The primary duty for protecting and fulfilling children’s rights lies with the state. While the Principles are specifically aimed at businesses, they are also a resource for engaging with governments and other societal actors on the enabling environment in which businesses operate. In addition to their duties to respect and fulfil children’s rights, the role of governments includes protecting children from abuses of their rights by third parties, including by businesses. Reinforcing their regulatory authority, governments also have a range of soft power options available to them to encourage business to take action to respect and support children’s rights. Incentives and disincentives that governments put in place shape the operating environment for business, making implementation of the Principles easier or more challenging. The sponsoring organizations developed the Principles as a complement to and not substitute for government action on children’s rights. The Principles themselves also call on business to help support governments in their efforts to respect, protect and fulfil children’s rights. In this spirit, the Principles are offered as an input to processes such as the work of the Committee on the Rights of the Child to elaborate a General Comment on the rights of the child and the business sector. The sponsoring organizations look forward to continuing to work with governments in connection with the Principles.
Complimentary to states’ obligations and regardless of whether states are meeting them, businesses everywhere have a responsibility to respect children’s rights including to avoid complicity in abuses. This requires proactive efforts on the part of business to identify and address its potential and actual impacts on children. This responsibility applies to a business’ own actions as well as to others connected to those activities, such as suppliers or other business partners.
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