Child Labour: Should Companies 'Stand at Bay' or 'Enter the Water'?
Journal of the Indian Law Institute, Vol. 56, pp. 143-174, April-June 2014
32 Pages Posted: 1 Oct 2015
Date Written: 2014
This article explores the responsibility of corporations regarding child labour. It offers a critical review of a representative sample of the relevant regulatory regimes to ascertain the nature of corporate responsibility outlined therein. All regulatory regimes, especially those that were drafted in the 20th century, focus mostly on a negative responsibility of not hiring children below a certain age. However, the goal of eliminating child labour cannot be accomplished unless this negative ‘static’ responsibility is complemented with other ‘responsive’ measures aimed at dealing with the root causes of child labour. This article, therefore, develops the idea of responsive responsibility. It is contended that instead of merely obligated not to employ children below the minimum age, companies should also be obligated to take positive measures such as providing education or suitable vocational training to such children, or offering employment to the adult members of the children’s family. In other words, companies should not only have a responsibility to respect, but also a responsibility to protect and fulfill rights of children.
Keywords: Child labour, Corporate social responsibility, Responsive responsibility, Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, Children’s Rights and Business Principles, Nike’s Code of Conduct
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