Switzerland has ratified the International Labour Organisation's convention which condemns the worst forms of child labour. The move coincides with the United Nations Social Summit which is underway in the world's humanitarian capital, Geneva.
The economics minister, Pascal Couchepin, handed over the instruments of ratification to the director of the Geneva-based ILO, Juan Somavia, in the presence of 200 children. The officials then launched one thousand balloons into the air to celebrate Switzerland's accession to the convention.
Prostitution, forced labour, illegal trafficking in children, recruitment of children for the military and dangerous working conditions constitute the worst forms of child labour. In 1999, the ILO unanimously voted to adopt the convention.
With the ratification, Switzerland has fulfilled one of the key demands of the draft final declaration being negotiated at the Social Summit. The declaration calls for all states to adopt conventions governing fundamental working norms, including the ILO convention.
The economics ministry said that "Switzerland has shown its solidarity with the fight against child labour", a battle that could be won through cooperation and fostering social development.
The Social Summit is currently looking at ways to lift more than half of the world's population out of dire poverty. Switzerland is hosting the event with the aim of reconciling globalisation with social development.
swissinfo with agencies