Principle 1

ALL BUSINESS SHOULD: Meet their responsibility to respect children’s rights and commit to supporting the human rights of children

“Do not take advantage of us, we ask you to be responsible. Do not support us because you feel pity for us; instead support us because we deserve it. We purchase your products and services, but we ask you to invest in our development. We do not want gifts; we want you to be responsible.”

Young person in Peru, ‘Children’s Participation in CSR’, 2010, Save the Children.

Actions for all business includes:

  1. Recognizing the core principles underpinning children’s rights
    The Convention on the Rights of the Child outlines basic entitlements and freedoms that apply to all children without discrimination, and has four core principles that should underpin any action concerning children, whether taken by governments, parents, communities or the private sector. These four core principles are: the best interests of the child; non-discrimination; child participation; and survival and development.
  2. Meeting the responsibility to respect children’s rights
    This requires avoiding the infringement of children’s rights and addressing any adverse impact on children’s rights with which the business is involved. The corporate responsibility to respect applies to the business’s own activities and to its business relationships, including but not limited to those activities and relationships identified in subsequent Principles. In order to meet this responsibility, all business should put in place appropriate policies and processes, as set out in the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights endorsed by the United Nations Human Rights Council.[1]
    These include:

    1. 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 children’s rights.RS47349_Children_playing_in_front_of_their_house_in_Shatilla
    2. 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 impact is addressed. Human rights due diligence should cover any 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 an 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. The business should consider using tools such as performance contracts and reviews, surveys and audits (self-assessments or independent audits) on a periodic basis.
      • Be prepared to communicate externally on their efforts to address the business impact on children’s rights in a form and with the 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.
    3. Child-sensitive processes to enable remediation: the processes to enable remediation of any adverse impact on children’s rights that the business causes or contributes to. 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.
  3. Making a commitment to support the human rights of children
    In addition to respecting children’s rights, business can have a significant role in supporting children’s rights throughout their activities and business relationships. This may be through core business activities, strategic social investments and philanthropy, advocacy and public policy engagement, and working in partnership or other collective action. Opportunities to support children’s rights will often be identified through a business enterprise’s human rights due diligence processes, including through consultation with children and their families, as well as with appropriate experts in children’s rights. Voluntary action in support of children’s rights must be in addition to and not a substitute for action taken to respect children’s rights, and should be guided by the core principles of child rights.
  4. Becoming a champion for children’s rights
    Business is encouraged to promote children’s rights, these Principles and related best business practices, including among suppliers, business partners and peers.
GOOD PRACTICE: Establishing an accessible grievance channel
An international apparel company worked with a children and women’s rights non-governmental organization (NGO) to set up a grievance access point for local supplier factories in Bangladesh. The NGO had particular expertise working with women and children, and provided a trusted access point to which workers could bring their grievances. It provided an alternative, secure channel that workers could use to contact the apparel company about workplace issues. The system has already provided valuable feedback from workers, and made it easier for the apparel company to engage the supplier factory in remediation.

[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 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.