In the recent publications ‘COP 26: Climate change and modern slavery’, the Commissioner brings together the research and evidence showing that climate change ‘exacerbates vulnerability to modern slavery’, primarily through to climate-induced migration but also that there is a link between slavery and sustainable production. The Commissioner took the opportunity to emphasise that environmental and social issues ‘need not be in competition with each other’.
For the full article, please see the Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner’s website here.
In the development CSR, rights observers have understood that corporate interests generally outweigh the voluntary demand for an ethical and socially responsible supply chain. There are various examples of CSR that have developed, which compels corporations to comply with legal standards. For example the UK Modern Slavery Act 2015 that that dictates national legal standards, which requires corporations to publish the steps they are taking to ensure their supply chains and free of modern slavery, child labour, human trafficking. This regulation applies both domestically and for international sourcing, in which certain export standards of mandatory social compliance are placed onto developing countries with cheap labour. The California Transparency in Supply Chain Act (CTSCA) 2010 operates similar obligations but working at state level. The Indian Companies Act (2013) compels Indian corporations to spend 2% of their pre-tax profit on CSR.
How Child Rights fit into CSR
Although such legislation is aimed more broadly at achieving supply chain transparency, upholding child rights is a key element of this. Specifically, there is a set of 10 Child Rights and Business Principles as outlined by Save the Children, the UN Global Compact and UNICEF, which give a comprehensive yet non-exhaustive list of CSR requirements in relation to child rights. Corporations must:
Meet their responsibility to respect children’s rights and commit to supporting the human rights of children
Contribute to the elimination of child labour, including in all business activities and business relationships
Provide decent work for young workers, parents and caregivers
Ensure the protection and safety of children in all business activities and facilities
Ensure that products and services are safe, and seek to support children’s rights through them
Use marketing and advertising that respect and support children’s rights
Respect and support children’s rights in relation to the environment and to land acquisition and use
Respect and support children’s rights in security arrangements
Help protect children affected by emergencies
Reinforce community and government efforts to protect and fulfil children’s rights
The focus of CSR towards children aims to eliminate child labour from supply chains, but also must take the nuanced approach which includes protecting the rights of children in their core business strategy, covering all operations, employee rights, marketing, and delivery of products and services.