Children's rights in remediation
If a company determines that it might have caused or contributed to adverse impacts on children’s rights, it should provide for or cooperate in remediation through legitimate processes, including operational-level grievance mechanisms (United Nations Guiding Principle 22). In line with Guiding Principle 31, an ‘adequate’ mechanism should conform to principles of legitimacy, accessibility, predictability, equitability, transparency and compatibility with rights. It should also be a source of continuous learning, and based on engagement and dialogue when the business itself administers remediation.
As companies develop operational-level grievance mechanisms and processes for remedy, it is crucial to make these mechanisms accessible to children. Companies may want to call on non-governmental organizations or local youth clubs that work on children’s rights to explain to children how the grievance mechanism works. Additionally, children should not be refused access or turned away in favour of a grievance filed by their parents.
Regarding the process for reporting incidents of rights violations, companies should ensure that children and young people receive assistance from someone who is trained to communicate with them in a language they can understand. Children’s safety, identity and privacy must be protected throughout the reporting procedure to ensure that they do not experience retaliation from the alleged offender or others.
Take particular care to ensure that children and families are able to report instances of child sexual abuse, whether by employees in the workplace, by security staff or in relation to community projects, including sports and education. Mechanisms for reporting child sexual abuse should be confidential and safe, recognizing the many risks associated with reporting allegations in situations of extreme vulnerability.
More information about establishing grievance mechanisms that are appropriate and accessible for children is available in UNICEF’s Children’s Rights in Impact Assessments tool.
Discussion paper: Operational-level grievance mechanisms fit for children
This discussion paper explores how businesses can help children to raise grievances effectively when their rights have been infringed and how companies can establish or participate in grie-vance mechanisms to provide recourse and resolution satisfactory to all. This approach is not only in line with children’s rights, but also promises to benefit the companies that adopt it. The paper complements UNICEF’s existing tools for companies, which provide practical guidance on incorporating children’s rights in policies, impact assessments, reporting and stakeholder engagement. To date, children’s right to a remedy has received little attention in the context of business-related human rights violations and abuses. With this in mind, the paper aims to start a dialogue about children’s rights and operational grievance mechanisms.