Business sector - Childrens Rights Reform

Business sector

Responsibilities of the business sector in relation to children’s rights legislative reform

The business sector and their activities have an impact on children and their rights in multiple ways (CRC GC 16).

  • For example, the rules and regulations of social media platforms have an impact on the material that children are exposed to on these platforms. While these materials can have a positive impact on children’s rights, such as their right to information, they may also expose them to violence and harm.

The business sector’s interest may be impacted by children’s rights legislative reform as it may very well regulate the impact of their products and services on the rights of children. This may be a reason for the business to lobby against certain elements of children’s rights legislation or to try to influence the legislative process.

There is no legally binding international instrument on the private sector’s responsibilities vis-à-vis human rights (CRC GC 16, para 8).

However, the CRC Committee recognises that 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. (CRC GC 5, para. 56).

Therefore, all business sector stakeholders must meet their responsibilities to respect children’s rights, including children’s access to effective remedies in cases of rights violations (see also Children’s Rights and Business Principles) and States Parties must ensure they do so.

When it comes to the legislative reform process this may imply that the government approaches the business sector as key stakeholders and reaches out for their input and involvement in a manner that is conducive to the realisation of children’s rights. More specifically, the business sector could be invited to:

  • Participate in committees that lead or provide input to the legislative reform process;
  • Co-formulate or co-design the principles and provisions laid down in the legislation in order to ensure that it connects effectively to the business sector, while fully respecting the CRC standards.
  • Provide (financial) support for independent research and awareness campaigns relating to the legislative reform process.
  • Provide (financial) support for the implementation and monitoring of the legislation.

This approach aligns well with the CRC Committee’s encouragement to States to acknowledge “that voluntary actions of corporate responsibility by business enterprises such as social investments, advocacy and public policy engagement, voluntary codes of conduct, philanthropy and other collective action can advance children’s rights”. States should “encourage such voluntary actions and initiatives as a means to create a business culture which respects and supports children’s rights” (CRC GC 16, para 9).