top of page



The global Music Against Child Labour Initiative (MACLI) was launched in 2013 by the International Labour Organization (ILO), Jeunesses Musicales International (JMI), the International Federation of Musician (FIM), the Simon Bolivar Music Foundation “El Sistema” and a host of international music figures.

Once a year we call on musicians, bands, ensembles, orchestras and choirs to dedicate concerts and songs to the fight against child labour, leading up to the 12th of June (World Day Against Child Labour). ​Through the Music Initiative, musicians are also asked to compose songs for the cause, helping spread the message beyond the political context. By doing so we are raising awareness around one of the most important issues of our time and reaching audiences otherwise not reached.

The MACLI also advocates for the strengthening of quality music education as a means to protect children from child labour by engaging socially excluded children and by making schools more attractive and retentive.


The International Labour Organization (ILO) is the United Nations agency for the world of work. It sets international labour standards, promotes rights at work and encourages decent employment opportunities, the enhancement of social protection and the strengthening of dialogue on work-related issues.


The ILO defines “child labour” as work that deprives children of their childhood, their potential and their dignity, and that is harmful to their physical and mental development.

It refers to work that is mentally, physically, socially or morally dangerous and harmful to children; and interferes with their schooling by depriving them of the opportunity to attend school; obliging them to leave school prematurely, or requiring them to attempt to combine school attendance with excessively long and heavy work.

In its most extreme forms, child labour involves children being enslaved, separated from their families, exposed to serious hazards and illnesses and/or left to fend for themselves on the streets of large cities – often at a very early age.



Children between the ages of 5 & 17 across the world are in child labour. Deprived of childhood and education, many without proper nutrition or care.



Children are in hazardous work, one of the worst forms of child labour. Other forms include slavery, drug trafficking and prostitution, as well as involvement in armed conflict.


of Children

between 5 and 17 years are in child labour.

JM International

The world's largest music network outreaching 6,000,000 young people and children across 65 different countries to make a difference through music!

Supported by

BELSPO_logo black.png

International Labour Organization

The International Labour Organization (ILO) is the United Nations agency for the world of work. It sets international labour standards, promotes rights at work and encourages decent employment opportunities, the enhancement of social protection and the strengthening of dialogue on work-related issues.

fim logo.jpg

International Musicians Federation

The International Federation of Musicians, founded in 1948, is the international organization for musicians’ unions and equivalent representative organizations. It is now counting about 70 members in 60 countries throughout the world.

Music Against Child Labour
A Manifesto

All children have the right to their childhood: to learn, to play and to grow in safety. Yet, today, 152 million girls and boys are still trapped in child labour, 73 million in its worst forms – forced labour, commercial sexual exploitation, illicit activities or hazardous work. Many are deprived of education.


Work, including the work of musicians, is a transformative force in society and the world of music is a valuable partner in the worldwide movement against child labour. Music can strike a powerful chord against child labour and for social justice, raising public awareness and inspiring people to act.


Music alone cannot defeat child labour, but it can contribute to combating the suffering of children robbed of their rights and of the chance to fulfil their potential. Engaging girls and boys in collective musical activity can support their withdrawal and protection from child labour and assist in building their skills and self-esteem. Access to musical and other creative education makes schools more attractive to children and helps to ensure they continue their education and are protected from risk.


We – conductors, musicians and soloists, youth musicians and trade unionists in the world of music, with the International Labour Organization (ILO) – are calling on conductors, orchestras, choirs and musicians of all genres, worldwide – adult and youth, professional and amateur – to dedicate a concert or a song to this Music against Child Labour Initiative. Music – in all its forms– is a universal language. Although we sing in every tongue, it also expresses emotions we cannot say in words. It links us all. Together, the world of music can raise its voice and instruments against child labour. Join us in telling audiences and the world that child labour must not be tolerated, that children have a right to play and learn. Join our "call to batons". Join the Music against Child Labour Initiative.

Join us in showing the Red Card to Child Labour!


This Initiative is supported by the following founders: the late Claudio Abbado; José-Antonio Abreu; Alessio Allegrini, Founder, Musicians for Human Rights; Daniel Barenboim; Pilar Jurado; Benoît Machuel, General Secretary, International Federation of Musicians (FIM); Diego Matheuz; Rodolfo Mederos; Eduardo Mendez, Executive Director, Fundación Musical Simón Bolívar, El Sistema; Antonio Mosca, Director, Suzuki Orchestra, Turin; Guy Ryder, Director-General, International Labour Organization; Blasko Smilevski, General Secretary, Jeunesses MusicalesInternational.

This appeal was launched at the Salle Pleyel in Paris on 11 June 2013 by the signatories above. The Global Concert series in support of the Initiative began in Brasilia in October 2013 at the III Global Conference on Child Labour.

The Manifesto was updated in 2017 to take account of the latest ILO Global Estimates of child labour.


The ILO and its International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour and Forced Labour, the world's largest programme against child labour, thank the conductors, orchestras, musicians' trade union organizations and youth networks supporting this campaign, and the Salle Pleyel and Piano 4 Etoiles for their cooperation in its launch.


For further information about the ILO Music against Child Labour Initiative please contact: or go to:

bottom of page