour.  National development plans will establish an enabling environment that will lead to permanent solutions for child labour.  In terms of legislation, Cambodia has banned child labour in the work place and has ratified core ILO conventions.

National development policy guidelines on child labour
Cambodia’s national development plans are highlighted in its National Strategic Development Plan (NSDP) 2006-2010, its Cambodian Millennium Development Goals (CMDG), the Rectangular Strategy (RS) and the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training's (MLVT) Strategic Plan 2006-2010. The national development plans emphasise strengthened governance, poverty reduction, better services coverage, and improved schooling, all necessary elements for a durable solution to child labour.

The CMDG sets a reduction in the proportion of 5-17 year-old working children from 13% in 2005, 10.6% in 2010, and 8% in 2015.

Thus, the ILO target of eliminating all the worst forms of child labour in Cambodia by the year 2016 converges with the CMDG goal of reducing all forms of child labour to 8% by 2015. It also converges with the 2015 target for achieving Education For All in Cambodia.

Guidelines for national action on child labour
National efforts to combat child labour take place mainly within the frameworks of the draft National Plan of Action on the Worst Forms of Child Labour (NPA-WFCL) 2008-2012, the draft National Plan of Action Against Trafficking in Persons and Sexual Exploitation (NPA-TIPSE) 2006-2010, and the Education for All (EFA) National Plan 2003-2015.  The goals of the EFA National Plan are in turn supported by the Education Strategic Plan 2004-08 and by a rolling Education Sector Support Programme (ESSP), which identifies specific action areas. The ESSP is annually reviewed jointly by all education partners (Government, non-governmental organisations/ NGOs and international organisations), thus ensuring a sense of commitment, ownership and partnership to educational change.  A number of sub-regional and bilateral agreements provide the framework for cross-border efforts against child trafficking.

The NPA-WFCL mirrors the CMDG and NSDP goals of reducing the incidence of child labour to 8% by 2015.  It adopts an integrated, cross-sectoral approach to child labour reduction, and envisages the active involvement of all key stakeholders. The plan contains 8 areas of action: (1) research and study (to generate information needed to guide policy and raise awareness); (2) policy and institutional development (to strengthen the policy framework and institutional capacity to implement policy); (3) legislation and enforcement (to strengthen the legal framework and national capacity for enforcement); (4) advocacy, networking and social mobilisation (to raise awareness of child labour and national commitment to address it); (5) education (to provide a viable alternative to child labour); (6) prevention (to address supply- and demand-side factors causing children to enter worst forms of child labour); (7) protection (to protect the existing stock of older (15-17 year-old) child workers from workplace harm); and (8) withdrawal/ removal and rehabilitation (to remove children from harmful or exploitative work and enable them to reintegrate into society).

The NPA-WFCL is anchored in the broader policy frameworks of the CMDG and NSDP, which provide opportunities for mainstreaming child labour policy, issues and support into key development programmes in the country and major donors. Coordinating the links into the NPA and subsequently to the CMDG and NSDP will be critical to ensure that support is maximised.

Key structures within the government are mandated to carry out phased actions to eliminate child labour in the country, or were established for this purpose explicitly. The RGC set up an inter-ministerial body called the Cambodian National Council for Children (CNCC) in 1995, to support the implementation of the Conventions on the Rights of the Child in Cambodia, which also began to address child labour. In 2000, the government established a National Sub-Committee on Child Labour and Other Forms of Commercial Exploitation of Children (NSC-CL). The Chair of the Sub Committee vests with the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training.

The RGC has also integrated child labour as an indicator into key national development plans.  For example, the CMDGs aim to reduce the proportion of child labour from 16.5% in 1999 to 8% by 2015. The National Plan of Action on Education seeks to enrol 6-14 year-olds in school by 2010, whilst the Education for All initiative commits to enrolling all children by 2015.

Legislative Frameworks

The Cambodian government has ratified all of the core ILO conventions – the only country in the Greater Mekong Sub-region to do so.  It has also made a number of important legal commitments in the area of child labour, as briefly described below.

The Government signed the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1992, ratified the ILO Convention No. 138 (Minimum Age) in 1999 and ILO Convention No. 182 (Worst Forms) in 2005. Cambodia’s Labour Law sets the minimum age for employment at 15 years, though children aged 12-14 years are allowed to do light work that is not hazardous and does not affect regular school attendance or participation in other training programmes. Provision No 2, Article 177 of this Law provides that the minimum allowable age for any kind of employment or work that by its nature could be hazardous to the health, safety, or morality is 18 years. It further states that minors below 18 years cannot be employed in underground mines or quarries and in night work.

The Cambodian National Assembly has also adopted and approved for implementation an ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Organisation (AIPO) resolution to prevent and eradicate the worst forms of child labour. The resolution, adopted during the AIPO 25th General Assembly in September 2004, calls for immediate, comprehensive, and concerted action to remove children from hazardous and sexually exploitative work, and to provide for the safety, rehabilitation, and social integration of affected children.  Domestic law banning child labour however is still very much in its rudimentary stages.

For details, please click links below:

  • Chapter Children and Women
  • Article 177


Last Updated (Thursday, 10 March 2011 07:11)

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