Children playing in Jakarta's Tanah Abang area, in this file photo from 2015. (Antara Photo/M. Ali Wafa)

Unicef Indonesia Urges Private Sector to Protect Children's Rights


FEBRUARY 03, 2016

Jakarta.  The United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef) on Wednesday called on the Indonesian government and the private sector to make sure that children are protected against violations of their rights as part of any business activities.

At a conference in Jakarta organized by Unicef and the Indonesia Business Council for Sustainable Development (IBCSD), representatives from the government, civil society and businesses discussed ways to better protect children, the fund said in a press release.

“All companies, whether small family businesses or large multinational corporations, make important contributions to the well-being of children by creating jobs and livelihoods for their families or through philanthropic initiatives. But the impact of business on children can also be less positive,” Gunilla Olsson, Unicef's country representative for Indonesia, was quoted as saying in the statement.

“Unicef calls upon all companies to ensure that their operations and other business activities do not harm children. Government policies should support companies in this regard including by making sure that children are protected from possible rights violations by the private sector,” she said.

Olsson expressed the desire to have comprehensive guidelines for companies on how to respect and support children's rights in the workplace and marketplace included in Indonesia's national frameworks and action plans that deal with human rights and business.

The Ministry of Justice and Human Rights suggested children’s rights should feature more prominently in the government’s National Action Plan on Human Rights (Ranham) and in the Business and Human Rights Action Plan (Ranham Bisnis) currently being developed.

“One of the key pillars of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights highlights the state’s obligation to respect, protect and fulfill human rights. However, other actors, in this case, the business community, also have the responsibility to respect human rights in all its operations and practices," said Mualimin Abdi, director general for human rights at the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights.

Nur Kholis, chairman of the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas Ham), highlighted the key role of the Ranham Bisnis in minimizing possible negative impacts of business operations on human rights and in strengthening private companies' role in Indonesia's development.

Save the Children, the UN Global Compact and Unicef in March 2012 presented the Children's Rights and Business Principles. Numerous corporations, organized in an Association of Child-Friendly Companies (Apsai), have since assessed their practices regarding their impact on children's rights.

“Unicef hopes many more companies will join the initiative and review their operations against the Children’s Rights and Business Principles," said Olsson, the Unicef representative. "Corporate social responsibility with a focus on child rights that goes beyond philanthropic investment will strengthen companies’ sustainability, reputation and risk management and will ultimately foster a stable, inclusive and sustainable business environment. In the end, it’s in the companies’ own economic interest."

“One third of the world's population are children; they are the future leaders, employees and customers of companies,” added Shinta W. Kamdani, president of the IBCSD. "In striving towards a sustainable business environment this issue should take the center stage of business sustainability. Children’s Rights and Business Principles serve as a tool for companies who are willing to go the extra mile to ensure a viable business future."