ICJ and UNICEF publish Guide for States on children’s rights and business

Jointly elaborated by the ICJ and UNICEF, at the request of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, this Guide offers to States practical examples and best practices on how to protect and ensure the realization of the rights of the child in the context of business operations.

More than ever before, business enterprises have an impact on children’s lives.

Children are consumers of businesses’ products and services, workers in their factories and fields, family members of their employees, and residents of the communities that host their operations.

Some of these interactions can benefit children. Companies have, for instance, created new technologies that enrich children’s education, enhance medical care, and connect families around the world. Yet at the same time, businesses can also have detrimental impacts.

Companies can make and sell unhealthy and unsafe goods to children, pollute the environments in which children live and play, and expose them to serious dangers in the workplace.

As children are still growing and developing, they are especially vulnerable to negative business impacts and can be severely and permanently affected by infringements of their rights.

Child consumers can be more easily convinced to buy and use inappropriate or unsuitable products, and children are much more susceptible than adults to the harmful physical effects of toxic chemicals, manual labour and poor diets.

Young workers can never fully make up for time spent out of education, and missed opportunities are rarely restored.

Many of these impacts remain unnoticed, and businesses rarely involve or seek the input of children on decisions that will profoundly affect them.

Children may not understand that their rights are in jeopardy, and, even when they do, often face tremendous challenges in making their voices heard.

All too frequently, child victims lack the confidence, resources and legal authority to demand accountability from those who violate their rights.

For these reasons, it is imperative that governments take action to protect and promote children’s rights in the context of business operations.

Recognizing this need, the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child has for many years drawn States’ attention to business impacts on children, both within and outside their borders.

In February 2013, the Committee adopted General Comment 16 on “State obligations regarding the impact of the business sector on children’s rights”, providing an international framework for States to ensure that businesses respect children’s rights as envisioned in the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The Guide can be downloaded in PDF format here:


PublicationsReportsThematic reports