With the exception of child/children and business, the following defined terms are italicized throughout the Principles.

best interests of the child – one of the four core principles in the Convention on the Rights of the Child, this applies to all actions and decisions concerning children and calls for active measures to respect their rights and promote their survival, growth and well-being as children, as well as measures to support and assist parents and others who have day-to-day responsibility for realizing children’s rights.

business – a for-profit enterprise.

business relationship –those relationships a business has with business partners, entities in its value chain, and any other State or non-state (government or non-governmental)entity directly linked to its business operations, products or services. This includes indirect business relationships in an enterprise’s value chain, beyond the first tier, as well as majority and minority shareholding positions in joint ventures.

child labour – work that deprives children of their childhood, their potential and their dignity, and that is harmful to physical and mental development. This includes work that is mentally, physically, socially or morally dangerous and harmful to children; work that interferes with their schooling; and engaging in work children who are under the minimum working age(s) set by national legislation or international standards. No child under 18 years old should be engaged in hazardous work (i.e. work that is likely to harm their health, safety or morals) or other worst forms of child labour such as trafficking, sexual exploitation, debt bondage, forced labour and the recruitment or use of underage children for security or military purposes. This also involves focus on the gender dimensions of child labour in light of the more likely engagement of girls in activities such as domestic work and sexual exploitation. For further elaboration, see the International Labour Organization (ILO) Conventions No. 182 on the Worst Forms of Child Labour and No. 138 on the Minimum Age, in addition to the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography and the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict.

child participation – one of the four core principles of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, this includes processes that encourage and enable children to articulate and convey their views on issues that affect them. It also involves information sharing and dialogue between children and adults based on mutual respect in an environment that facilitates freedom of expression. Such processes must be authentic, inclusive and meaningful and should take into account the evolving capacities of children and enable them to learn constructive ways to influence the world around them. There should be a commitment to consider children’s opinions – including girls and boys, the most marginalized, the vulnerable, and those of different ages and abilities. Their views should be respected, heard and taken into account in all decisions and actions affecting them. Participation should not be tokenistic and should not exploit children.

child protection code of conduct –a document that sets out the business’s detailed expectations of conduct for individuals within its operations who come into contact with children. The code of conduct implements the business’s zero-tolerance policy on violence, exploitation and abuse. It uses the Convention on the Rights of the Child and its Optional Protocols as its framework and is designed to help protect children from violence, exploitation and abuse.

child or children– article 1 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child defines children as every human being under 18 years old unless, under the law applicable to the child, majority is attained earlier.

decent work – involves opportunities for work that are productive and deliver a fair income. Decent work should provide security in the workplace and social protection for families, rights at work, social dialogue, and better prospects for personal development and social integration. People, including young people of working age, should be free to express their concerns, to organize and to participate in the decisions that affect their lives, and have the right to equality of opportunity and treatment.

emergencies – situations where lives, physical and mental well-being, or development opportunities for children are threatened as a result of armed conflict, widespread violence, epidemics, famine, natural disaster or the breakdown of social or legal order.

human rights due diligence –a business’s ongoing processes for assessing its actual and potential human rights impact, including on children’s rights, integrating and acting upon its findings, tracking its responses and communicating how its impactis addressed, as set out in the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights endorsed by the United Nations Human Rights Council.[1]Human rights due diligence should cover adverse impact that the business may cause or contribute to through its own activities, or which may be directly linked to its operations, products or services by a business relationship. To carry out human rights due diligence, all business should:

  • Identify and assess any actual or potential adverse impact on children’s rights. This should draw on human rights expertise and involve meaningful consultation with children and other potentially affected groups and relevant stakeholders. It should take into account that girls and boys may face different risks.
  • Integrate the findings from their impact assessments across relevant internal functions and processes and take appropriate action (as defined in the Guiding Principles). Where a busi­ness causes or contributes to an adverse impact on children’s rights, or where it may do so, it should take the necessary steps to cease or prevent the activity, or its contribution to it, and use its leverage to mitigate any remaining impact. Where a business is linked to an adverse impact by a business relationship, it should use its leverage and consider other relevant factors in determining the appropriate action to take.
  • Monitor and track the effectiveness of the business’s responses in order to verify whether the adverse impact on children’s rights is being addressed, using appropriate qualitative and quantitative indicators and drawing on feedback from internal and external sources, including affected children, families and other stakeholders.[2]The business should consider using tools such as performance contracts and reviews, surveys and audits (self-assessments or independent audits) on a periodic basis.[3]
  • Be prepared to communicate externally on its efforts to address the impact of business on children’s rights in a form and frequency that reflect such an impact and that is accessible to its intended audiences. The business should provide sufficient information to evaluate the adequacy of its responses. Such communication should not pose risks to affected stakeholders, personnel or to legitimate requirements of commercial confidentiality.

These processes should be appropriate to the business’s size and circumstances and be in alignment with the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

leverage – the ability of a business to effect change in the wrongful practices of the party that is causing or contributing to an adverse impact on human rights. Where a business has leverage to prevent or mitigate an adverse impact on human rights that is directly linked to its operations, products or services by a business relationship, it should use that leverage. If it lacks leverage, there may be ways to increase it, for example, by offering capacity-building or other incentives, or collaborating with other actors. The business should also consider how crucial the relationship is to the business, the severity of the impact, and whether terminating the relationship would have adverse human rights consequences, following the approach set out in Principle 19 of the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

non-discrimination – one of the four core principles enshrined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child, this provides for equal treatment of an individual irrespective of race, colour, sex, language, disability, religion, political or other opinions; national, social or indigenous origin; and property, birth or other status. In short, it means that all children – in all situations, all of the time, everywhere – have the same right to develop to their full potential.

policy commitment – a statement that sets out the business’s responsibility to respect rights, including children’s rights, as described in the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. A policy commitment should be approved at the most senior level of the business and be informed by relevant expertise. It should stipulate the business’s expectations of personnel, business partners and others directly linked to its operations, products or services. It should be publicly available, communicated internally and externally, and embedded in relevant policies and procedures. It may also include a statement of the business’s commitment to support rights.

remediation – both the processes of providing a remedy for an adverse human rights impact and to the substantive outcomes that can counteract, or make good, the adverse impact. Where a business identifies that it has caused or contributed to an adverse impact on human rights, it should provide for or cooperate in their remediation through legitimate processes, including effective operational level grievance mechanisms or judicial mechanisms, as appropriate. Operational level mechanisms should be accessible to girls and boys, their families and those who represent their interests, and meet the effectiveness criteria for non-judicial grievance mechanisms set out in Principle 31 of the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

survival and development – one of the four core principles in the Convention on the Rights of the Child, this recognizes that there are optimal conditions for childhood. Rights such as social security, health, adequate nutrition and standard of living, a healthy and safe environment, education, leisure and play are all relevant to ensuring the healthy development of each child. Protection from violence and exploitation is also vital to each child’s survival and development.

value chain – a business’ value chain encompasses the activities that convert inputs into outputs by adding value. It includes entities with which the business has a direct or indirect business relationship and which either a) supply products or services that contribute to the business’s own products or services, or b) receive products or services from the business.

young worker –a child who is above the minimum legal working age and engaged in economic activity. It is an age group that is subject to designation as child labour if the work or working conditions are hazardous.

[1]‘Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights: Implementing the United Nations “Protect, Respect and Remedy” Framework’ as annexed to the Re­port of the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises, A/HRC/17/31,United Nations, 21 March 2011, available at Endorsed by the United Nations Human Rights Council in A/HRC/RES/17/4.
[2]When direct consultation with affected stakeholders is not possible for small and medium sized business with limited human rights risks, due to legitimate financial, geographical or other constraints, the business should seek other independent external expert resources and insights offered by organizations or individuals that legitimately convey the perspectives – or likely perspectives – of those who may be affected by the enterprise’s activities or relationships.
[3] Regarding suppliers, in addition to communicating clearly expectations of conduct, steps that business may take also include examples of capacity building efforts and collaborating with other business to increase leverage. For further guidance, see UN Global Compact supply chain sustainability guidance