Mar 24, 2016 News
While Government has the responsibility to encourage the business sector to be viable partners in the empowerment and protection of Guyana’s children, the business sector should also embrace the critical role of safeguarding these very children.
This assertion has been vocalised by Chairperson of the Rights of the Child Commission (RCC), Ms. Aleema Nasir.
She sought to emphasise this very notion when the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) convened a stakeholders’ forum, recently, to discuss rights of children in the extractive sector. It was her hope even then that the deliberations at that forum would have engendered specific policy directives and other tangible initiatives pertinent to problems related to children’s involvement in the business community.
But the Commission, Nasir said, has long been seeking to involve the business community in what she described as “the national compact of labourers in the vineyard of the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC).”
The CRC is the body of 18 independent experts that monitors the implementation of the Convention of the Rights of the Child to which Guyana is a signatory. It also monitors implementation of two Optional Protocols to the Convention on involvement of children in armed conflict and on sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography.
The Commission is the in-country arm of the CRC. And according to Nasir, the Commission acknowledges and underscores the overarching and undergirding role of the State Apparatus in the promotion, monitoring and encouraging of the business sector to observe its critical role. She said that the CRC in its General Comment No. 16 of 2013 understates the obligation, regarding the impact of the business sector on children’s rights, and provides States with guidance as to how they should:
(1) Ensure that the activities and operations of business enterprises do not adversely impact on children’s rights;
(2) Create an enabling and supportive environment for business enterprises to respect children’s rights; and
(3) Ensure access to effective remedy for children whose rights have been infringed by business enterprise acting as a private firm or State Agent.
But according to the RCC Chairperson, “The relevant literature on the social and community- oriented role of business all point to the imperative that the profit motive presumed paramount in the capitalist construct should not miniaturise or diminish its responsibility to contribute to stable communities.”
She added that a recent establishment paradigm of what constitutes child poverty promulgated in view of recent research facilitated by UNICEF points to the absence of stable communities and the lack of opportunities for human development as indicators of child poverty. As such, she is convinced that the business community in Guyana should resolve to be a viable partner in the movement to abolish the impoverishment of the Guyanese child in the communities in which they operate throughout the 10 administrative regions of Guyana.
Specifically, Nasir noted that the business community in Guyana has a critical responsibility of helping to safeguard communities from the scourges of child labour, trafficking in persons, violence against children, child prostitution and environmental degradation.
And all of these, she observed, have had some level of prevalence in the Guyanese society, breaching in the process respected articles of the CRC which by extension contributes to the impoverishment of the Guyanese child.
Nasir, however, underscored that “since the incentive regime is so pivotal in the capitalist order, perhaps as a starting point, specific initiatives can be discussed to incentivise the participation and involvement of the private sector in the empowerment and protection of Guyanese children.”
She added, “In further contemplation of the role of the private sector in ensuring the rights of Guyana’s children I point you to the recent UN Development Report which articulates a cluster of policy options aims at ensuring workers’ wellbeing.”
And among the strategies for workers’ wellbeing is: guaranteeing workers’ rights and benefits, extending social protection and addressing inequalities. “These strategies I posit, moreover, are very relevant to children’s wellbeing as they will positively affect families,” said Nasir.
“The private sector in Guyana is encouraged to embrace them. I assume when the review and research is conducted into the decline of the traditional economic sectors of sugar and bauxite, the impact of Guyanese families will be accentuated.”
The RCC is moreover urging the business sector, Nasir said “to commit to a just, fair and equitable relation of production beneficial to the stability of Guyanese families.”
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