Engagement with governments (public policy)

While businesses are accountable for the impact of their activities on human and children's rights as recognized in the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and the Children's Rights and Business Principles, the ultimate responsibility to ensure respect for human and children's rights lies with the authorities at national level. 

Governments have three specific obligations to implement children's rights in the business context:

  • Resp​​ect: Never support, enable, allow or approve of any violations of children’s rights, especially when acting as a business.
  • Support: Do everything possible to stop businesses from abusing children’s rights or making violations of children’s rights worse.
  • Fulfil: Take active steps to realize children’s rights, and support businesses to do the same.

In February 2013, the Committee on the Rights of the Child adopted General Comment no. 16 on State obligations regarding the impact of the business sector on children's rights, to which countries will be held accountable for ensuring that children's rights are protected in business activities.

As below, UNICEF has released practical guidance and tools for governments and other important stakeholders to understand how these obligations can be met in practice.

Obligations and Actions on Children's Rights and Business: A practical guide for States on how to implement the UN Committee on the Child's General Comment no. 16

Authors: UNICEF, International Commission of Jurists

Date: June 2015

Download: English

How can governments make children's rights a reality when it comes to business? What can they do to require and encourage businesses to respect children's rights? This guide provides practical advice on how governments can make sure that all business activity respects children's rights through laws, policies, research, monitoring, awareness raising, and remedies. It highlights notable national, regional and international practices, and includes expert recommendations from the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child.


Children's Rights and Business Explained: A plain-language version of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child's General Comment no.16

Authors: UNICEF, Save the Children

Date: June 2015

Download: English

What does the UN have to say about children's rights and business? This publication offers a reader-friendly version of international guidance on children's rights and business, and it a useful resource for governments, businesses and advocates. It explains complex legal content in plain language, and follows the same structure as the official text so that it can be read side-by-side. It also includes definitions of common legal and business terms, and describes other international standards on children's rights and business.


Children's Rights in National Action Plans on Business and Human Rights

Authors: UNICEF, Danish Institute for Human Rights, International Corporate Accountability Roundtable (ICAR)

Date: November 2015

Download: English

This report provides guidance on how children’s rights can be addressed in National Action Plans (NAPs) on Business and Human Rights and other similar policies. It complements the existing “NAPs Toolkit” by the International Corporate Accountability Roundtable (ICAR) and the Danish Institute for Human Rights (DIHR). The guidance outlines how children’s rights should be considered in the process of developing NAPs and what the content of focus should be when setting priorities for action on children’s rights.