The adoption of international labour standards was for a long time the principal

means used by the ILO to combat child labour. The ILO’s standard-setting activities

on child labour, which began with the creation of the ILO in 1919, reflect the

conviction of ILO Member States that childhood is a period of life, which should

not be devoted to work, but to the physical and mental development of children and

their education. Action to combat the economic exploitation of children began at the

international level with the adoption of the Minimum Age (Industry) Convention,

1919 (No. 5) by representatives of governments and of employers’ and workers’

organizations at the very first session of the ILC in 1919. In the years that followed,

the concept of minimum age for admission to employment was extended to different

economic sectors. Between 1919 and 1972, the Conference adopted or revised

ten Conventions and four Recommendations on the minimum age for admission

to employment or work in various sectors.2 Moreover, three Conventions and two

Recommendations on the night work of young persons, as well as four Conventions

and the conditions of work of children and young persons were also adopted by the