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Consultation for children and young people - Children's Rights and Business Principles Initiative



Hello and welcome!UNICEF

Thank you for visiting our site.

Ever think about your rights?

Even wonder who is responsible for making sure your rights are respected and supported? Ever wonder if businesses and companies should care more about your rights?

Should they be doing more or less to respect and support your rights?

Right now, there are many different groups, organizations and people asking these same questions. For example UNICEF, Save the Children, Plan International, and even businesses themselves are exploring these issues. These groups are working together to look at how business can better support and respect children’s rights.

One way they are doing this is to create a set of ‘Principles’ or guidelines that businesses can follow.

All over the world, many different groups, including non-governmental organizations, businesses, researchers, governments and more are talking about these issues. Even other groups of children and adolescents are talking about them (for example, young people in India, Brazil, Peru, Zambia, Kenya, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Senegal and other places).

Now is your chance to also have YOUR voice and opinions heard.

Below you can find more information about this project, your opportunities to participate and also a survey where you can share your ideas and thoughts about business.You have until 27 July 2011 to participate in the online survey.

This information is being shared to support you, children and adolescents, to better understand how business affects your lives, families, communities and also your rights.

Here is some of the information you can find: [Español]

Introductions and information about us

The Children’s Rights and Business Principles Initiative (CRBPI for short) is being led by three main organizations:


  • Save the Children

  • United Nations Global Compact

UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence.  UNICEF’s mission is to advocate for the protection of children’s rights, to help meet their basic needs and to expand their opportunities to reach their full potential. UNICEF is guided in doing this by the provisions and principles of the Convention on the Rights of the Child which spells out the basic human rights that children everywhere have: the right to survival; to develop to the fullest; to protection from harmful influences, abuse and exploitation; and to participate fully in family, cultural and social life.

Save the Children is a non-governmental organization and the basis of our work is the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and the United Nations' Declaration on Human Rights.  Save the Children's mission is to inspire breakthroughs in the way the world treats children, and to achieve immediate and lasting change in their lives.

The world would be a better place if children's rights were respected. Many children and young people are treated badly, and sometimes it is difficult for them to make their voices heard. Save the Children wants to give support and encouragement to all children in their fight for their rights.

The United Nations Global Compact was launched in 2000 as a way for the UN to interact with the business community with regards to corporate social responsibility.  It seeks to align business operations and strategies everywhere with ten universally accepted principles in the areas of human rights, labour, environment and anticorruption.

The Compact might be considered a ‘learning network’ for business and is designed to promote ‘responsible corporate citizenship’.  The Compact’s network includes many different companies, groups and organizations.

Along with the three ‘main’ organizations leading the CRBPI, there are many other partners also supporting the initiative, for example: researchers, governments, businesses and other non-governmental organizations such as Plan. Plan is playing a special role, along with Save the Children and UNICEF to support your participation within the CRBPI.

Plan International's vision is of a world in which all children realize their full potential in societies that respect people's rights and dignity. Founded over 70 years ago, Plan is one of the oldest and largest children's development organizations in the world. We work in 48 developing countries across Africa, Asia and the Americas to promote child rights and lift millions of children out of poverty.


Helpful things to know: What are children’s rights? What is children’s participation? What is business?


What are children's rights?


Every child has the same human rights. Some of your human rights have to do with the basic physical needs to stay alive. For example, you have the right to food, water, shelter and basic health care. Some of your human rights have to do with how other people treat you. You have the right to be treated with dignity and respect. Some of your rights have to do with your need to be cared for, to develop and to grow and be part of your communities. You have the right to an education, to express your own ideas and opinions, to information, protection and to participate in making decisions about issues that affect you. You also have the right to not be discriminated against because of who you are or where you come from[1].

All of these rightscan be found in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child

20 November, 1989 the United Nations General Assembly adopted theUN Convention on the Rights of the Child – also known as the CRC.

The CRC sets out the human rights that all children, every boy and girl, everywhere in the world have.

The CRC is the most accepted human rights Convention in history. As of early 2011, it has been ratified by every country except for two (Somalia and the United States of America).

What is Children’s Participation?

Participation IS:

-          the opportunity to be involved in making decisions that affect you

-          being involved in something or playing a part in something

-          having information about things that are important to you and other children

-          being able to have your voice heard

-          having your ideas respected and taken seriously

All girls and boys have the right to participate.

All girls and boys have the right to have their voices heard and taken seriously.

For more information about children’s participation, please click here.

What is business?

Different words/terms can be used when referring to ‘business’, some of these include:

-          Company

-          Private sector

-          Business

-          Corporate

-          Commerce

-          Commercial

Defining business... also known as the ‘Private Sector’

Business (and the Private Sector) includes companies that are not owned by the government (government-owned companies are known as the ‘public sector’). It includes all different kinds of businesses such as: credit card companies; computer companies; travel agents; hotels; banks; media; manufacturing and more.

[1] Adapted from: J. Young, L. Karlsson, Government Committments to Combat Sexual Exploitation of Children - A Report for Adolescents (UNICEF, 2009)


What does business have to do with my rights?

Governments/states have the main duty for respecting, protecting and fulfilling your rights. However; there are many other groups and parts of our community that also have a role to play, including business.

Business has its own responsibility to respect and support children’s rights, for example:

  • Business has to make sure it follows the local/national laws set up by governments to help children, for example: laws relating to health and safety in the workplace, laws about product safety, laws about the minimum age to work; laws about environmental impact; laws about paying taxes; and more…
  • If a business breaks a national law, then it can be fined (forced to pay money) or sometimes face criminal charges


There is an ongoing discussion that business has a wider responsibility to respect children's rights. This means they must make sure they review their impact on children AND take steps to ensure they don't have a negative (or bad) impact. 

Finally, sometimes business may want to support children's rights not because they have to but because they want to, for example: programs where businesses invest in communities.


What do the Children's Rights and Business Principles hope to achieve?

The Principles hope to:


1. Provide a full and complete picture of what being a ‘child-friendly’ business would look like

2. Unite and be point of information for existing and future initiatives (projects) concerning business and children.

3. Raise awareness about the many ways that business affects children, both in good ways and bad ways.

4. To increase partnerships and opportunities for business and community to work together. 

5. Provide the people who are really wanting and trying to make a positive change/difference, with a useful tool, so that they can convince other people that children are indeed a key concern for business

6. Ensure that other groups, such as governments and children themselves, have a clear understanding of the opportunities for working with business.


Why are the Principles needed?

A lot has already been done to explore and address certain issues concerning children and business, for example:  guides, programmes, kits and more have been developed to address child labour and the sexual exploitation of children. But nothing exists to help protect ALL rights children have. Nothing exists to identify all the actions business should take to make sure the workplace, marketplace and community respects and supports children’s rights.

Because business can impact children in many many different ways (good and bad), we need to better understand all the things business is right now doing and what they should be doing to respect and support children’s rights.

We must develop a detailed vision of what business can do and should do to secure our future. Developing a set of Principles will help to focus attention on the relationship between business and children and create better outcomes (results) for children.


How will the Principles be developed?

The Principles will be developed using different ways of collecting information and opinions, for example:


We will do research to better understand what business is already doing (or not doing) to respect and support children’s rights. We will look at what can be learned from these efforts what is working and what needs to be improved.

We will look at the rules, laws, agreements, conventions, declarations, standards and more that already exist to protect children and their rights. We will study how these resources protect children, where they fail to protect children and where they succeed.

We will try to learn about what other actors (for example: non-governmental organizations and children themselves) are doing to ensure that business acts responsibly and respects and supports children and their rights.


We will be organizing meetings and consultations with many different people and groups to talk about the Principles and the actions business needs to take to respect and support children’s rights.

These meetings will be taking place in different regions and countries and the participants will include: business, governments, United Nations agencies, non-governmental organizations, researchers, academics, children, adolescents and more.

We will also have ways for people to share their ideas with us online, using web based questionnaires and suveys.

How will children and adolescents be involved in the Principles Initiative?

If you are reading this, you likely have already been asked to participate in a meeting, online consultation or other event. Here are some other ways we hope to support the participation of other children and adolescents…

Our goals are:

-  To support your participation in the development and implementation of the Children’s Rights and Business Principles

-  To increase your opportunities to engage with business

-  To help you better understand business responsibility to respect and support children’s rights

To accomplish this we will…

Reach out: We will identify children, adolescents, children’s organizations and initiatives and invite them to support the project.

Hold consultations and do research: We will ask children in each region to explore business roles and responsibilities to respect and support children’s rights. We will map and collect information of known initiatives and case studies.

Create and provide resources: (for example: facilitator guides, questions, background information, online tools) will be made available to support all consultations, including groups in remote areas and the most vulnerable children.  

Document: Through film and publications (reports and resources targeting both children and adults) we will document your recommendations and the consultation process.

Discuss implementation, follow up and monitoring: We want to hear from you, what needs to happen to ensure the Principles are actually used. What long term role should children and adolescents have? How do we make sure businesses are doing what they promised to do?


What happens once the Principles are created?

When the Principles are finalized, we will all have a list of things businesses should do to support and respect children’s rights. But how will we ensure they are getting done?

We are currently asking business and civil society actors during the meetings and consultations that are taking place all over the world how they can best implement, monitor and ensure fulfilment of the promises they are committing to through the Principles.  We will all, including children and adolescents, have to work together to identify the best ways of ensuring that companies follow the Principles.  However; many businesses have said that they support the Principles and have asked for them to be developed.

We need to explore ways to convince some businesses that they need to ‘sign on’. And once a business does, ‘sign on’ there should be certain things in place to ensure they are fulfilling their promises. We will all, including children and adolescents, have to work together to find the different ways of completing these tasks.

Online survey

Now that you have had the opportunity to read more about the project and understand a little more how business affects you, your rights, your family and your community – please share with us your ideas and opinions about business and what they need to do to support and respect your rights.  You have until 27 July 2011 to participate in the online survey.

The survey has two parts to it.

Part one: share with us your general ideas and opinions about how business can and should respect your rights.

Part two: share with us your specific feedback on the ‘draft Principles’. Below you can read the draft Principles and then tell us what you think, for example: what points are strong, are there important issues that are missing, and more.

Online Survey - click here


Draft Principles

There are many other gUNICEFroups having similar discussions about business and children’s rights, including other young people and also adults such as business leaders, academics, governments and non-governmental organizations.

To support their discussions and planning, a set of ‘draft’ Principles has been developed. These Principles are being shared with all of the different groups; and each group will review them and send in their comments and suggestions.

Through July – September, the ‘writers’ will review all of these comments and develop a new set of Principles.

We are sharing these draft Principles (in reader friendly format) for your review and comments.

To share your comments, please read the Principles in detail and then please visit the online survey (part two).

Summarized version of the Draft Principles

This version of the ‘Draft Principles’ is based on the 21st April, 2011 full version. The original text is approximately six pages long.

The Principles start with a section called the ‘Preamble’ which is similar to an ‘introduction’. It is approximately one page and includes:

Statements about children’s rights:

For example: That all children have rights, everywhere and at all times and that all rights are equally important. The introduction also explains the ‘4 guiding principles’ of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (best interests; non-discrimination; children’s participation; and the right to survival and development).

Information about what the Principles ask business to do:

For example: they call on business to respect and support children’s rights in the workplace, community and marketplace. The Principles give business ideas and actions they can take to respect and support children’s rights. Including reasons why business should care about children and their rights (because it can improve a business’s reputation, more people may want to invest, they will have better workers, supports a better future).

Overview of related resources:

For example: The Principles are based on existing standards that already exist, such as the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child; International Labour Organization Conventions (No. 182 and 138) and more.

How the Principles were developed:

For example: That children, youth, researchers, governments, non-governmental organizations, business and more have all been involved in the development of the Principles.

Following the preamble/introduction, there are 7 key Principles listed, with brief descriptions about each:

1.      Make a commitment to children and their families

Understand, prevent and take action to fix any negative (bad) impacts business has on children.

-  Develop a policy (a set of rules and promises) which includes promises to respect and support children’s rights.

-  Better understand how your business affects or impacts children’s rights. Involve children and other groups when you do this work.

-  Once you have developed policies (rules and promises) and you understand your impact on children, share them with management and others and make them part of the ‘business culture’.

-  Share publically all rules, promises and processes that are about children’s rights

-  Track your efforts to ensure you are keeping your promises and doing the things you set out to do to support and respect children’s rights.

-  Measure and publically communicate your work to respect and support children’s rights.

-  " Have a method for people (especially girls and boys) to say if something is wrong or is not working and to remedy this situation (also known as a 'grievance mechanism')"

-  Ask all partners and people that work with you to also follow/support your commitment to children’s rights.

-  Work in partnership with others to accomplish your goals. Including non-governmental organizations, governments and others.

2.      Respect Children’s Rights in the Workplace

(Including suppliers, manufacturers, and sellers)

[In this document, ‘child labour’ is defined as follows: children who are under the minimum working age set by country laws; and for all children, situations which are dangerous or likely to harm their health, safety or morals and also the worst forms of child labour, including child trafficking, forced labour, military purposes and more.]

End child labour in the workplace.

-  Do not employ children in any way that results in exploitation or child labour.

-  Create ways to confirm a child’s age before they are hired to work.

-  Be aware of all children in the workplace. If you find an underage child, work with that child, their family and/or other groups/agencies to ensure actions taken support the child, their best interests and their right to an education.

Respect and support the rights of working children.

-  Offer children, who have reached the legal age for work, good working opportunities that are appropriate for their age and experience.

-  Understand that girls and boys face different risks in the workplace from adults. Ensure that their rights to ‘information and association’ and ‘protection from all forms of violence’ are protected.

Provide good working conditions that also support women and men workers in their roles as mothers, fathers, parents, caregivers.

-  Consider wage levels, flexible working hours, length of working hours, support for pregnancy and breastfeeding, distance parenting issues for migrant or seasonal workers, healthcare for children and more

Make sure children affected by business are protected

-  Develop rules (a ‘child protection code of conduct’) for all workers that are near or in contact with children.

-  Ensure these workers are aware of the rules and have the needed understanding and training.

Take steps to ensure children’s rights are considered at all levels and stages of your business (including suppliers, manufacturers, and sellers).

-  Do not put pressure on suppliers and others which may result in child rights abuses (for example: trying to keep costs really low may encourage the use of child labour).

-  Develop strong, long term relationships with your suppliers, manufacturers and sellers so that they are more motivated and able to support and respect children’s rights.

3.      Make sure your products and services are safe and make a positive contribution to children’s lives.

-  All products and services that will be near or used by children should be safe and any testing and research should be done in the best interests of the child.

-  Businesses that provide essential/important products and services (such as water, electricity, medicines and legal drugs) need to make them available to all children without discrimination and to ensure they are of good quality.

-  Reduce the risk that your product, service or facility could be used to exploit or harm children, including trafficking children and sexual abuse. Think about how you can also prevent and help to stop these forms of exploitation/harm and other ways to respect and support children.

4.      Use marketing and advertising to advance children’s rights

-  Develop a policy (rules) for all media related activities and keep in mind the possible negative impacts on children.

-  Monitor and keep track of how this policy (rules) are being followed.

-  Do not use sexualized images of children or unrealistic body images

-  When possible, use marketing that strengthens children’s rights and creates positive messages

-  In partnership with other groups (including children) explore ways that advertising and marketing can be used to respect and support children’s rights.

5.      Take care of the environment where children live and grow

-  Think about how your planning, operations and development will affect the environment and children so that you can take steps to prevent a negative impact (for example: reducing access to clean water).

-  Have plans that will protect children and the environment in case of emergencies or accidents.

-  Look for ways to reduce the long term impact on the environment and climate change (for example: by reducing greenhouse gases)

6.      Help protect children affected by emergencies

[Emergencies include situations where lives, development and well-being are at risk or threatened. For example: natural disasters such as earthquakes and armed conflict.]

-  Think about how your business affects boys and girls while operating during emergencies since this can be a time when children's rights are at risk.

-  Do nothing that could encourage or extend a conflict.

-  Help protect children affected by emergencies by raising awareness amongst workers and in the community about the risks of violence, abuse and exploitation which children may face.  Also support projects and recovery initiatives for children after an emergency.

-  Help aid agencies (humanitarian agencies) to get access to affected communities and children.

7.      Support community and government efforts to fulfill children’s rights

-  Think about supporting/creating programmes that help boys and girls. Work with government to ensure these programmes support existing efforts to fulfil children’s rights.

-  Try to ensure that communities are not displaced (moved) due to business activity (land acquisition). If there is no other option, take into account children’s rights, especially their rights to education, protection, health, good living standards and participation – when considering relocation and compensation.

-  Use your influence and power to support government’s abilities to fulfil children’s rights.

-  Do not be corrupt or dishonest. Respect the laws and payment of taxes. Help create economic growth and reduce poverty.




Word Bank

Child Friendly: programs, policies, initiative etc. designed for children, with their rights in mind.

Community: A group of people that know each other or live near each other (local community), or have other things in common such as interests or beliefs.

Consultations: Asking people what they think; often in the form of a meeting or gathering of people.

Convention: Conventions are legal agreements made by governments to protect girls, boys, women, men and also our planet. They highlight the promises governments have made on an issue (for example: to protect children and women’s rights) and they are part of international law.

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR): CSR is when a company takes responsibility for its decisions and activities and the impact they have on people and the environment.

Marketplace: the places where goods (products) and services are bought and sold.

Monitoring: Checking to make sure something has been done.

Ratify: When a government ‘ratifies’ a Convention they are saying that they agree with it, and it becomes a legal duty for that country. In other words, by ratifying a Convention, a government is saying that they promise to do the things outlined in the Convention.

Research: Careful study and investigation for the purpose of discovering and explaining new knowledge.

Sexual Exploitation: The sexual exploitation of children is abusing and/or taking advantage of a child for personal gains, by involving them in sex work or sexual activity (including sexual images on the Internet), which is illegal or inappropriate.

The United Nations - also called the UN - was created after the Second World War to provide a place for all the countries of the world to deal with issues that affect them all. It has a key role in trying to maintain international peace and security. The UN is based in New York and Geneva, but also has offices in other countries.

General Assembly: or GA for short – is where all the members/countries of the UN come together - all 192 members/countries sit on the General Assembly. It is one of the main or central organs of the UN.


Need more information?

If you have more questions or if you are looking for more information, please contact:

Elisabeth Abeson, Coordinator, Children's Rights & Business Principles Initiative: [email protected]