General Comment 16 on State Obligations regarding the Impact of the Business Sector on Children's Rights: What Is Its Standing, Meaning and Effect?

By Gerber, Paula; Kyriakakis, Joanna et al. | Melbourne Journal of International Law, June 2013 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

General Comment 16 on State Obligations regarding the Impact of the Business Sector on Children's Rights: What Is Its Standing, Meaning and Effect?


Gerber, Paula, Kyriakakis, Joanna, O'Byrne, Katie, Melbourne Journal of International Law


A lot of attention has" been paid to the responsibility of business to protect human rights generally, but very little to the role of the business sector when it comes to children's rights specifically. This lack of attention is being addressed by the United Nations Committee on the Rights" of the Child ('CRC'), which has developed a new General Comment on State Obligations regarding the Impact of the Business Sector on Children's Rights. This" article explores' the legal standing of general comments' developed by United Nations treaty committees before examining the implications of this new general comment on the business sector and children's rights. This article also analyses the innovative drafting process adopted by the CRC .for this particular general comment and considers whether that process reflects a trend towards' increased stakeholder participation in human rights norm-building on the international stage. Finally, the authors evaluate the new general comment in light of the broader international dialogue on business and human rights.

CONTENTS

I    Introduction
II   What Is the Standing of General Comments?
       A  Source of Authority
       B  Status in Law
       C  Function in Practice
III  The Innovative Process of Developing General Comment 16
       A  The Drafting Process
       B  Trends in Interpretative Practice
IV   General Comment 16 and the Broader Business and Human Rights
     Discourse
       A  The Special Representative on Human Rights and Business and a
          Participatory Work Model
       B  Evaluating General Comment 16
V    Conclusion

'There can be no keener revelation of a society's soul than the way in which it treats its children.' (1)

--Nelson Mandela

I INTRODUCTION

The fact that there are 193 states parties to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child ('Convention') (2) indicates that states take children's rights seriously and have at least some degree of commitment to recognising the inherent dignity of all children and ensuring they receive the protection necessary to enable them to reach their full potential. However, the business community has not demonstrated the same degree of commitment to protecting and promoting children's rights.

Indeed, there are numerous examples of corporations perpetrating violations of children's rights. Some violations that affect populations generally--for example, deprivation of food, clean water and health services--can result in irreparable harms that affect children more acutely than adults. (3) Other violations are child-specific. For example, children have been forced to undertake hazardous forms of labour (4) and have suffered the consequences of environmental hazards caused by corporate activities. (5) Some hotels, airlines and networking websites have facilitated child trafficking. (6) Children are sexualised in the media and advertising. (7) Workplace discrimination and employer reluctance to supporting new families also harms young children. (8) The marketing of artificial breastmilk substitutes compromises infant health. (9) Lawsuits alleging violations of children's rights have been filed in a variety of jurisdictions against a number of companies, including:

* Sanlu Group (alleging child illness from melamine contaminated milk products); (10)

* Pfizer (alleging child injury and death from drug trials); (11)

* Firestone (alleging child labour); (12)

* Nestle, Cargill and Archer Daniels Midland (alleging child labour and trafficking); (13)

* Wet-A-Line Tours (alleging child sex recruitment); (14) and

* DuPont (alleging birth defects as a result of fungicide exposure). (15)

The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child ('CRC') is seeking to prevent further violations of children's rights by corporations by developing a general comment that focuses specifically on the business sector and children's rights.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

General Comment 16 on State Obligations regarding the Impact of the Business Sector on Children's Rights: What Is Its Standing, Meaning and Effect?
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?