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Do we need a ban on child labour?

Johanna Stolze
Universität Hamburg
Johanna Stolze
Universität Hamburg
Open Panel

Abstract

Child labour in developing as well as transforming countries is still an everyday reality. Do we, citizens of EU member states, have a normative responsibility towards child labourers and if so, would it imply any need for action to be undertaken? Or is child labour rather to be seen as a morally neutral, logical consequence of our economic and political system which might be necessary at a certain stage of development to meet the demands of national and global markets? This paper analyses the issue of present day child labour and the European citizens’ responsibility towards it in a multi-dimensional way. It first elaborates on economic advantages and disadvantages of child labour. In a second part the ethical dimensions are being critically evaluated, by raising the question whether child labour is unjust, addressing the feasible nature of injustice, and taking a look at its’ implications for a possible responsibility and consequences on health, education and household income in the concerned countries. Also the responsibility of EU citizens in the light of citizen journalism will be taken account of. Finally, this leads to considerations about responsibilities of the other actors at stake, particularly the child workers themselves, their employers, and governments. In addition, it raises the question, if possible responsibilities imply a (normative) need to resolve or at least compensate for the injustices that have been generated. On these grounds, in the last section, possible outcomes and alternatives to the present day situation are being discussed. The paper ends with a conclusion about the participation and liability of European citizens’ to child labour in developing and transforming countries.