The Principles and other standards and norms

UNICEF’s engagement with business builds on a constellation of inter-nationally recognized human rights and business standards and norms. Together, the following standards and norms show how businesses, as well as governments, can work to ensure that the rights of all children are fully realized.

The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child

The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC)​ was adopted in 1989 and articulates the basic, non-negotiable human rights that all children have, touching on all facets of children's lives – from education and health to protection from violence and freedom of expression. The Convention is a core human rights treaty within the international human rights system that has been ratified by nearly all States, not just as an aspiration, but as a legally binding commitment for which they are held accountable.

While the CRC does not specifically address the role of business in realizing children's rights, it builds the legal foundation for the Children's Rights and Business Principles (CRBP) and the CRC General Comment no. 16.

UNICEF (20​07): Implementation Handbook for the Convention on the Rights of the Child

UNICEF has developed this Handbook to provide a detailed reference for the implementation of law, policy and practice to promote and protect the rights o​​f children, and to give a concise description of the role, powers and procedures, and developing activities of the Committee on the Rights of the Child. The Handbook includes Implementation Checklists for each article and the two Optional Protocols to the Convention, and their guidelines for reporting.

UNICEF (​2016)​: Mapping the Global Goals​ for Sustainable Development and the Convention on the Rights of the Child
This interactive document aims to encourage an in-depth and broad-based exploration of the links and synergies between the SDGs and the CRC.​

The UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights

The UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGP)​ represent a milestone in the business and human rights discussion as they provide an authoritative global standard for preventing and addressing the risk of adverse impacts on human rights linked to business activity. Their unanimous endorsement by the Human Rights Council in 2011 has resulted in an increased awareness on the role of businesses in supporting and respecting human rights.

Building on the three pillars 'Protect, Respect and Remedy' of the UNGP, UNICEF engages governments, companies and civil society to place children's rights at the heart of the corporate sustainability agenda.

State duty to PROTECT human rights: UNICEF advocates for governments to fulfil their duty to protect children's rights in line with the Committee on the Rights of the Child's General Comment no. 16.

Corporate responsibility to RESPECT human rights: UNICEF promotes the corporate responsibility to respect and the commitment to support children's rights in the workplace, marketplace, community and environment, as described in the Children's Rights and Business Principles.

Access to REMEDY: UNICEF has drafted a discussion paper​ on what operational-level grievance mechanisms that are fit for children looks like.​

"The Children's Rights and Business Principles are an important effort to explore the implications of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights for the human rights of children. Children are among the most marginalized and vulnerable members of society, and can be disproportionately, severely and permanently impacted by business activities, operations and re​lationships."​

Professor John Ruggie, former UN Secretary-General's Special Representative for Business and Human Rights​.


The Children's Rights and Business Principles

Recognizing the need for an explicit child rights perspective and guidance for companies on how to prevent and address risks to children's rights, Save the Children, UNICEF and the UN Global Compact led a process to develop the Children's Rights and Business Principles (CRBP) in consultation with business, child rights experts, civil society, governments and children. Launched in 2012, the CRBP are the first set of principles that identify a comprehensive range of actions that all business should take to respect and support children's rights in everything they do – in the workplace, marketplace, community and environment – and in conjunction with the government's duty to protect human and children's rights.

  • Respect: Avoiding any infringement of human rights, including children's rights, and addressing any adverse human rights impact with which the business is involved. The corporate responsibility to respect applies to the business's own activities and to its business relationships, linked to its operations, products or services.
  • Support: In addition to respecting human rights, voluntary actions that seek to advance human rights, including children's rights, through core business activities, strategic social investment and philanthropy, advocacy and public policy engagement, working in partnership and other collective action.


The CRBP do not create new obligations for businesses. Instead, they build on internationally recognized standards and provide an operative framework for companies to respect children's existing rights as established in the CRC and ILO's Conventions No. 138 on Minimum Age and No. 182 on the Worst Forms of Child Labou​r. They also put forward the idea that companies have a responsibility to respect human rights as provided in the UNGP and The Ten Principles of the UN Global Compact.​ 

In order to meet their responsibilities, the CRBP call on businesses to put in place appropriate policies and processes, as set out in the UNGP, including a policy commitment and a due diligence process to address potential and actual impacts on human rights. They recognize the tremendous positive power of all corporates, regardless of their size, sector, location, ownership and structure, and seek to promote the best business practices for children.

© UNICEF. Presentation of the Children's Rights and Business Principles


The CRC General Comment no.16

In February 2013, the Committee on the Rights of the Child adopted General Comment no. 16 on State obligations regarding the impact of business on children's rights​ with the objective to assist States parties in meeting their rights and obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Comment stresses the importance for States to have in place well-functioning child-focused governance structures and mechanisms which ensure that children's rights are not 'left behind' and over-shadowed by consideration of business interests. More specifically, the Comment spells out the role of Governments in supporting children's rights in the context of business activities by providing them with authoritative guidance on how to regulate, influence and engage with the private sector to make sure that companies respect children's rights. ​​

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