CONTACT: MELVIN O. SHAW
100 Old Public Library
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0010; fax (319) 384-0024
Release: Dec. 19, 2000
UI Center for Human Rights gets $900,000 in federal funding
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Through congressional support led by U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin,
the University of Iowa Center for Human Rights (UICHR) will receive $900,000
in federal funding to establish a UICHR Child Labor Research Initiative (CLRI),
a beginning step toward university-based research on abusive and exploitative
child labor. Congress approved the funding in the final version of the Labor,
Health and Human Services appropriations bill last Friday.
The CLRI is designed for the UICHR to take a leadership role in research
on abusive and exploitative child labor. The UICHR will develop a comprehensive
research agenda of child labor and related worker rights issues, gather and
systematize essential information, commission research among scholars and
others, distill and disseminate research findings, and advise the U.S. Department
of State and other policymakers on the research done.
In related legislative action and support from Harkin, Congress approved
a $1 million competitive grant program that would promote college student
and faculty awareness and involvement in the fight to end child labor and
exploitative sweatshops around the world. The UICHR has applied to receive
$500,000 of the grant money to establish an abusive and exploitative child
labor monitoring program, a move that is supported by the UI's International
Programs, with which the UICHR is affiliated.
Funding for the creation of CLRI is significant not only in terms of its
monetary value, but, more importantly, for the lives of the more than 250
million children it will likely help improve, says Burns Weston, director
of the UICHR and professor emeritus, UI College of Law.
"Our concern is with those children who have a slim chance of ever
seeing the inside of a classroom -- despite many national and international
efforts to curb child labor and related employment practices; this initiative
is intended to help," Weston said.
"The $900,000 grant will help human rights proponents gather information
fundamental to developing a child labor research agenda and related worker
rights issues. Scholars from the UI and throughout the world will be involved,
as will others from government, human rights NGOs, labor unions, business
enterprises, and faith-based organizations. It is a broad-based initiative
that we hope will help stem the number of children ages five to 14 who work
in virtual slavery for little or no pay," Weston said.
The $500,000 grant, if realized by the UICHR, will come from the U.S. Department
of Labor and would help the UICHR establish a Child Labor Field Monitoring
and Reporting Initiative (CLFMRI). Over a three-year period, the CLFMR would
recruit, train and deploy qualified college and university students and faculty
to serve as independent monitors and reporters of child labor and worker rights
violations regarding the manufacture and supply of collegiate licensed apparel
at the institutions where the students and faculty study and teach.
"Students, faculty and staff across the UI campus and throughout the
Big Ten will benefit in many ways from these networking initiatives,"
Earlier this year, UI President Mary Sue Coleman approved a code of conduct
outlining strict guidelines that applies to all UI trademark licensees. The
document specifies the working conditions manufacturers must provide in order
to earn or maintain the right to a UI license, and requires all UI licensees
to "conduct business in such a way that the university will not benefit
from the gross exploitation of U.S. or international labor."
"This infusion of federal funds creates enormous potential in helping
stop the exploitation and abuse in child labor in the global economy, said
Steven Hoch, associate provost and dean of University of Iowa International
"I applaud Professor Weston and his colleagues at the UI Center for
Human Rights who worked diligently to secure these funds to support research
and humanitarian efforts to address this global concern," Hoch said.
Centrally involved in developing these initiatives and deserving many thanks,
Weston said, are Dorothy Paul, executive director of the UICHR; Gina McGee,
assistant director of Sponsored Programs; and Elizabeth Constantine, grants
officer for International Programs.
"It has been and will continue to be a superb team effort," Weston
For more information about the Center contact the staff at (319) 335-3900
or via e-mail at email@example.com or visit
the Center's Web site at http://www.uichr.org