General Comment No. 20 (2016) on the Implementation of the Rights of the Child During Adolescence

General comment No. 20 (2016) on the implementation of the rights of the child during adolescence was released by the United Nations on December 6, 2016. A supplement to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, the comments aim to draw attention to "the powerful case for a focus on adolescents to promote the realisation of their rights, strengthen their potential contribution to positive and progressive social transformation and overcome the challenges they face in the transition from childhood to adulthood in an increasingly globalized and complex world." While comment No. 20 is directed towards states, it is important for the private sector to also engage with these issues, especially since child labour and the violation of young workers' rights is an every day reality for millions of young people across the world. 


The aim of the comment No. 20 is as follows: 

(a) To provide States with guidance on the legislation, policies and services needed to promote comprehensive adolescent development consistent with the realization of their rights;

(b) To raise awareness of the opportunities afforded by and challenges faced during adolescence; 

(c) To enhance understanding of and respect for the evolving capacities of adolescents and the implications for the realization of their rights; 

(d) To strengthen the case for greater visibility and awareness of adolescents and for investment to enable them to realize their rights throughout the course of their lives. 


Two noteworthy aspects covered in the comment that resonate with CCR CSR's work in the protection of juvenile and student workers and child labour prevention include comments on the transition from education to training and/or decent work and child labour:


Transitions from education to training and/or decent work


73. Significant numbers of adolescents are not in education, training or employment, leading to disproportionate levels of unemployment, underemployment and exploitation as they move towards adulthood. The Committee urges States to support out-of-school adolescents in a manner appropriate to their age to facilitate the transition to decent work, including by ensuring consistency between education and labour laws, and to adopt policies to promote their future employment.33 In line with article 28 (1) (d) adolescents, States should make educational and vocational information and guidance available and accessible to adolescents. 


74. Both formal and informal education and training need to be designed for the twenty- first century skills34 required in the modern labour market, including integrating soft and transferrable skills into the curricula; expanding opportunities for experiential or practical learning; developing vocational training based on labour market demand; establishing public-private sector partnerships for entrepreneurship, internships and apprenticeships; and providing guidance on academic and vocational opportunities. States should also disseminate information on employment rights, including rights in relation to membership in trade unions and professional associations.


Child labour


84. The Committee emphasizes that all adolescents have the right to be protected from economic exploitation and the worst forms of child labour, and urges States to implement the provisions of article 32 (2) of the Convention, as well as the International Labour Organization Minimum Age Convention, 1973 (No. 138), and the Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention, 1999 (No. 182).


85. The introduction to age-appropriate forms of work plays an important developmental role in the lives of adolescents, equipping them with skills and enabling them to learn responsibilities and, where necessary, to contribute to their families’ economic well-being and support their access to education. Action against child labour should comprise comprehensive measures, including school-to-work transitions, social and economic development, poverty eradication programmes and universal and free access to quality, inclusive primary and secondary education. It should be underlined that adolescents, once they reach the national legal minimum working age, which should be aligned with international standards and with compulsory education, have the right to perform light work under appropriate conditions, with due respect accorded to their rights to education and to rest, leisure, play, recreational activities, cultural life and the arts.


Published on 28/08/2017

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