UN Committee calls on Ireland to ensure that business respects children’s rights

The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child has called on Ireland to take measures to ensure that the rights of the child are respected by companies. In an advance version of its Concluding Observations on Ireland’s third and fourth periodic reports under the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Committee includes a section ‘Children’s rights and the business sector’ (as has increasingly been the case with its Concluding Observations).

While welcoming Ireland’s progress on a national action plan on business and human rights, the Committee has expressed concern that the Working Outline of this plan “does not contain any firm commitment to children’s right”. In particular, the Committee is of the view that this undertaking has not sufficiently taken into account General Comment No. 16 issued by the Committee in 2013 on the impact of the business sector on children’s rights.

The Committee recommends that Ireland “establish and implement regulations to ensure that the business sector, including in the context of public procurement, complies with international and national human rights, labour, environment and other standards, particularly with regard to children’s rights”. More specifically, the Committee on the Rights of the Child recommends that Ireland:

  • Strengthen its regulatory framework for the industries and enterprises operating in the State party to ensure that their activities do not negatively affect children’s rights or endanger environmental and other standards;
  • Establish independent mechanisms to monitor implementation by business enterprises of international and national environment and health standards, and appropriately sanction and provide remedies when violations occur, as well as ensure that appropriate international certification is sought;
  • Require companies to undertake assessments, consultations, and full public disclosure of the environmental, health-related and human rights impacts of their business activities and their plans to address such impacts; and,
  • Be guided by the United Nations “Protect, Respect and Remedy” Framework, accepted unanimously in 2008 by the Human Rights Council, while implementing these recommendations.

Aside from these general recommendations, the Committee also raised its concerns regarding children in direct provision:

The Committee is concerned about reports that the majority of children in an asylum-seeking or refugee situation are accommodated in privately run centres that are not covered by national standards relating to children and that the majority of inspections and evaluations of such centres are carried out by an internal inspectorate which is not adequately independent.

The Committee recommends that such children must have “the same standards and access to support services as Irish children”, and urged independent inspection of all refugee accommodation centers.

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