n Commonwealth Youth and Development - Children's rights and protection against child labour in South Africa




Children are the future of the nations and the world. Children's rights are enshrined in several international human rights instruments as well as in national constitutions all over the word, including the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa. Children's rights include civil and socio-economic rights. One of these rights is the right to be protected from any economic exploitation and from work that is dangerous to their health and hampers their development. Accordingly, child labour is a violation of children's fundamental human rights.

Against this background, this paper investigates child labour, its nature, causes, and forms in the light of the relevant international legal instruments as well as the South African Constitution, labour legislation, and case law in the Republic of South Africa. It is submitted that child labour persists in South Africa despite its condemnation by several international instruments endorsed by the Republic and by its own Constitution. The paper provides a review of international instruments and South African legislation in relation to child labour. It examines the causes, nature and extent of child labour and reflects on the socio-economic conditions of working children in South Africa. It also investigates the challenges and how they may be overcome to protect children's rights better in South Africa, particularly their socio-economic rights, and bring an end to child labour in this country. It ends with a brief conclusion on the prospects for children's rights and child labour in South Africa.


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