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The Foundation for International Research on Working Children (IREWOC) was established in 1992 to conduct anthropological qualitative research on child labour, to raise awareness and influence policy concerning this complex issue.

IREWOC research takes a child-centred and holistic approach, exploring children’s own views and opinions within the wider context of poverty and unequal development. Its normative framework is based on established international agreements, particularly the ILO Conventions 138 and 182, and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

IREWOC responds to the ever-increasing demand for policy-relevant knowledge. Research is conducted in close collaboration with governmental and non-governmental organisations active in the field of child labour. Working directly with policy makers is the most effective way to close the gap between scientific research and policy design.

IREWOC research is funded by a host of Dutch and international NGOs and Dutch Ministries. These contacts, and IREWOC’s membership to multiple theme-based discussion platforms, greatly help to improve the child labour project.


Core Activities

IREWOC conducts research on child labour issues on a global scale. It is unique in its use of anthropological qualitative research methods, providing in-depth knowledge of local perceptions, reasoning and opinions. Research projects in the past have focussed on Education, Child Trafficking, Child Labour Unions, Worst Forms, Child Agency and Rural Child Labour. More information can be found on our research page.

IREWOC research also involves a project impact analysis, whereby the activities and outcomes of existing projects on a local level are evaluated and assessed for their best practices.

IREWOC has established a working relationship with various educational institutions and scholars across the world and plays an active role in Child Rights education at the University of Amsterdam, where international students are groomed as future advocates of the rights of the child.

IREWOC has developed a Research Training Workshop agenda to educate young scholars in developing countries in the methods of conducting child-centred research. Workshops have, to date, taken place in Indonesia, Bangladesh, Ethiopia and Kenya, and have directly led to a number of research projects by local graduates. More information about the workshops can be found on our events page.

IREWOC presents its research findings to the local research population; to academic researchers; to local, national and international NGOs and Ministerial policy makers; and to all other parties concerned with the child labour phenomenon. IREWOC invites and welcomes all feedback from these groups and individuals, and incorporates any new information into its reports.


The daily management of IREWOC is in the hands of the Director. Overall policy matters are supervised by the Board, with Professor emeritus Jan Breman as its chairman and Frits Brok as treasurer. The remaining members are Stan Meuwese, Frans Röselaers, Elise van Nederveen Meerkerk and Thijs Beelen.

Advisory Board:
The members of the scientific advisory committee are: Professor Jaap Doek, Professor Lex Heerma van Voss, Professor Annemiek Richters, Professor Paul van der Heijden, and Professor Jan Pronk.




Key Outcomes

Detailed country reports are produced for each individual research project. These are often accompanied by summary reports, which integrate the country reports into one easy-to-access project document. Research has taken place in a multitude of Asian, African and South American countries.  

IREWOC researchers regularly publish thematic articles through various web-based and hardcopy media.

IREWOC delivers its policy-relevant knowledge directly to the parties concerned, through presentations, workshops and conferences.

All IREWOC reports and other publications can be found on the publications page.


Staff and Location

IREWOC Director Kristoffel Lieten is the Professor of Child Labour Studies at the University of Amsterdam and the International Institute of Social History. The IREWOC researchers are anthropologists and development sociologists, all with their own individual regional expertise.

IREWOC is located in the Child Rights Home; a national and international centre for information, communication and education about children's rights, based in Leiden, The Netherlands. See our contact page for the full details.

Currently, the following staff members are working on different projects, either at the IREWOC office or in the field:


IREWOC www.irewoc.nl