The International Labour Organisation (ILO) defines “child labour” as work that deprives children of their childhood, their potential and their dignity, and that is harmful to 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

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, 168 million girls and boys are still trapped in child labour, 85 million in its worst forms – slavery, 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, between October 2013 and the end of 2017, one concert in their planned repertoire 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, JM International.


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 will begin in Brasilia in October 2013 at the III Global Conference on Child Labour.


The ILO and its International Programme on the Elimination of Child 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: IPEC@ilo.org or go to: http://www.ilo.org/ipec/Campaignandadvocacy/MusicInitiative.


The global Music Against Child Labour Initiative was launched in 2013 and brings together key partners in the world of music - famous conductors, musicians, musicians' organizations and music education bodies  - and the ILO, through its International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour.

Once a year we call on musicians to dedicate a concert between the 12th of May and 12th of June (World Day Against Child Labour) to the fight.

Through the campaign musicians are also asked to compose songs for the cause, helping spread the message beyond the politcal context.




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



Children are exposed to the worst forms of child labour such as slavery, work in hazardous environments, 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


International Labour Organisation

The International Labour Organization is a United Nations agency whose mandate is to advance social justice and promote decent work by setting international labour standards. It was the first specialised agency of the UN.


International Musicians Federation

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


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