Incorporating Children's Rights into Policies
The commitment to respect and support children’s rights can be integrated within company statements of business principles, codes of conduct or other values-related corporate commitments and policies. This commitment can also take the form of a stand-alone statement or a specific child protection policy or code of conduct.
The commitment to children’s rights should specify expectations for personnel, suppliers, customers, business partners and others who are directly linked to business operations, products and services. It should be publicly available, communicated internally and externally; receive sign-off from the highest level in the company; and be embedded in all policies and procedures – including, for example, standards for the supply chain, statements of ethics, and employee policies and codes of conduct. It may also include a statement of the business’s commitment to support children’s rights.
All companies should consider integrating these key elements into existing human rights and other relevant policies and codes of conduct. At a minimum, companies should include:
- An explicit commitment to respect all human rights, including children’s rights.
- Define children’s rights as those enshrined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and/or refer to the Children’s Rights and Business Principles as the framework upon which the company is operationalizing its responsibility to respect and commitment to support children’s rights.
- Prioritize labour and non-labour child rights issues, as material in terms of the impacts experienced by children as affected rights holders, for inclusion in company policies to establish expectations for employees, suppliers, subcontractors, customers and other business partners.
- Stipulate labour and non-labour child rights issues, as material in terms of the impacts experienced by children as affected rights holders, in employee, supplier and other codes of conduct, which will depend on the nature of the business and the areas in which it operates and its specific impacts on children.
Businesses should also consider including a commitment to support the advancement of specific children’s rights through the application of core competencies and/or influence with business partners and other key stakeholders.
Children's Rights in Policies and Codes of Conduct
Authors: UNICEF, Save the Children
Date: December, 2013
This tool recommends ways for all businesses to incorporate children’s rights into their policies and codes of conduct, based on the Children’s Rights and Business Principles. It reaches beyond the traditional focus areas of child labour and philanthropy and outlines the child rights elements that are relevant to all companies. At the same time, it is intended to be flexible and adaptable, and includes elements that companies can adopt and integrate as appropriate, based on their biggest areas of risk and opportunity.