THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release June 12, 1999
PRESIDENT CLINTON: WORKING TO ELIMINATE
ABUSIVE CHILD LABOR
June 12, 1999
At the University of Chicago, President Clinton will today tell
graduating students, their families, and faculty that "forced child
labor is an abomination, anywhere and everywhere." He will describe
three steps that the Clinton Administration is taking to fight the worst
forms of child labor.
The President is signing today an Executive Order directing federal
agencies to take steps to ban procurement of goods made by forced
or indentured child labor.
Last year, the U.S. increased ten-fold the funds for protecting
children from abusive child labor worldwide; the President is
seeking $10 million more in FY 2000.
The U.S. is negotiating a new international convention to ban the
worst forms of child labor that should become a widely accepted
The Problems of Child Labor
- The International Labor Organization (ILO) estimates that at least
250 million children between the ages of five and 14 are working in
developing countries, almost half of them full time, and tens of
millions under exploitative and harmful conditions.
- Around the world, young children are exposed to hazardous conditions,
including harmful pesticides on farms and toxic and carcinogenic
substances in manufacturing, during their formative years.
- As Senator Harkin (D-Iowa) has highlighted for several years some
children labor in bondage. Children are sold into prostitution, or
are indentured to manufacturers of hand-knotted carpets and bricks,
for example, working against debts for wages so low that they will
never be repaid.
Banning of Goods Made By Forced Child Labor
- Today, President Clinton is signing an Executive Order, inspired,
largely, by the leadership of Senator Tom Harkin ( D-Iowa) that:
Directs federal agencies to develop a list of products that may
have been mined, produced, or manufactured by forced or indentured
Directs the Federal Acquisition Regulatory Council to publish
regulations requiring that federal contractors provide a
certification that: (1) the contractor has made a good faith effort
to determine whether forced or indentured child labor was used in
producing the product; and (2) the contractor is unaware of any
such use of child labor; and
Directs that the proposed procurement regulations subject
contractors found to be in violation to suspension or debarment
from Federal procurement.
The ILO Convention on the Worst Forms of Child Labor
- Next week, President Clinton will travel to Geneva to speak to the
International Labor Conference -- the annual meeting of the
government, worker, and business representatives to the ILO. This
will be the first time an American President travels to Geneva to
speak to the Conference; the last similar occasion was in 1941, when
the ILO delegates traveled to Washington to meet with President
- President Clinton will speak the night before the Conference is
scheduled to vote to adopt a new convention on the worst forms of
- The convention is intended to establish a widely recognized (and
widely ratified) international standard for protection of children
against forced or indentured labor, child prostitution or
pornography, use of children in drug trafficking, and work that is
likely to harm the health, safety or morals of children.
U.S. Efforts Save Children From Abusive Labor
- The United States is the world's largest donor to the ILO's
International Program for the Elimination of Child Labor (IPEC).
Last year, President Clinton sought and won a ten-fold increase in
the U.S. contribution to IPEC to $30 million a year.
- With this new assistance, the U.S. is funding projects around the
world. For example:
--Remove a thousand young children from abusive domestic service in
Haiti and provide 10,000 more with education, healthcare, and
other rehabilitative services to combat or prevent abuse;
--Prevent 2500 children from entering work, and withdraw another
2200 children, making fireworks in dangerous conditions in
--Help the Ugandan government develop a national strategy to combat
exploitative child labor.
- A recent Department of Labor study concluded that universal primary
education is one of the most effective ways to combat child labor.
President Clinton's FY 2000 balanced budget includes $10 million (in
addition to the IPEC funds) for an innovative program at the U.S.
Agency for International Development called "School Works!" which
will help developing countries improve educational alternatives to
PRESIDENT CLINTON: "PUTTING A HUMAN FACE ON THE
June 12, 1999
President Clinton today in a speech before graduating students of the
University of Chicago will outline a broad, new policy framework for
approaching the economic and social challenges posed by rapid
technological change and world economic integration. Elaborating on the
appeal he made in his State of the Union speech in January to put a
human face on the global economy, he will present an agenda in the areas
of international trade, labor, and financial policy aimed at building a
new public consensus in support of continued US leadership in the
liberalization of world trade and investment rules.
The President WILL Articulate Three Policy Challenges:
- Forging an open trading system that honors our values and seeking
high labor standards that lift the lives of working people;
- Building an international financial system that is more resistant to
cycles of booms and busts; and
- Spreading the benefits of global economic growth as widely as
Freeing Trade and Raising Labor Standards. The President will reiterate
his call in the State of the Union address for a new consensus on trade
that recognizes the need to open markets further while addressing the
concerns of working people at home and abroad. Arguing that the
"greatest hope for the American middle class is the creation of a global
middle class," the President will:
- Appeal to Congress to provide him with authority to negotiate new
trade agreements to open markets that includes "the ability to use
trade talks, when effective and appropriate, to protect the
environment and the rights of workers and the dignity of work."
- Urge free trade advocates to support adequate domestic funding of
education and job training.
- Foreshadow his speech to the International Labor Organization next
week, stating that no economy "is so in need of competitive advantage
that it cannot guarantee the right to organize, the right to a
minimum wage, and an end to forced labor."
- Renew his commitment to abolish child labor by announcing the
issuance of an Executive Order to bar federal government procurement
of products made with forced child labor.
- Announce his intention to seek an agreement in Geneva next week and
ask Congress to ratify thereafter a new International Labor
Organization convention banning the worst forms of child labor.
Building a More Stable International Financial System. Reflecting on
US-led efforts to respond to the international financial crisis that
began in Southeast Asia two years ago, the President will reiterate his
call for a new international financial architecture "as modern as the
markets it serves." He will state that work is close to completion on
new rules to promote:
- More openness and honest accounting.
- Strong regulation of financial institutions and the flow of capital.
- Broader country participation in international financial regulatory
Spreading the benefits of global growth more widely. Asserting that
"growth broadly shared is better sustained," the President will argue
for widening the circle of prosperity generated by the new, global
economy in part by drawing the poorest countries further into
international commerce and reducing their debt burdens. To this end, he
will announce that:
- The United States is close to achieving agreement among leading
industrial economies on a plan to more than triple the scale of debt
relief for the world poorest nations and target these savings to
improved education, health, and living standards for their people.
- He will work to find the budgetary resources to do our part in this
effort and contribute to an expanded international trust fund for