CONTACT: MARY GERAGHTY KENYON
300 Plaza Centre One
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0011; fax (319) 384-0024
Release: Oct. 15, 2002
$300,000 federal grant raises UI Child Labor Research Initiative funding
to $1.2 million
University of Iowa Center for Human Rights (UICHR) has won a $300,000 grant
from the U.S. Department of Labor to expand the center's Child Labor Research
Initiative. This brings total federal funding for the project to $1.2 million,
including the initial $900,000 grant that got the program started last fall.
Burns Weston, UICHR director and emeritus professor of law, said the bulk
of the new funding would be used to broaden and deepen the Child Labor Public
Education Program, which is working to focus public attention, especially
among trade unions, on various aspects of child labor abuses, including international
trade, workers' rights, and children's health. This is a collaborative project
of the UICHR and the UI Labor Center, led by Dan Holub, acting director of
the Labor Center and a member of the UICHR Executive Council.
Another aspect of the Child Labor Research Initiative involves collecting,
translating and establishing a database of national laws dealing with the
worst forms of child labor. To date, the center's staff has been researching
the laws of 20 countriesBrazil, Cambodia, China, Costa Rica, Cote d'Ivoire,
Czech Republic, Egypt, El Salvador, France, India, Mexico, Nepal, Nigeria,
Philippines, Russia, South Africa, Tanzania, Turkey, United Kingdom, and the
United States. The additional funds will allow for expansion to include five
additional countries, which the UICHR will select after consultation with
the Labor Department and the International Labor Organization.
"We are enormously grateful to the U.S. Department of Labor for the
funding support for this project," said Chivy Sok, UICHR deputy director.
"I am confident that our excellent team of faculty, staff, and student
researchers will make a significant contribution to the global effort to eliminate
the most exploitative and abusive forms of child labor."
Funds from the grant will also enable the UICHR to support scholarly research
on child labor abuses and to host a two-day workshop colloquium in Summer
2003, bringing together a group of child labor and human rights specialists
to examine "Using the Human Rights Framework to Combat Abusive Child
Weston said Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) was instrumental in securing this latest
grant and praised Harkin's "unfailing commitment to the reduction and
abolition of child labor worldwide."
According to the 2000 International Labor Organization estimate, approximately
352 million children, between the ages of 5 and 17 are engaged in economic
activities. An estimated 246 million of those work in exploitative and abusive
conditions. They are child prostitutes forced to serve clients against their
will. They work in brick factories, mines, armed conflict situations, carpet
weaving centers, domestic service, leather tanning shops and other hazardous
places rather than going to school. The Child Labor Research Initiative at
the UI aims to contribute to the worldwide effort to eradicate these abusive
conditions through research, curricula development, and public education to
raise awareness about this important global issue.
"The University of Iowa is fortunate to have Professor Weston, a scholar
known around the world for his expertise in international law and his commitment
to human rights," said Derek Willard, associate vice president for research
and special assistant to the president for governmental relations. "He
and his colleagues at the Center for Human Rights and the University of Iowa
Labor Center have positioned the University to make powerful contributions
to our knowledge of this field and to the education of the public."
For more information, contact the UI Center for Human Rights at (319) 335-3900.