The global release of the Principles

UNICEF, the United Nations Global Compact and Save the Children (the sponsoring organizations) hosted a global release event for the Children’s Rights and Business Principles (the Principles) on 12 March 2012, in London. The 10 Principles set out concrete actions for business to respect and support children’s rights. The event was attended by more than 160 invitees from business and civil society, the objective being to provide a comprehensive introduction to the Principles, illustrating their practicality and broad relevance with examples of business practice from across the globe.

Paul Hohnen, sustainability consultant and master of ceremonies, opened the event.
He began by noting that one measure of the greatness of a society was how children are treated, and that an investment in children is the best and purest form of investment a society can make for its future.

Hohnen’s opening remarks were followed by a video statement from United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who said: “When it comes to children, we all need to do more. That is why I welcome the launch of the Children’s Rights and Business Principles ... The Principles provide the first comprehensive framework for business to consider their impact on the rights and well-being of children. They set out steps that all businesses can take to integrate child rights into their operations.”

Leila Gharagozloo-Pakkala, Director, Private Fundraising and Partnerships, UNICEF, thanked all those who had contributed to developing the Principles. She underscored that the Principles are based on the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and are aligned with the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and key International Labour Organization (ILO) conventions. Children represent one third of the world’s population, she pointed out, and deprivation and violation of children’s rights during these formative years could have irreversible impacts. Leila Gharagotloo-Pakkala stressed that current sustainability debates miss the perspective of children as crucial stakeholders of business in their roles as “…consumers, family members of employees, young workers, future employees and business leaders, and as citizens in the communities and environments in which business operates. Business – whether large or small – therefore inevitably interacts with and affects the lives of children in direct and indirect ways.”

Then, 4 panels including businesses and civil societies commented the principles, provided good practice examples and discussed the role of the Principles for Business  to respect and support children's rights.