A three-month consultation period has concluded for the Children’s Rights and Business Principles (CRBP) Initiative. More than 600 business leaders, civil society representatives and children participated in face-to-face or online consultations to comment on a set of draft principles which will set standards for child-friendly businesses everywhere.
Now closed, the consultations – facilitated by Save the Children, UN Global Compact, and UNICEF – will provide key inputs for the Principles, which will be the first comprehensive guidelines for companies on the range of actions they can take in the workplace, marketplace and community to respect and support children’s rights. Several in-person consultations were designed exclusively for children and adolescents, so that those directly affected could have their say.
A wide spectrum of representatives from around the world have now had an opportunity to help shape the Children’s Rights and Business Principles. Over 200 participants responded in five languages through an online portal hosted by the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre, and over 400 participants attended a consultation in one of eleven host cities: Beijing, Belgrade, Buenos Aires, Copenhagen, Delhi, Dubai, Geneva, London, Nairobi, Istanbul and Shanghai.
“The consultations are the most important part of the whole process,” said Henrik Holmquist, Advisor to the Secretary General of Save the Children Sweden. The CRBP Initiative encouraged direct feedback from participants on what they want the Principles to say and how best to ensure they are used when launched.
“This is a great initiative. Involving the business sector in the dialogue from the very beginning was the right thing to do,” said Jelena Kovacevic, Executive Director of McCann Erickson PR Serbia at the Belgrade consultation on 24 June. “It means that the final version of the Principles will consider different stakeholders’ comments, which I find highly significant for their implementation once they have been adopted.”
Fifty-eight per cent of online respondents provided feedback in a professional capacity, while the remaining 42 per cent responded to the Principles personally. Forty per cent of online respondents came from the private sector, 43 per cent were from civil society, non-governmental organizations, academia or trade unions, and three per cent identified themselves as government.
The consultations provided stakeholders with a way to directly contribute to the development and implementation of the Principles. Eighty-seven per cent of online respondents agreed with the scope and themes of the Principles. In-person participants overall agreed that the proposed draft is an excellent starting point to address the range of ways in which business operations impact on children’s rights, while many participants, both in-person and online, emphasized the need to make the Principles both effective and realistic.
“Corporate responsibility is about doing business the right way,” said Pauline Warui, Safaricom Chief Customer Care Officer at the Nairobi consultation on 24 June. “It’s not expensive or difficult for business to commit to the seven principles on children’s rights – it is more expensive not to do so.”
Following a revision process that incorporates the results of the consultations, plans are to launch the Children’s Rights and Business Principles on 15 November 2011.