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Mining is a notoriously dangerous job. Tunnels can collapse, explosions and falling rocks are common, and the air is often filled with dust or even toxic gases. While the world breathed a collective sigh of relief when the 33 Chilean miners were rescued in 2010, around 12,000 people die in similar accidents each year.
So why do we let so many children do it -- in 2014?
Mining falls squarely within the definition of "hazardous work," as defined by the International Labour Organization (ILO). According to the ILO, there are 168 million child laborers worldwide, including 85 million in jobs that directly endanger their health and safety. In countries around the world, kids work in gold mines, salt mines, and stone quarries -- while millions more toil in fields, factories, or construction sites.
As noted in the first post in our series last week, November 20th marks the 25th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), a landmark U.N. agreement that laid the foundation for strengthening children's rights around the world. Among other fundamental rights, the CRC recognizes "the right of the child to be protected...from performing any work that is likely to be hazardous" and explicitly calls on ratifying countries to take legislative measures to ensure implementation of these rights. Yet a quarter century later, how much progress has the world really made toward ending child labor and shielding children from dangerous work conditions?