NEW YORK, NY – At the opening of a major meeting of business leaders organized by the United Nations, UNICEF, the UN Global Compact, and Save the Children called on the business community to work together to build universal principles that will place children’s rights at the top of the global corporate responsibility agenda. The Code secretariat provided input presenting the Code as a case study in the publication ― Human Trafficking and Business: Good Practices to Prevent and Combat Human Trafficking – which was presented at the summit. The Code is a tourism industry driven responsible tourism initiative to protect children from sex tourism.
Campaigns to end child labor and other breaches of children’s rights are nothing new, but to date there is no simple universal guidance that enables business to be confident their activities, including their social responsibility programs, are a positive force for the youngest and most vulnerable global citizens.
The three organizations are asking business leaders to work with them to develop principles – to be known as the Children’s Principles for Business – so that they can avoid the negative impacts that their activities may have on children and contribute to a better future for everyone.
“Protecting children‘s rights is a global responsibility that requires global commitment from us all, in every sector,” said Anthony Lake, UNICEF executive director. “This new partnership will help to establish clear principles for businesses to participate in the global effort to help all children, and especially those most in need.”
The Principles will be based on the Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) which spells out the basic human rights of children everywhere: 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.
“Business has an enormous potential to impact children‘s lives,” said Georg Kell, executive director of the UN Global Compact. “While much progress has been made in managing and mitigating impacts in areas such as child labor, workplace policies, childcare, or responsible marketing, the Principles seek to address the broader responsibilities and commitments of business towards children as one of their constituencies.”
Recognizing that to be effective, these principles must meet the needs of all stakeholders and that everyone has something to bring to the table, the three partners are appealing to business leaders from all sectors and geographic regions to participate in the consultation process and contribute their expertise to shaping the Children‘s Principles for Business.
“It is important that corporations step up and realize that they play a crucial role in children’s lives,” said Elisabeth Dahlin, secretary-general of Save the Children Sweden. “The Children´s principles for Business will raise the expectations of business behavior towards children. Many companies can do more than they do today.”
The Principles will serve as a unifying framework and as a reference point for business initiatives concerning children. They will help elaborate Principles 1 and 2 of the UN Global Compact, which asks business to respect and support human rights and not be complicit in human rights abuses. The Principles will seek to be relevant and useful to all businesses, whether or not they are Global Compact participants. The multi-stakeholder consultation begins on June 25, 2010, and it is hoped that the Children‘s Principles for Business will be launched in 2011.