Activities of business enterprises operating in various industries can have an adverse impact on internationally recognised human rights. From child labour and privatisation of essential services, to pollution and chemical exposure severely affecting children’s health, corporate activities have resulted in serious children’s rights violations around the world.
In the absence of an international legal framework obliging companies to respect human rights, individuals and communities as well as non-governmental organisations and governments have brought legal action in domestic courts to hold corporations accountable for their abuses. Non-judicial complaints mechanisms, such as the OECD guidelines complaints procedure, have also been utilised to challenge children’s rights violations committed by business entities.
CRIN has carried out research on business and children’s rights cases, including civil, criminal, constitutional and administrative cases around the world. On this page you will find cases sorted by theme with links to summaries of court judgments in our legal database, as well as to significant court settlements and National Contact Points’ final statements regarding OECD complaints.
With this information we intend to not only shed light on corporate abuses of children’s rights, but also illustrate how judicial and non-judicial complaints mechanisms can provide remedies for business-related children’s rights violations. We aim to encourage children’s rights advocates to consider bringing complaints to challenge these violations in order to ensure access to justice for child victims.
We will continue to update this page with links to business and children’s rights cases. Please email your suggestions to [email protected].
Right to life and health
- P.P. et al. v. Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc. and Johnson & Johnson et al (2015) (case concerning presciption of drugs to children without warning of the side effects in the United States)
- Juan Carlos Puentes Soto v. Empresa de Servicios Publicos del Municiio de la Argentina Huila (2014) (concerning the right to water)
- Rabi Abdullahi v. Pfizer Inc. (2009) (concerning medical experimentation on non-consenting children)
- Castillo v. Du Pont De Nemours Co Inc (2003) (holding that an agricultural fungicide was responsible for a rare birth defect)
Access to education
- Governing Body of the Juma Musjid Primary School and Others v. Ahmed Asruff Essay N.O. and Others (2011) (concerning the eviction of a school by a private landlord in South Africa)
Access to justice
- Anvil Mining Ltd. v. ACCI (Association Canadienne Contre l'Impunité) (2012) (holding that there is no real and substantial link between Quebecois courts and a company incorporated in Quebec to establish jurisdiction over its activities in the DRC)
Right to housing
Shell v. Councillor F.B. Farah and others (1995) (concerning compensation for five families for land damage after an oil blowout in Nigeria)
Child labour and child trafficking
Flomo v. Firestone Natural Rubber Co LLC (2011) (concerning corporate liability in the United States for hazardous child labour on a rubber plantation in Liberia)
Global Witness v. Afrimex (UK) Ltd (2008) (holding that the company failed to take due diligence to ensure no child labour in its supply chain in the DRC)
John Doe and others v. Nestle USA and others (2015) (whether a case against companies buying cocoa from farms in Cote d'Ivoire using child slave labour may proceed in the United States)
Sherpa and ECCHR v. Devcot (2012) (a series of complaints against companies for purchasing cotton harvested by children in Uzbekistan)
Crimes against humanity
- Sarei et al. v. Rio Tinto Plc. (2011) (concerning jurisdiction in the United States over genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity occuring in foreign jurisdictions)
- Presbytarian Church of Sudan et al v. Talisman Energy and the Republic of Sudan (2009) (concerning the liability of organisations for aiding and abetting international law on genocide, torture, war crimes and crimes against humanity)
Minority or indigenous children
- Orissa Mining Corporation v. Ministry of Environment & Forest & Others (2013) (holding that the decision to reject environmental clearance for the construction of a mine due the impact on indigenous tribes is lawful)
- Aqua Mineral Chusmiza v. Comunidad Indigena de Chusmiza Usmagama (2009) (concerning ancestral water rights for indigenous communities)
- Survival International v. Vedanta Resources plc (2009) (finding that a mining company did not adequately consult or consider the impact of its operations on an indigenous community in India)
- Accion de tutelainstaurada por Orlando Jose Morales Ramos v. La Sociedad Drummond Ltd (2013) (concerning liability for the harmful effects of coal extraction)
- Maria Aguinda Salazar and others v. Chevron Corporation (2013) (concerning liability for environmental damage)
Access to information
- Arcelormittal South Africa Ltd v Vaal Environmental Justice Alliance (2014) (case concerning an environmental organisation's right to access information from a mining and steel company in South Africa)
Guide to General Comment no. 16 for civil society
CRIN and the International Commission of Jurists have produced a joint guide for civil society on the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child’s General Comment no. 16 on business and children’s rights (GC 16).
This guide is intended to serve as a practical resource for advocates interested in challenging negative impacts of businesses on children’s rights. While GC 16 is mostly addressed at States, civil society has a crucial role to play in the promotion and protection of children’s rights. They can also make use of international mechanisms such as those available with the Committee on the Rights of the Child, support children to have access to justice and remedies and engage in strategic litigation on behalf of affected children. Civil society serves as a watchdog drawing public attention to existing or potential corporate abuses; and holding States and businesses to account for their failure to abide by their obligations, as elaborated under GC 16, to ensure that business activity does not infringe or hinder the enjoyment or realisation of children’s rights.
Read the joint guide.
CRIN's submission on the proposed draft general comment of the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
UN Committee on the Rights of the Child’s General Comment no. 16 on State obligations regarding the impact of the business sector on children’s rights (2013)
Children's Rights and Business Explained: A plain-language version of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child's General Comment no. 16 on State obligations regarding the impact of the business sector on children's rights (UNICEF and Save the Children, 2015)
Obligations and Actions on Children's Rights and Business: A practical guide for States on how to implement the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child's General Comment no. 16 (UNICEF and International Commission of Jurists, 2015)