Foreign Policy Blogs

Children’s Rights and Business Principles

Children under the age of 18 years-old comprise almost a third of the global population, however they are often left unconsidered in the creation of business practices and corporate social responsibility.  Nonetheless rights of millions of children across the globe are violated on a daily basis, most of which have a direct correlation to business practices.

The first comprehensive set of principles to guide companies on the full range of actions they can take in the workplace, marketplace and community to respect and support children’s rights was released recently.    The Children’s Rights and Business Principles was developed by UNICEF, the UN Global Compact and Save the Children, and is the first comprehensive set of principles to guide companies on the full range of actions they can take in the workplace, marketplace and community to respect and support the rights of children.  The Principles recognize existing international human rights law, specifically the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the articles of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention on the worst forms of child labor.

The partners behind the Principles believe that companies have failed to recognize the benefits of taking a more proactive approach and that by “considering how products and services can better meet children’s needs can also be a source of innovation and create new markets. Finally, working for children helps build strong, well-educated communities that are vital to a stable, inclusive and sustainable business environment.”

The Principles, were developed in consultation with children, as well as business, investors, trade unions, national human rights institutions, civil society, governments, and academics. Therefore the Principles were created to enhance and strengthen existing standards, initiatives and best practices related to business and children.  Therefore the Principles seek to fill gaps to in the current practices and provide a coherent vision for business to maximize the positive impacts and minimize negative impacts on children.  The main objective of the Principles is to provide a clear understanding of the opportunities business have regarding children; who are often overlooked as stakeholders of business.

The issue of protecting the rights of children across the globe goes much deeper than just that of putting an end to the use of child labor and thankfully the Principles outline this.  In the 10 Principles, there is a specific call to action for business to ensure that all of their products and services are safe, to ensure that future children’s rights are ensured and advanced in relation to the environment and land acquisition, and that marketing and advertising seek to protect and not exploit the right of the child.  Additionally the Principles state that businesses should pay particular attention to safeguarding children in emergency situations, as they are at increased risk of abuse, including sexual, and exploitation.

While the Principles are a significant development in the protection and safeguarding of children’s rights, they will not be able to make a sustainable impact alone.  In order for the Principles to be effective and enhance existing laws and programs, local communities, governments, international community and the media will all have to play a role in the protection of children’s rights.  Thus scrutiny of corporate practice, must be put into place with political and legal reforms, which must be enforced at all levels, if we are to see true and sustainable change and ensure all children their basic rights.


  • Julia Fagundes

    Hi Cassandra,
    Good Morning,

    My name is Julia Fagundes I am 19 years old, I am from Brazil.

    I’ve noticed that you are very informed of the Children’s rights and business practice initiative. I find informations in your blog that i couldn’t find enywere!
    So I was hopping you can help me with that issue…

    I’m working in an NGO on a project linked with the initiative Children’s Rights and Business Principles.
    My NGO discuss the bad impact of advertising on children.

    The 6th Principle is exactly about the relation business marketing – children.
    My question is: how does the sponsoring organizations will make sure that the business is not using bad advertising for the children, or using marketing to promote a unhealthy food, or even to promote a life style through some product that the children doesen’t even need, but start to think he/her need’s it just because they don’t have any critical sense.
    In my opinion, every advertising aimed for children should be prohibited, but unfotunately, in Brazil, it is not.
    I just want to undestand how the 6th Principle of the Children’s Right and Business Principles will work.
    Will there be any finantial incentive for the business? Or some obligation for the government to fiscalize that?

    Thank you for your atention, I am wating the answer.

    Julia Fagundes

  • Julia Fagundes


    thanks a lot for your atention, I forgot, but I have two more question, if that’s ok:

    In Brazil, if we have a denounces to make against some business that is violating children’s rights, who we can talk with? Unicef? Save the Children?

    And what the initiative thinks about general advertising for children?

    Thank you,


Cassandra Clifford
Cassandra Clifford

Cassandra Clifford is the Founder and Executive Director of Bridge to Freedom Foundation, which works to enhance and improve the services and opportunities available to survivors of modern slavery. She holds an M.A., International Relations from Dublin City University in Ireland, as well as a B.A., Marketing and A.S., Fashion Merchandise/Marketing from Johnson & Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island.

Cassandra has previously worked in both the corporate and charity sector for various industries and causes, including; Child Trafficking, Learning Disabilities, Publishing, Marketing, Public Relations and Fashion. Currently Cassandra is conducting independent research on the use of rape as a weapon of war, as well as America’s Pimp Culture and its Impact on Modern Slavery. In addition to her many purists Cassandra is also working to develop a series of children’s books.

Cassandra currently resides in the Washington, D.C. metro area, where she also writes for the Examiner, as the DC Human Rights Examiner, and serves as an active leadership member of DC Stop Modern Slavery.

Areas of Focus:
Children's Rights; Human Rights; Conflict