Last Updated: Thursday, 18 September 2014, 13:28 GMT

2002 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Lebanon

Publisher United States Department of Labor
Author Bureau of International Labor Affairs
Publication Date 18 April 2003
Cite as United States Department of Labor, 2002 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Lebanon, 18 April 2003, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/48d7489a3c.html [accessed 19 September 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Government Policies and Programs to Eliminate the Worst Forms of Child Labor

The Government of Lebanon has been a member of ILO-IPEC since 2000.2079 In 1994, the Ministry of Social Affairs established the Higher Council for Childhood to coordinate efforts of governmental agencies and NGOs involved in supporting the rights of children.2080 In 2000, with the support of UNICEF, the government's Central Administration of Statistics conducted a Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) on the Situation of Children, of which child labor and education were essential components. In conjunction with the Ministries of Health, Education, and Labor and Social Affairs, as well as with UNICEF, the Director General of Statistics chaired a national committee to draft the report based on the results of the MICS survey.2081

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

In 2000, UNICEF estimated that 45.3 percent of children ages 6 to 14 years were working in Lebanon.2082 Just under half of working children are employed in industry, while 31 percent work in commerce, repairs and maintenance.2083 Children work in metal works, handicraft and artisan establishments,2084 as well as sales, construction work and the operation of machinery.2085 Approximately 11 percent work in agriculture.2086 The employment of children under the age of 10 is rare.2087 Statistics from a 1997 study showed that the overwhelming majority of registered working children are boys. These official figures further indicate a decline in economically active children in the past two decades.2088 UNICEF estimates of all child labor, including unregistered labor, however, suggest that over half of the children between the ages of 5 and 14 who are engaged in work are girls.2089 In poorer, more remote regions child labor is more prominent, and larger numbers of younger children are economically active.2090 National reports estimated that 25,000 children ages 7 to14 are working in tobacco cultivation.2091 The majority of children working in tobacco cultivation are unpaid, some entering the labor force as early as 3 years old.2092

On March 16, 1998, the Government of Lebanon adopted legislation providing free and compulsory primary school education through the age of 12.2093 Despite this legislation, education is not free. The average annual cost per student in primary education in 1997 was 271,000 Lebanese pounds (USD 176).2094 Lebanon enjoys one of the most advanced educational systems in the Arab world in terms of quality and gender equality. Literacy rates are the highest in the Arab region.2095 In 1998, the gross primary enrollment rate was 110.3 percent, (112.7 percent for boys and 107.8 percent for girls), and the net primary enrollment rate was 77.9 percent (79.2 percent for boys and 76.6 percent for girls).2096 Attendance rates are not available for Lebanon. While enrollment rates indicate a level of commitment to education, they do not always reflect children's participation in school.2097

The progress in education is due in part to the high number of private schools in Lebanon.2098 Notwithstanding this progress, child labor negatively affects the education of working children in Lebanon.2099 Although the majority of the children working in tobacco cultivation, for instance, enroll in elementary school, work-related absenteeism negatively affects these children and contributes to the high dropout rate, occurring before they reach the secondary level.2100 Approximately 38 percent of working children are illiterate or have been forced to abandon primary education entirely.2101

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

The Labor Code of 1996 established the minimum age for employment at 14 years.2102 It is illegal to employ a child under the age of 15 in industrial enterprises that are harmful or detrimental to their health, or to hire youth below the age of 16 in dangerous environments that threaten their life, health or morals.2103 A 1999 amendment to the Code forbids the employment of children under the age of 18 for more than six hours per day. The amendment also requires a thirteen-hour period of rest between workdays.2104 In addition, children must be given an hour break after a four-hour period of labor. An employer may not work children between the hours of 7 p.m. and 7 a.m. Adolescents ages 14 to 17 must pass a medical examination to ensure that they can undertake the work for which they are to be engaged, and the prospective employer must request the child's identity card to verify his/her age.2105 The Ministry of Labor is responsible for the enforcement of child labor laws, but lacks adequate resources to be effective.2106 The ministry has 75 inspectors and assistant inspectors.2107

The Government of Lebanon has not ratified ILO Convention 138, but ratified ILO Convention 182 on September 11, 2001.2108


2079 ILO-IPEC, All About IPEC: Programme Countries, [online] [cited August 13, 2002]; available from http://www.ilo.org/public/english/standards/ipec/about/countries/t_country.htm.

2080 UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Second Periodic Reports of States Parties due in 1998, CRC/C/70/
Add.8, pursuant to Article 44 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, Addendum: Lebanon, Geneva, September
2000, 54.2081 Government of Lebanon, Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey 2: Lebanon, UNICEF, 2000, [cited August 14, 2002];
available from http://www.ucw-project.org./resources/index.html.

2082 Ibid.

2083 ILO-IPEC, Lebanon: Child Labour on Tobacco Plantations: A Rapid Assessment, Geneva, 2002, 9.

2084 Ibid., viii.2085 Ibid., 9.

2086 Ibid. For a further breakdown on child labor in specified sectors, see UN Committee on the Rights of the Child,
Second Periodic Reports of States Parties, Addendum: Lebanon, 125-26.

2087 UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Second Periodic Reports of States Parties, Addendum: Lebanon, 118.

2088 Central Administration of Statistics, Living Conditions in 1997, 1997 quoted in ILO-IPEC, Child Labour on Tobacco Plantations: A Rapid Assessment, viii and 7. Child workers who have been registered with the government constitute the official figures of "registered" children. These official figures suggest 2.8 percent of children aged 10 to 14 were economically active (5 percent of boys and 0.4 percent of girls in this age group), while 21.6 percent of children aged 15 to 19 were active (36.6 percent of boys and 5.8 percent of girls in this age group). Unofficial numbers of economically active children are almost certainly higher, see ILO-IPEC, Child Labour on Tobacco Plantations: A Rapid Assessment, 8.

2089 Government of Lebanon, Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey 2: Lebanon. More specific figures on gender disparities in paid and unpaid child labor can be found at UNICEF, Preliminary Report on the Multiple Cluster Survey on the Situation of Children in Lebanon, February 2001, 10-11 [cited August 14, 2002]; available from http://childinfo.org/MICS2/newreports/lebanon/lebanon.pdf. Illegal and unregistered child labor overlap and are not included in official figures. The MICS2 survey included a broader study to include these sectors. Child labor below the legal age limit is, for instance, included in the MICS2 survey. Domestic labor is a sector that involves illegal and unregistered labor. See UNICEF, Preliminary Report on the Multiple Cluster Survey, 3, 10-11.

2090 ILO-IPEC, Child Labour on Tobacco Plantations: A Rapid Assessment, 8.

2091 The most widely cited reason for children engaging in child labor was economic need. Ibid., viii, 7 and 8.

2092 Ibid., viii.

2093 Government of Lebanon, Decree No. 686, New Article 49, as cited in UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Second Periodic Reports of States Parties, Addendum: Lebanon, 60.

2094 Lebanon has a unique education system made up of government and private institutions, to which the government pays partial fees. The figure above refers to the average costs of government primary education as cited in the table under paragraph 199. For an overall discussion, see Ibid., Section 5.2. See also William A. Rugh, "Arab Education: Tradition, Growth and Reform," Middle East Journal Vol. 56 No. 3 (2002), 402. See also United Nations Development Programme, Arab Human Development Report 2002, Arab Fund For Economic and Social Development, New York, 2002, 55 [cited August 14, 2002]; available from http://www.undp.org/rbas/ahdr/CompleteEnglish.pdf. For currency conversion see FX Converter, [online] [cited August 13, 2002]; available from http://www.oanda.com/ convert/classic. The conversion rate was based on August 1997 figures, the same year the estimates of education costs were calculated.

2095 United Nations Development Programme, Arab Human Development Report 2002, 55. See also Rugh, "Arab Education: Tradition, Growth and Reform," 402. Although Rugh insists that Lebanon is the only Arab country in which private spending on education is three times government spending, it should be pointed out that the government subsidizes private schools at all levels. See UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Second Periodic Reports of States Parties, Addendum: Lebanon, 60-61. Rugh is drawing on figures from a World Bank report from 1998 and may, subsequently, overlook this fact. See also World Bank, Education in the Middle East and North Africa: A Strategy Towards Learning for Development, 21589, Washington, D.C., 1999, [cited August 14, 2002]; available from http://www-wds.worldbank.org/servlet/WDSContentServer/WDSP/IB/2001/01/20/000094946_01010905322286/Rendered/ PDF/multi_page.pdf.

2096 World Bank, World Development Indicators 2002 [CD-ROM], Washington, D.C., 2002.

2097 For a more detailed discussion on the relationship between education statistics and work, see the preface to this report.

2098 United Nations Development Programme, Arab Human Development Report 2002, 55. See also Rugh, "Arab Education: Tradition, Growth and Reform," 402.

2099 It should be pointed out that Syrian and Palestinian children are involved in child labor in Lebanon. See for example, UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Second Periodic Reports of States Parties, Addendum: Lebanon, 127.

2100 ILO-IPEC, Child Labour on Tobacco Plantations: A Rapid Assessment, viii.

2101 Ibid., 9.

2102 Government of Lebanon, Loi du septembre 1946, Code du Travail, (modified 1996), Title 1, Chapter 2, Article 22, [cited August 15, 2002]; available from http://natlex.ilo.org/txt/F93LBN01.htm#t1c2. The law of 1946 was modified in December of 1993 and again in July of 1996.

2103 Ibid., 2:23 and Annex One. This annex lists the hazardous forms of labor mentioned in articles 22, 23, (referring to children) and 27 (referring to women). These types of work include underground mines and quarries, manufacturing of alcohol, chemicals, explosives, asphalt, work in tanneries or with machinery. For a complete list, see Annex One.

2104 Government of Lebanon, Law 91, Code du Travail (1999), Article 23, [cited August 15, 2002]; available from http:/ /natlex.ilo.org/scripts/natlexcgi.exe?lang=E.

2105 In addition, Article 30 states that employers, parents, and guardians are legally responsible for adherence to these child labor laws. Code du Travail, (modified 1996), 2: 22-24.

2106 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – 2001: Lebanon, Washington, D.C., March 4, 2002, 2190-91, Section 6d [cited January 2, 2003]; available from http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2001/nea/ 8270.htm. See also U.S. Embassy – Beirut, unclassified telegram no. 3532, September 2000.

2107 U.S. Department of State official, electronic communication to USDOL official, February 2003.

2108 ILO, Ratifications by Country, in ILOLEX, [database online] [cited December 3, 2002]; available from http://ilolex.ilo.ch:1567/english/newratframeE.htm.

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