Holding Food Companies Responsible for Unhealthy Food Marketing to Children: Can International Human Rights Instruments Provide a New Approach?

University of New South Wales Law Journal, Vol. 41, No. 2, 2018

Sydney Law School Research Paper No. 18/21

42 Pages Posted: 13 Apr 2018  

Elizabeth Handsley

Flinders University

Belinda Reeve

The University of Sydney Law School

Date Written: April 13, 2018

Abstract

Public health advocates argue that unhealthy food marketing to children infringes children’s rights, given its link to obesity, and that states have an obligation under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (‘UNCRC’) to protect children from such marketing. This article explains how international human rights concepts could be used to impose obligations directly on companies to modify their practices to protect children from unhealthy food marketing. We draw on the global governance framework that creates human rights obligations for businesses, and evaluate voluntary codes and initiatives on responsible marketing to children in Australia, to see whether they satisfy the obligations imposed under this framework and the UNCRC. Finding significant limitations in these measures, we set out recommendations for how the food industry could take an approach to food marketing that places children’s best interests as a primary consideration.

Keywords: Food advertising, childhood obesity, human rights, corporate social responsibility, regulation

JEL Classification: I18, K10, K30, K32, M38

Suggested Citation

Handsley, Elizabeth and Reeve, Belinda, Holding Food Companies Responsible for Unhealthy Food Marketing to Children: Can International Human Rights Instruments Provide a New Approach? (April 13, 2018). University of New South Wales Law Journal, Vol. 41, No. 2, 2018 ; Sydney Law School Research Paper No. 18/21. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3161868

Elizabeth Handsley

Flinders University ( email )

Adelaide S.A. 5001
Australia

HOME PAGE: http://www.flinders.edu.au/people/elizabeth.handsley

Belinda Reeve (Contact Author)

The University of Sydney Law School ( email )

New Law Building, F10
The University of Sydney
Sydney, NSW 2006
Australia

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