RugMark is working to end illegal child labor in the carpet industry and to offer educational opportunities to children in South Asia.

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Child Labor Laws

The international community has fought the practice of child labor for the past four decades. National and international laws make the use of child labor a crime. Nonetheless, enforcement is elusive, which is why RugMark has increased its efforts to end child labor in the South Asian handmade carpet industry where child labor is prevalent.

Following is a list of laws crafted to eliminate the practice of child labor.


Minimum Age Convention 138 (C138), 1973

Adopted by the International Labor Organization (ILO) in 1973, C138 binds ratifying countries to pursue a national policy for the abolition of child labor and to progressively raise the minimum age for employment or work to a level consistent with the fullest physical and mental development of young persons. This minimum age should be 15 years, or the age reached by the completion of compulsory schooling. According to the convention, the minimum age for work that is likely to jeopardize the health, safety or morals of young persons is 18. To date, 144 countries have ratified C138, including Nepal in 1997. India and Pakistan are yet to ratify Convention 138. To learn more about C138,

The Convention on the Rights of the Child is the first legally binding international instrument to incorporate the full range of human rights for children, including civil and political rights as well as economic, social and cultural. Article 32 states that children have the right to be protected from economic exploitation and from performing any work that is likely to be hazardous or to interfere with the child's education, or to be harmful to the child's health or physical, mental, spiritual, moral or social development. The Convention is the most universally accepted human rights instrument in history and has been ratified by 192 countries–– every country in the world except two, the United States and Somalia. Click here to learn more about the CRC.

Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention 182 (C182), 1999

On June 17, 1999 the ILO adopted Convention 182, which calls for immediate and effective measures to prohibit and eliminate the worst forms of child labor. “Child” applies to all persons under the age of 18. “The worst forms of child labor” refers to child slavery, forced labor, trafficking, debt bondage, serfdom, prostitution, pornography, and forms of work that harm the health, safety or morals of children. To date, 160 countries ratified ILO Convention 182 including Pakistan in 2001 and Nepal in 2002. India is yet to ratify Convention 182. To learn about C182, .


The Sanders Amendment to the U.S. Tariff Act of 1930

The Tariff Act of 1930 prohibits the importation of products made with “forced or indentured labor” into the U.S. In 1997 the Sanders Amendment clarified that this applies to products made with “forced or indentured child labor.”

The Generalized System of Preferences (GSP)

Enacted in 1974, the GSP program authorizes approximately 4,284 products from 140 developing countries, including India, Nepal and Pakistan, to enter the U.S. market duty-free. In 1984 new provisions took away U.S. trade preferences from countries that systematically deny internationally recognized workers' rights. These rights include: freedom of association; the right to organize and bargain collectively; a prohibition of any form of forced or compulsory labor; and acceptable conditions of work with respect to minimum wages, hours of work, and occupational safety and health. 

Trade and Development Act of 2000

This Act, signed into law in May 2000, affords special trade benefits to Sub-Saharan Africa and the Caribbean Basin countries. Section 411 clarifies that the ban on articles made with forced and/or indentured labor under the Trade Act of 1930 now includes goods made with forced and/or indentured child labor. Section 412, worst forms of child labor, denies U.S. trade preferences to countries that fail to meet and effectively enforce the standards established by ILO C182. 

RugMark is currently the only certification program established to assure that carpets were not made with illegal child labor in India, Nepal or Pakistan.