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General Comment on “State obligations regarding the impact of the business sector on children’s rights” by the Committee on the Rights of the Child

Recently, the Committee on the Rights of the Child has issued General Comment No. 16 (2013) on State obligations regarding the impact of the business sector on children’s rights. Recognising that States have obligations regarding the impact of business activities and operations on children’s rights arising from the Convention on the Rights of the Child and its Optional Protocols, the General Comment provide States with a framework for implementing the Convention as a whole with regard to the business sector whilst focusing on specific contexts where the impact of business activities on children’s rights can be most significant. 

General Comment provides States with guidance on how they should:

a) Ensure that the activities and operations of business enterprises do not adversely impact on children’s rights;

b) Create an enabling and supportive environment for business enterprises to respect children’s rights, including across any business relationships linked to their operations, products or services and across their global operations; and

c) Ensure access to effective remedy for children whose rights have been infringed by a business enterprise acting as a private party or as a State agent.

The General Comments provides specific guidance to states where children’s right to be free and protected from economic exploitation are impacted as a result of business activities. Global March Against Child Labour actively participated in the consultative process followed during the drafting of the General comment to seek views and opinions of civil society and submitted its comments on the Annotated Outline of the General Comment in 2012 in relation to the causes and consequences of child labour in the global supply chains, and the impact businesses have on child rights, especially child labourers. 

Several provisions in the General Comment with regard to protecting children from economic exploitation are representative of Global March’s submission and view with respect to child labour. Responding to the issue of large number children found in hidden areas of informal work, such as small family enterprises and agricultural sectors, the General Comment guides States to put in place measures to ensure that business activities take place within appropriate legal and institutional frameworks in all circumstances regardless of size or sector of the economy so that children’s rights can be recognised and protected. With transnational corporations spanning numerous State boundaries and the increasing incidence of child labour and exploitation in global supply chains of goods, the General Comments holds both Home and Host States responsible and lays down extraterritorial obligations for States Governments to respect, protect and fulfil children’s right. Most importantly as per the General Comment, States should require businesses to undertake child-rights due diligence for identification, prevention and mitigation of violations of children’s rights as a result of their business activities.

To read the full text of the General Comment, see here

To read, Global March’s submission on Annotated Outline of the General Comment, see here