ICJ hails step towards protection of children against business abuses

The ICJ welcomes the adoption by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child of a General comment on State obligations regarding the impact of the business sector on children’s rights. 

The ICJ stresses the Committee is the first UN human rights treaty body to address this issue directly in a General comment.

“The Committee on the Rights of the Child has taken a decisive step in clarifying standards under the Convention on the Rights of the Child and providing much needed guidance for States to better protect the rights of the child against business abuse,” said Carlos Lopez, ICJ’s Senior Legal Adviser on Business and Human Rights.

The UN Committee recognizes that while there is no international legally binding instrument on the business sector’s responsibilities vis-à-vis human rights, “duties and responsibilities to respect the rights of children extend in practice beyond the State and State-controlled services and institutions and apply to private actors and business enterprises. Therefore all businesses must meet their responsibilities regarding children’s rights and States must ensure they do so.”

The UN Committee also acknowledges that voluntary actions of corporate responsibility by business enterprises are not a substitute for State action and regulation of businesses or for businesses to comply with their responsibilities to respect children’s rights.

The General Comment was elaborated through a consultative process over nearly two years with the support of the ICJ, UNICEF and Save the Children International.

It gives interpretation and guidance for States in key areas:

  • how they should ensure that the activities and operations of business enterprises do not adversely impact on children’s rights;
  • how to create an enabling and supportive environment for business enterprises to respect children’s rights across their local or global operations; and
  • how to ensure access to effective remedy for children whose rights have been infringed by a business enterprises.

“The recommendations and guidance provided by the Committee are a key contribution to national and international strategies by States and other actors,” Lopez added. “States now need implement these recommendations.”

BHR-FINAL CRC GC 16-comment-2013 (full text in pdf)

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