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King & Queen of Spain condemn child labour

Their Majesties King Juan Carlos I and Queen Sofia of Spain visit ILO Headquarters

King Juan Carlos I calls for child labour to be vigorously condemned and combated

GENEVA (ILO NEWS) – His Majesty the King of Spain, Juan Carlos I, today described the extent of child labour as "appalling", and called for it to be vigorously combated as part of the effort to give a "human dimension" to the process of globalization.

Their Majesties King Juan Carlos I and Queen Sofia visited the International Labour Organization (ILO) to commemorate the 10th anniversary of Spain's cooperation with the ILO International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC).

"More than 240 million children worldwide work daily instead of attending school. This is indeed an appalling figure", said the King during a speech given at a Special Session attended by government, employer and worker representatives.

The King and Queen of Spain, accompanied by the Spanish Foreign Minister, Miguel Angel Moratinos, were welcomed by the Director-General of the ILO, Juan Somavia, with whom they met privately. The Chairman of the Governing Body of the ILO, Philippe Séguin, chaired today's Special Session.

"Work carried out by school-age children should be vigorously condemned and combated, not only because it adversely affects children's health and education, but, above all, because it violates their most basic rights, to dignity and to freedom", said the King.

He went on to say that "poverty, which is at the root of child labour, transforms child labour into actual forced labour".

King Juan Carlos I recalled that Spain was a founder Member of the ILO, the oldest organization in the United Nations system, and that his country had signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the ILO in 1995 to support IPEC in its efforts to eliminate child labour, particularly in Latin America.

"We want to contribute, through programmes such as the one we are commemorating today, to making economic globalization a positive social force for all the peoples of the world", the King of Spain told the ILO.

"Our aim is to ensure that the process of globalization does not become entrenched in economics and finance. We hope that it will also have a human dimension", he added, declaring that in a just society "there is no room for child labour, or forced labour, or labour carried out without adequate safety measures and health regulations. Neither, of course, can there be room for labour which discriminates against workers for reasons of sex, race, creed or nationality".

The Director-General of the ILO said that Spanish cooperation with IPEC had allowed more than 100,000 children who were victims of the worst forms of child labour to have access to education. "More than 35,000 families have been helped to increase their level of income, and not to depend for subsistence on work done by their children", he added.

Mr. Somavia said that there was still a long way to go in eliminating child labour. "We must continue our work so that the girls and boys of today will be the women and men who have decent work tomorrow."

Decent work is "a widespread demand" said the ILO Director-General, adding that "this strong democratic demand can be seen in all countries".

The Governing Body Chairman, Mr. Séguin, said he viewed the presence of the King and Queen at the ILO as a testament to their awareness of "the human and rational vision embodied by the ILO, the values it defends, and its desire to meet the challenges of creating a social dimension to globalization".

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