Vientiane, 10 October 2019 – To mark the 30th anniversary of the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC30), the world’s most widely ratified human rights treaty, the National Commission for the Advancement of Women, Mothers and Children (NCAWMC), with the support of UNICEF Lao PDR, organized today the first ever private sector consultation on child rights and business in Lao PDR.
“Companies interact with children on a daily basis, although often neither directly nor purposefully. Children are workers, consumers, family members of workers and community members where companies operate. This interaction can be positive both for children and business, if children’s rights are adequately considered by companies when conducting their operations,” said H.E. Mr. Alounkeo Kittikhoun, Minister to the Prime Minister’s Office and Vice-President of the National Commission for the Advancement of Women, Mothers and Children, who co-chaired the consultation and gave opening remarks.
The objective of the consultation was to identify key areas where business have a significant impact on children and jointly find ways forward to better respect and support children’s rights.
“Globally, children are rarely considered as distinct stakeholders by business. To achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, business must become fit for children. At UNICEF, we believe that engaging with business can significantly help achieve better results for children. We welcome the beginning of promising collaborative work between the government of Lao PDR and the private sector”, stated Dr. Octavian Bivol, Representative, UNICEF Lao PDR.
Business representatives, industry associations and line ministries were present to discuss how the private sector can play a key role in supporting the government’s efforts to protect and support children’s rights in Lao PDR.
Leading businesses in the country, including Sinouk Coffee, Green Discovery and Crowne Plaza Vientiane, and other UN organizations such as UNFPA presented examples of business practices that, by providing family-friendly workplaces, vocational trainings and decent working conditions for workers, impact positively the wellbeing of children and communities, as well as the sustainability of their business.
UNICEF Thailand and the Stock Exchange of Thailand discussed how children’s rights were incorporated into corporate sustainability frameworks in Thailand, and how this approach could be replicated.
The vice-president of the Lao National Chamber of Commerce formally invited their members to sign up to a voluntary commitment, encouraging the business sector to work jointly with the government of Lao PDR toward fulfilling the rights of every child by 2030.
Participants identified a set of priority actions including the need to refer to the CRC in their company/business association code of conduct; support government’s efforts in providing quality education for all children; provide decent work opportunities for children above the minimum legal age for work, including vocational and specialized training; develop family-friendly policies and practices at the workplace to promote gender equality and protect the wellbeing of workers’ children; and align these priority actions with the Lao Labour Law, in particular section VI on the employment of women and the use of youth employees; and the Children’s Rights and Business Principles.
A multistakeholder taskforce with committed members of the private sector, line ministries and development partners will meet in 2020 to continue their engagement on reaching better results for children through business.
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