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                     Office of the Press Secretary
                          (Chicago, Illinois)
For Immediate Release                                   November 5, 1999


I am pleased that the Senate has given its consent to ratification of the Convention on the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labor. In June, I traveled to Geneva for the annual meeting of the International Labor Organization (ILO), where the business, labor, and government representatives to the ILO from countries around the world unanimously adopted this historic Convention.

With this action, the Senate has declared on behalf of the American people that we simply will not tolerate the worst forms of child labor -- child slavery, the sale or trafficking of children, child prostitution or pornography, forced or compulsory child labor and hazardous work that harms the health, safety and morals of children. With this action, the United States continues as a world leader in the fight to eliminate exploitative and abusive child labor. This also is another important step forward in our continuing efforts to put a human face on the global economy.

I am particularly gratified by the bipartisan unanimity that carried this Convention through the Senate from introduction to final approval. For this, I offer my sincere thanks to Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jesse Helms, Ranking Member Joe Biden, and especially Senator Tom Harkin, who has been America's leading advocate for the world's laboring children. I also want to make note of the special efforts of the U.S. representatives to the ILO: John Sweeney of the AFL-CIO, Thomas Niles of the United States Council for International Business, and Labor Secretary Alexis Herman. They worked as a superb team in negotiating a convention that should be widely ratified throughout the world. Such bipartisan support and the coordinated efforts of labor, business, and government are key to building a new consensus on our approach to international economic policy.