UNICEF, the UN Global Compact and Save the Children released the Children’s Rights and Business Principles at a national event, in the capital today, attended by over 120 participants from business, civil society, UN, media and other stake-holders. This is the first comprehensive set of ten principles which identify how businesses can respect and support children’s rights through core business activities, strategic social investments and philanthropy.
“A business that integrates respect and support for children rights into its strategy and operations generates benefits for children, society; and in return generate real benefits for business as well – as the children are the future customers, employees and investors, “ said Mr. James Gitau, Representative, a.i. UNICEF India Country Office.
Dr. Shantha Sinha, Chairperson, National Commission on Protection of Child Rights, delivered the keynote address on Children’s Rights and the Role of Business. Dr. Syeda Hameed, Member Planning Commission emphasized on the need for inclusion of child rights at every level of planning overall business operations.
Ms. E.Hietavuo, Corporate Alliance Specialist, UNICEF Geneva along with Dr. Uddesh Kohli, Senior Advisor, UN Global Compact highlighted the potential role that corporate sectors could play to promote and protect children’s rights. Mr. Clement Chauvet, Chief, External Relations and Resource Mobilization, UNICEF India presented the potential way forward for implementation of the Principles. “This will help corporates to explore priority themes on children’s rights which could be aligned to their existing internal and external business operations.”
Save the Children India CEO, Mr. Thomas Chandy said, “Many business leaders today support the idea of children’s rights being integrated with their business practices. The initiative needs the involvement of the entire business community as India needs to make significant investments and improvements in the lives of its children. The business community needs to ensure that child labour does not figure in their supply chain, that they also market their products responsibly and in favour of children, and imbibe the ten business principles.”
Ms. Gayatri Subramaniam from the Indian Institute of Corporate Affairs, added that till now, recognition for the responsibility of business towards children has focused on preventing or eliminating child labour.
“This guide highlights the diverse number of ways business can respect child rights,” she said
Mr Pooran Pandey, Executive Director, UN Global Compact spoke about the global consultative process of developing the Principles. From April through July 2011, more than 600 business leaders, civil society and government representatives, key experts and children provided inputs in face-to-face meetings that took place in multiple locations across the world, including in New Delhi in May 2011. The Principles were finalized and launched in London in March 2012.
Note for Editors
The Children’s Rights and Business Principles provide a comprehensive framework for understanding and addressing the impact of business on the rights and well-being of children. Key themes discussed were:
- The lens of children’s rights could help provide impetus for overall efforts in human rights and sustainability for business.
- The innovation and value of the Principles as an overarching framework was referred to by
several speakers, as was the importance of business taking practical actions as part of their
minimum responsibility to respect child rights. The role of the Principles in providing guidance for
those in business who are committed to taking concrete actions to support child rights was also
- The importance of multi-stakeholder collaboration and partnership in making real changes for
children was also noted .
- Consideration of children’s rights in core business strategy and operations – for example, the
impacts of products, services, marketing, advertising, retail and distribution, etc. was discussed,
and in particular how all business activity and relationships affect children’s rights. It also
reinforced that business could contribute positively to children’s rights, and be a powerful force for
change, through strategic community investment and use of their influence and advocacy in
support of children’s rights.
- The fact that the Principles are aimed at advancing child rights with was also highlighted, and the initiative by the Committee on the Rights of the Child to develop a General Comment on Child Rights and the Business Sector welcomed as an important complement addressing the government responsibility to protect children’s rights.
- The challenges of uptake and implementation of the Principles by small and medium enterprises
was also noted as an area that needs attention moving forward.
-The need to ensure that business engagement and influence in promoting children’s rights is not
based on a conflict of interest was also highlighted.