2nd World Congress on Family Law and Children’s Rights

San Francisco 1997

  • The Second World Congress was held in San Francisco in June 1997.
  • It was held in conjunction with the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts.
  • It was honoured by having as its Honorary Chair, Hillary Rodham Clinton, the then First Lady of the United States and an ardent campaigner and advocate for the rights of children.
  • Over 1600 registrants from more than 50 nations around the world attended.
  • Associated with it was a Youth Forum which contributed to the discussions.

In its final communiqué it reiterated steps to be taken to protect children from armed conflict and organized violence, access by children to health facilities and representation for the enforced removal of children from indigenous communities. The Youth Forum called for action against the exploitation of children.

The Congress noted that a number of steps had been taken to seek to redress the evil of exploitative child labor. There had however been, regrettably at that time, little action on the part of States in ratifying the ILO convention on children in work. It proposed that a new convention be established to deal with the worst forms of child exploitative labour. It was thought that such a convention would attract a greater enthusiasm for adoption and implementation particularly in countries where children worked in familial undertakings such as agrarian labour. The move was controversial but a convention was subsequently drawn and has been signed.

More needs to be done to create an international accord on the adoption and implementation of that convention.

As an initiative, the Congress raised with multi-national corporations the issue of adoption of voluntary codes of conduct in the employment and treatment of children not only in their respective enterprises, but in enterprises supplying their manufacturing. The Congress sought to encourage this form of self-regulation and its work continues on this task.

In our subsequent the Fourth World Congress in Cape Town, it was reported that substantial progress was being made in this field.

The Second Congress was able to devote certain funds towards the building of two schools in Central America and a community farming plot for Central American women whose husbands were some thousands of kilometers away, working in mines.

The Congress also urged individual States within the United States of America to consider adopting in principle UNCROC, as their country had not done so at a Federal level.