Ethical Performance
inside intelligence for responsible business


Children take CSR centre stage in new UN business principles

April 2012

New UN principles specifically covering children's rights have been published for the use and guidance of businesses worldwide.

The Children's Rights & Business Principles, jointly drawn up by Unicef, the UN Global Compact and Save the Children, is the first part of what the Compact terms "a call on business to step up their efforts to respect and support children's rights in the workplace, marketplace and community".

The document, modelled on the Compact's ten principles, outlines actions required on a broad range of issues from child labour to responsible marketing, and gives detailed advice on how to implement such action through due diligence, remediation, risk management, policy commitments and other measures.

To observe the need to respect and support children's rights, for example, the document recommends that companies establish: a policy explicitly recognising the core principles underpinning children's rights, produced by their most senior executives; a fully integrated, monitored and transparent due diligence process; child-specific and accessible remediation processes; and a commitment to support children's human rights through other business activities.

The principles aim to inform governments in their engagement with business, and vice versa, outlining the role of companies in working with the international community on children's rights and living standards.

They result from a global multi-stakeholder consultation in which hundreds of business leaders participated and will promote multi-stakeholder collaboration. Ban Ki-moon, the UN Secretary-General, said: "I call on business leaders everywhere to embrace the spirit of the principles. Businesses increasingly recognise their responsibility to respect the rights of the youngest members of our society.

"In addition, many businesses are committed to supporting children and working with governments and civil society to advance children's rights. But when it comes to children, we all need to do more."
Georg Kell, Compact executive director, said: "The Children's Rights & Business Principles are a much-needed call to action for business to get serious about children's rights.

"They underscore the potential for positive action that can create value for children, communities and business alike."

The principles
All businesses should:

  1. Respect children's rights and commit to supporting the human rights of children
  2. Contribute to the elimination of child labour, including in all business activities and business relationships
  3. Provide decent work for young workers, parents and caregivers
  4. Ensure the protection and safety of children in all business activities
  5. Ensure products and services are safe, and seek to support children's rights through them
  6. Use marketing and advertising that respect and support children's rights
  7. Respect and support children's rights in relation to the environment and to land acquisition and use
  8. Respect and support children's rights in security arrangements
  9. Help protect children affected by emergencies
  10. Reinforce community and government efforts to protect and fulfil children's rights

United Nations | Global | Human rights

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