On 24 June 2010, UNICEF, the UN Global Compact and Save the Children launched a process to develop a set of Principles offering concrete guidance on what business can do to respect and support children’s rights. The process to develop a set of Principles was inspired by the international community’s call on all societal actors, including the private sector, to join a global movement to help bring about a world fit for children.
The development of the Principles was informed by Advisory Groups, open consultations, desk research, interviews and surveys. The key components of the research strategy were: a literature review, business case studies & lessons-learned, thematic overview of the ways that business impacts (positively and negatively) children’s rights, review of how children’s rights are addressed in selected companies’ human rights policies and practices, mapping the role of National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) in children’s rights and business, identifying countries that have played a leadership role on business and children; and, a review of governments’ role in engaging with business on children’s rights.
Advisory Groups contributing to the Initiative included Internal Reference Groups from UNICEF and Save the Children and an external Expert Reference Group (ERG). The views of Global Compact Local Networks were also sought throughout the process. The ERG contributed independent, objective feedback on the development of the Principles and provided thought leadership throughout the process. The group was comprised of individuals from the North and the South with extensive experience in human rights, child rights, corporate responsibility, international business, international development, finance, policy and/or related issues.
From April through July 2011, more than 600 business leaders, civil society and government representatives, key experts and children participated in face-to-face meetings that took place in 10 cities (New York, London, Copenhagen, Dubai, Shanghai, Beijing, Nairobi, Buenos Aires, Istanbul, Geneva), or through online consultations. An online feedback channel was launched by the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre. Government representatives also participated in a briefing and consultation session at UN Headquarters in June 2011, discussing the role of government in supporting and using the Principles. Additionally, several thousand people were reached through the initiative’s efforts to build awareness of the Principles in advance of their official release including through the Global Compact’s monthly bulletin and website. The overall feedback was positive, reaffirming the value of the initiative, while also providing many valuable suggestions.
A Child Participation Strategy was developed by Save the Children and Plan International to ensure that children were respected as equal stakeholders in the initiative and that minimum standards for children’s ethical participation were met. The Strategy supported children’s participation in the development and implementation of the Principles, built the capacity of children and adolescents to engage with business and understand business’ responsibility to respect and support children’s rights.
From June-August 2011, Save the Children, Plan International, UNICEF and other partner organizations supported consultations with over 400 children in nine countries: Brazil, Argentina, Philippines, Zambia, Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Senegal, Paraguay and Peru. Young people ages 7-17 were asked to review a set of draft Principles and to also share their perspectives about how business affects their lives, families and communities.