For Human Rights Beyond Borders

Human Rights have been locked up behind domestic bars to prevent their universal application to globalization and its much needed regulation. Extraterritorial obligations (ETOs) unlock human rights.

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Committee of the Rights of the Child member speaks before Spanish Senate on States’ ETOs in relation to combating child labour and exploitation

In a hearing before the Spanish Senate Special Commission on Child Labour and Exploitation last Monday, prof. Jorge Cardona, member of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC), gave a presentation on States’ extraterritorial obligations in the context of child labour and exploitation. Drawing on the Committee’s General Comment No. 16 on State obligations regarding the impact of business on children’s rights, prof. Cardona outlined the measures States should take in relation to regulating companies and ensuring their activities did not imply, foster, or benefit from child labour and exploitation.

He emphasised that States’ obligations in the context of the Convention on the Rights of the Child are not limited to their territory but instead correspond to their jurisdiction. Wherever a State has jurisdiction, it must put into place legislation and other measures to ensure child rights are not violated. In relation to companies, States have an obligation to regulate wherever there is a reasonable link to that State. Citing the Maastricht Principles, he explained that such link exists when a company has its centre of activity, is registered or domiciled, or has substantial business activities in that State.

The Committee member gave several examples of countries which had implemented due diligence laws, all of which placed human rights reporting obligations on companies. He emphasised that while the Committee welcomes Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives by companies, and encourages States to support these, such cannot replace the obligation of States to put into place binding regulations which ensure companies do not abuse human rights.

Watch the Spanish Senate hearing (Spanish only) here

Read the CRC General Comment No. 16 in our library