World Day Against Child Labor
To protect Iraq’s children, we must eradicate the worst forms of child labor

Erbil, Iraq – June 12, 2024: Twenty-five years ago, the International Labour Organization (ILO) adopted Convention No. 182 on the Worst Forms of Child Labour (1999), a key child protection framework and the first ILO Convention to be universally ratified. This international treaty, which was ratified by Iraq in 2001, obligates member states to take urgent measures to eliminate the worst forms of child labor – including the recruitment of children for use in armed conflict.

The recruitment and use of children in armed conflict is not a new phenomenon in Iraq – and yet, Iraq’s children continue to lack fundamental protections against this grave violation. While certain elements of applicable military, labor, and juvenile welfare laws offer limited safeguards, the current legal framework does not explicitly recognize the recruitment and use of children as a criminal offense, and is not sufficient to protect children from exploitation or ensure equitable access to justice, care, and support in the aftermath of harm.

As party to ILO Convention No. 182 on the Worst Forms of Child Labour, the Government of Iraq (GOI) is obligated to take immediate and effective action to prohibit the recruitment and use of children and provide necessary and appropriate assistance to facilitate their rehabilitation and reintegration. The introduction of a draft child protection law in the Iraqi Council of Representatives (COR) in June 2023 afforded a key opportunity for the GOI to fulfill these obligations. To date, however, this important piece of legislation has yet to be enacted, leaving Iraq’s children without desperately needed protection and care.

The adoption of a comprehensive and coherent child protection law is vital to address current deficits, institute adequate safeguards, and enable the achievement of a strong protective environment for Iraq’s children. Today, on World Day Against Child Labor, SEED calls upon the Government of Iraq to act on its commitment to eradicate the worst forms of child labor by urgently finalizing and passing this law, ensuring the integration of provisions that explicitly prohibit the recruitment and use of children and provide needed services and support for those affected. An investment in our children is an investment in our future.


SEED Foundation is a local NGO in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, committed to protecting, empowering, and supporting the recovery of survivors of violence and others at risk. Our approach to this mission is integrative and holistic. We provide quality and comprehensive services, including mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS), legal, protection, and shelter services; training, capacity building, and education for those working to protect and serve survivors; and policy and advocacy to strengthen laws, policies, practices, and protections for vulnerable people, and to promote social change.

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