United Nations Responsible Business and Human Rights Forum, Asia-Pacific
Day 2 | 8 June
Children Affected by Migration:
The role of business
Millions of girls and boys across East Asia and Pacific are affected by migration. They may migrate alone, with their families, or remain in their country of origin while one or both parents migrate in search of opportunities to provide their children with a better life. They may be fleeing persecution or conflict and seeking asylum. Their homes may be destroyed by environmental disasters, degradation, or the impacts of climate change. Or they may be displaced by accidents from large-scale development projects.
While migration can have a positive impact on individual children and families, it can also expose children to risks including smuggling and trafficking, violence and abuse, family separation and economic exploitation, and limit their access to essential services such as healthcare, education and their right to a nationality. Businesses may cause and contribute to these risks – both directly and indirectly – through their activities and relationships.
Businesses have a responsibility to respect all human rights, including children’s rights, wherever they operate. This responsibility to respect, which is affirmed in the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and further elaborated on in the Children’s Rights and Business Principles, applies no less to children affected by migration. Human rights due diligence is an essential part of a business’s responsibility to respect human rights, including children’s rights. Over recent years, there has been a growing emphasis in the international policy arena on the steps that businesses should – indeed must – take to fulfil this responsibility as reflected in the contemporary movement towards legislation that defines mandatory human rights due diligence.
About the session
This session will spotlight how children and their best interests have been largely invisible in the policy space as well as in migration studies. It will unpack the role of the business sector in respecting and supporting children’s rights as well as the role of states in regulating business conduct as it relates to child protection risks in the context of migration with reference to the 2019 ASEAN Declaration on the Rights of Children in the Context of Migration and the subsequent Regional Plan of Action to implement its commitments. The session will look at concrete ways that companies can contribute to and address child protection risks in the context of migration. It will discuss some of the challenges as well as proven and potential solutions for how business can identify and address potential adverse impacts on children.
The session pursues the following objectives:
Share new evidence and knowledge on children affected by migration in Southeast Asia and the role of business in impacting children’s rights and well-being both positively and negatively;
Showcase regional and country-based initiatives that aim to protect children affected by migration;
Introduce participants to examples on how companies and governments can respect and advance children’s rights in the context of migration: monitoring and enforcing child labour laws, supporting working parents to enable adequate childcare, guaranteeing social protection and legal documentation for workers’ families;
Discuss how public and private sector stakeholders can strengthen initiatives and action to integrate child rights consideration into their policies, processes and decision-making as it relates to children affected by migration
Panelists will reflect on the following questions in relation to the Asia-Pacific region:
What are the ways that business impact children’s rights in the context of migration in Southeast Asia?
What can companies do to better respect and advance children’s rights in the context of migration and how can states prevent negative impacts including in Special Economic Zones?
How does corporate action to respect children’s rights link to corporate sustainability practices and the SDGs?
What are the main drivers to ensure responsible business practices with respect to safeguarding children affected by migration? What are the main challenges/deterrents?
What is the role of public policy and regulation for accelerating business action in respecting children’s rights in the context of migration?