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South Africa, 9 February 2016: Mining, civil society and UNICEF agree to partner to further children’s rights within the mining sector

© UNICEF South Africa/2016/Schermbrucker
Panelists at the breakfast round table

TABLE BAY HOTEL, CAPE TOWN, South Africa, 9 February 2016 – UNICEF in partnership with the National Business Initiative, and the South African Human Rights Commission, held a breakfast round table to discuss ways in which children’s rights can be upheld and preserved in the South African mining industry.

The discussions were informed by the ‘Children’s Rights and Business Principles’ a tool developed by UNICEF, Save the Children and the UN Global Compact to assess the ways in which the mining sector affects children across the world. Members of the business community included Honorable Buti Manamela, Deputy Minister in the Presidency responsible for Planning, Monitoring, Evaluation and Youth Development, Mr. Mike Teke CEO of the Chamber of Mines, Ms Bridgette Radebe Chief Executive of Mmakau Mining, Ms Kgomotso Tshaka, Social Ethics, and Transformation committee of the NBI. The panel deliberated some of the challenges that they currently confront, and how their business practices could be better enhanced to put the rights of children as a valued stakeholder within the sector.

The Children’s Rights and Business Principles are informed by the fact that within the mining sector, children’s rights, namely those of a right to education, housing and their right to a healthy community and environment, are often marginalized by the extractive sector. UNICEF has applied these principles in other countries such as Madagascar, Canada and Mozambique and have proven to serve as important guidelines for corporations as to how to preserve the well-being of children, whilst continuing to operate a lucrative business.

Though public statistics on child labour in the South African mining sector remain thin, one of the purposes of the round table was to bring to light how best the private mining sector can include children in their business practices, placing their preservation of their rights as integral. The panelists at the round table were able to acknowledge that the mining industry recognizes that children should be included in business practices, and that the principles were a good start to creating a broader multi-stakeholder platform to dialogue as to how best to do so.

The panelists committed themselves to plan to unpack the issues that children face, and to reconvene to formulate a report on addressing opportunities where The Principles can be incorporated, furthering the fulfilment of children’s rights.



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