Multistakeholder Consultation on MCRB’s Child Rights and Business Briefing Paper
Multistakeholder Consultation on MCRB’s Child
Rights and Business Briefing Paper
6 December 2016
Rose Garden Hotel, Yangon
Current core funders:
• UK DFID
15 Shan Yeiktha Street, Sanchaung, Yangon
Tel/Fax: 01 510069
To provide an effective and legitimate platform for the creation
of knowledge, capacity and dialogue concerning responsible
business in Myanmar, based on local needs and international
standards, that results in more responsible business practices.
တာဝန္ယူမႈရွိေသာ အသိပညာ၊ စြမ္းေဆာင္ရည္ႏွင့္ စကားဝိုင္းမ်ား
ျဖစ္ေပၚလာေစရန္အတြက္ ထိေရာက္ေသာ တရားဝင္
MCRB defines ‘responsible business’ as ‘business activities
that work for the long-term interests of Myanmar and all its
MCRB ၏အဓိပၸါယ္ဖြင့္ဆိုခ်က္ “ျမန္မာျပည္သူျပည္သားမ်ား၏
Myanmar Centre for Responsible Business
focusses on these elements:
Creating Shared Value
Which part is ‘Corporate Social Responsibility’ (CSR)? Where are potential human rights impacts?
Responsible Business Conduct
ငန္း၏လုပ္ေဆာင္ရမည္႔လုပ္ငန္းမ်ား Social or community investment or contribution
• Introductions – your role and interest in child rights and business
• Presentation on the Principles and the Briefing Paper
• Your input sought - principle by principle
-Facts correct? Updates?
-Recommendations correct? additional?
-‘Linked Initiatives’ paper
• Deadline for comments 31 January 2017
The Children’s Rights and Business Principles
The CRBP were developed in 2012 by UNICEF, SAVE, and the UN Global Compact.
The CRBP are comprehensive and address all aspects of the intersection of children and business,
not just child labour.
They are based on international law and standards, including the CRC, ILO Conventions, and WHO
We took the Principles as our organizing structure for this paper because they are a relevant guide for
all businesses in their interactions with children.
The CRBP provide recommendations to companies on both respecting children’s rights and supporting
With the exception of Principle 10, we only focus on how companies can respect children’s rights.
1. Meet their responsibility to respect children’s rights
and commit to supporting the human rights of
2. Contribute to the elimination of child labour,
including in all business activities and business
3. Provide decent work for young workers, parents and
4. Ensure the protection and safety of children in all
business activities and facilities
5. Ensure that products and services are safe, and seek
to support children’s rights through them
6. Use marketing and advertising that respect and
support children’s rights
7. Respect and support children’s rights in relation to
the environment and to land acquisition and use
8. Respect and support children’s rights in security
9. Help protect children affected by emergencies
10. Reinforce community and government efforts to
protect and fulfil children’s rights
The Children’s Rights and Business Principles
‘All businesses should meet their responsibility to respect children’s rights and commit to
supporting the human rights of children’.
For decades children in Myanmar (34% of the population) have been denied many CRC rights due to
longstanding poverty, lack of education, ongoing armed conflict, and inadequate health care.
Four General Principles of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC)
The right to non-discrimination.
The best interests of the child.
The right to life, survival, and development.
The right of the child to be heard.
1993 Child Law (under revision) vs. CRC
Child Law defines children as under 16; CRC as under 18.
Minimum age of criminal responsibility is 7 years; CRC is minimum 12 years.
No specific age for marriage.
No specific prohibition of corporal punishment.
These deficiencies reflected in Myanmar society, including business.
Principle 1 – Recommendations to business
Low birth registration, especially in remote areas, means that it may be difficult for employers to verify
ages of potential workers.
In interactions with, and impacts on children, businesses should consider a rights-based approach,
rather than just a charitable or needs-based one.
Guard against discrimination against children belonging to ethnic or religious minorities.
Consider that impacts of poverty, poor health and education, make children more vulnerable to
‘All businesses should contribute to the elimination of child labour, including in all business activities and
Working children (permissible areas of work) vs. child labour.
CL – under the legal minimum working age; over legal age but under 18, working in conditions in contravention
of international treaties, especially slavery-like practices; hazardous work; other worst forms of child labour ( for
example forced labour, trafficking etc - ILO C 182).
In Myanmar 10.5% of children between 5 – 17 are working; 9.3% of children in child labour (Labour Force
60.5% in agriculture, fishing, forestry; 12% manufacturing; 11% trade; 6% other services. 80% working children
live in rural areas.
MCRB SWIA findings – child labour in ICT (tower and trench construction); tourism (guides, hotels, selling
items); mining (small scale mining, exposure to dangerous chemicals, cyanide etc.); mining sites dangerous to
Child Labour cont’d (Pr. 2) – ILO Myanmar reports
As is the norm, household poverty the main driver of child labour; children working to support their
Societal attitudes - child labour seen as an antidote to household poverty.
Children often have a strong sense of obligation to work; the vast majority stop education to do so.
Myanmar employers often believe they are helping poor families by employing their children.
Many children working in informal sector, not regulated by Labour Inspectorate.
Myanmar initiatives to combat child labour
Child labour recognized as problem by government; local and international NGOs; the ILO, UNICEF
and other IGOs.
Businesses can work through and with:
ILO MyPEC (Myanmar Program on the Elimination of Child Labour) aims to expand knowledge base
(field research, pilot projects); improve legal and institutional environment; improve stakeholders’
capacity to coordinate, network and advocate for elimination of child labour.
MyPEC training labour inspectors and police on how to conduct CL inspections in workplace.
ILO recommendation - employer organizations to advocate for CL elimination through tripartite
mechanism of government, employers; and trade unions.
ILO recommendation - trade unions to monitor CL in the workplace.
Myanmar initiatives to combat child labour continued
UNICEF working to develop child protection services (Department of Social Welfare) – case workers
being trained to detect and refer children found in abusive situations including CL.
UNICEF and ILO working to reform labour laws on the eradication of CL.
ILO – Child Labour Platform – to work on child labour in supply chains; develop practical ways to
overcome obstacles; collective action.
Members – multinationals and others who meet to address issues, for example CL in teashops and
CL Technical Working Group – Minister of Labour chairs, involvement of other ministries, workers and
employers organizations; civil society.
Aims of Working Group – establish a list of hazardous work prohibited to all under-18s; develop a
National Plan of Action on Child Labour.
Recommendations to companies on child labour
Ensure due diligence on child labour within operations and also in supply chains and business
Where possible, take part in collaborative efforts mentioned above.
Given the gaps in Myanmar legal framework, use international law and standards (ILO Conventions,
CRC) to establish appropriate age limits.
Don’t rely only on authorities to identify and address child labour; reach out to child rights NGOs.
‘Provide decent work for young workers, parents, and caregivers.’
‘Young workers’ – children above legal minimum working age but under 18, not involved in the worst
forms of child labour including hazardous work.
Young workers between 15 – 17 constitute 75% of all working children.
Almost 75% of those in hazardous child labour are between 15 – 17.
An Occupational Health and Safety Law is drafted but not yet submitted to Parliament – it should
recognize the special H+S protections for young workers in some occupations.
Principle 3 continued – young workers
Children aged 14 and over are legally permitted to work in shops, establishments, and factories.
However children between 14 and 15 shouldn’t work more than four hours/day or engage in night
But many children work in the informal sector.
The government is now drafting the Technical and Vocational Education Law.
The 2013 Employment and Skills Development Law does not include a minimum age (which should be
14 years) or conditions for training.
Principle 3 continued – working parents and caregivers
The current social protection system is very limited, so working parents engage in different coping strategies –
These can include parents working in informal sector or pushing their children into child labour situations.
In 2016 Myanmar adopted a National Social Protection Strategic Plan, which will include cash allowances for
pregnant women, children under 2 years and between 3-15 years; school feeding programs etc. (UNICEF).
How this will be implemented and how it will be funded remains to be seen.
Women have the right to 14 weeks’ maternity leave and the right to free medical care for pregnancy and birth.
However as of January 2015 only 1.5% of the population was covered by the social security scheme.
And many women work in the informal sector, so not covered under 2012 Social Security Law or the Leave and
Principle 3 – recommendations for companies
Ensure young workers have adequate health and safety protection.
Ensure they are not subjected to harassment, bullying or exploitation because of their age.
Remove young workers from hazardous work, and provide them with other employment.
Encourage participation of young workers in workers organizations and social dialogue.
Establish family-friendly workplaces by paying a living wage, providing childcare facilities for working
parents and adequate protection for pregnant and breastfeeding workers.
Principle 4 – Protection and safety of children in
‘All business should ensure the protection and safety of children in all business activities and
Company premises in high-risk sectors such as construction sites or mines are unsafe for children,
and may be unsafe for surrounding communities.
MCRB research found that children play in and around mines. Families expressed concerns about
their children’s safety due to heavy traffic, rocks falling from trucks, exposure to dust.
Company personnel can employ domestic workers who could be underage girls and may be subjected
to abuse and exploitation. Risks include long working hours, substandard accommodation, inadequate
food, beatings and mental abuse.
Domestic workers are not protected by a specific law and prosecutions of abusive employers are rare.
Principle 4 cont’d – orphanage tourism/ ‘voluntourism’
Businesses could negatively impact children through its relationships with so-called orphanage
tourism, where tourists visit an orphanage for a few hours or pay money to volunteer at an orphanage.
In Myanmar there has been an increase in children living in orphanages.
Anecdotal evidence indicates that there is a growing demand by foreign tourists to visit orphanages or
monastic schools, or volunteer there for a few months.
MCRB’s research on the tourism sector showed that these foreign tourists do not undergo background
While most tourists’ intentions are good, there is a risk of children being exposed to paedophiles.
Also, children may suffer psychological damage when they bond with volunteers who then leave after
a few months.
UNICEF is raising awareness about orphanage tourism with the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism and
the tourism sector associations.
Principle 4 – Recommendations to companies
Establish a child protection policy which stipulates zero tolerance for violence, exploitation or abuse of
children both inside and outside company premises.
Explain the policy to company staff – for example, office computers can’t be used for downloading
illegal images, including child pornography. Even outside working hours employees are expected to
abide by the policy.
In the tourism industry refrain from offering tourists visits and volunteering opportunities to orphanages
and monastic schools.
If tourism businesses nevertheless offer such services, follow the International Voluntourism
Guidelines for Commercial Tour Operators and ensure proper screening and background checks.
Principle 5 – Safe products and Services
‘All business should ensure that products and services are safe, and seek to support children’s rights
In Myanmar with a growing economy and a young population, there are significant opportunities for
multinationals to invest in fast moving consumer goods (FMCG).
At the same time there is a lack of awareness among Myanmar consumers about food and drug safety and
potential health impacts, although the Consumer Protection Association has begun educational programs.
The 2014 Consumer Protection Law guarantees safe products and services, including food, drugs and other
commodities. But the law is considered weak and was drafted without public consultation.
Bans are planned for food products that do not have descriptions, instructions, and ingredients in Myanmar or
The Food and Drugs Authority conducts food safety education for the restaurant and food processing sectors.
With the health sector seriously underfunded, there is a lack of access to safe vaccinations and medicines for
infants and children.
Principle 5 cont’d
There is a risk of social media such as Facebook being used as a tool to lure underage Myanmar girls
for illegal trafficking, by establishing contacts with girls from poor regions who are then taken to China
for forced marriages.
Research by various organizations shows that social media is being used for the dissemination of hate
speech or cyber bullying, with children at particular risk.
Reports indicate that foreign tourists in Myanmar are using sex workers who are as young as 15,
although hard data is not available.
Myanmar does not have explicit provisions requiring Internet Service Providers to report suspected
child abuse images to law enforcement although child pornography is criminalized.
Principle 5 – Recommendations to companies
Conduct adequate research and testing to ensure that products and services are safe, in particular for
Multinational companies should offer expertise and systems to their Myanmar suppliers, contractors,
and industry peers.
Tourism companies should sign and implement the Code of Conduct for the Protection of Children
from Sexual Exploitation in Travel and Tourism.
For companies in the ICT sector, use and adopt UNICEF and ITU’s Guidance for Industry on Child
Principle 6 – Marketing and Advertising
‘All business should use marketing and advertising that respect and support children’s rights.’
• UNICEF reports that almost all Myanmar mothers breastfeed, but only 24% of babies are breastfed
exclusively for six months as recommended by the WHO and UNICEF.
• Cheaper Chinese infant formula products, which are often smuggled in and lack quality control, are
• In 2014 the Myanmar government incorporated the Order of Marketing of Formulated Food for Infant
and and Young Child to support and protect breastfeeding and to ensure appropriate use of breast
milk substitutes and monitor its marketing.
• But according to SAVE, many formula companies and distributors continue to market their products
in violations of the Order.
• To promote breastfeeding, advertising of milk powder substitutes is banned at Myanmar government
maternal health facilities, which are also prohibited from accepting samples of such.
• There are also non-governmental initiatives to address unlawful marketing of infant formula.
Principle 6 – Recommendations to companies
• Abide by the WHO Recommendations on the marketing of food and non-alcoholic products to children.
• For companies producing, marketing or distributing breast milk substitutes, comply with the Myanmar
Order. Ensure that their distributors are aware of the order and how to comply with it when marketing
and selling breast milk substitutes.
Principle 7 – children, environment, and land
‘All business should respect and support children’s rights in relation to the environment and to
land acquisition and use.’
Since the reform process began, widespread protest demonstrations against past land expropriations
by the government, often for private sector development.
Legal regime covering land is archaic and complicated – the government is in the process of reform of
land laws, but this will take time.
In the meantime, many land owners/users do not have proper documentation of their land rights, and
many are landless.
Expropriation of land means that whole families and communities have been negatively affected by
loss of their land.
Principle 7 continued
Land loss disrupts family livelihoods, as 70% of population is rural, mostly dependent on land for
If land or housing is sold or expropriated and families are resettled or have to move, schooling and
access to health care is often disrupted.
Myanmar does not have a comprehensive resettlement law or regulations.
In practice families are often moved to new locations before public services are in place there.
If schooling is disrupted, children may start working to support their families.
If families lose their land with no compensation, children may be deprived of inheriting the only asset
passed on from generation to generation.
Principle 7 continued
Myanmar is vulnerable to climate change and has a low capacity to manage climate risks.
Potential climate change impacts include sea level rise, loss of mangroves, higher incidence of
droughts, loss of biodiversity and ecosystems such as wetlands, and loss of land resources.
According to UNICEF, heavily populated Ayeyarwaddy and Bago Regions pose highest level of risk to
children in terms of hazard risk and impacts of climate change.
Natural disasters affect child safety and education by contributing to displacement, which may lead to
trafficking of children, and their increased exposure to hazardous environments.
Myanmar environmental law and regulations do not have particular requirements to consider children’s
vulnerabilities to pollution and toxicity.
Principle 7 – recommendations to companies
Avoid, or if avoidance is not possible, minimize land acquisition and use.
Use the mitigation hierarchy (avoid, minimize, compensate/offset) and try to minimize impact on land.
Ensure land due diligence covers customary land and property inheritance laws for children, especially
When displacements are unavoidable, apply international standards, including IFC Performance
Standard 5 on Involuntary Land Acquisition and Involuntary Resettlement. Relocated families and
children should have adequate housing and access to basic services, including education.
For businesses with a significant environmental impact requiring an Initial Environmental Examination
or Environmental Impact Assessment, consider direct and indirect impacts on on children.
Reduce contributions to emissions and climate change.
Principle 8 - Security
‘All business should respect and support children’s rights in security arrangements.’
Both the national army and ethnic minority armed opposition groups recruit and use child
soldiers (one of the worst forms of child labour under ILO C 182).
Children are otherwise affected by internal armed conflict and resulting internal displacement of
tens of thousands of families in northern Myanmar and Rakhine State.
Protracted internal displacement has placed children at risk of violence, abuse, and neglect,
including sexual exploitation, trafficking and early marriage.
Security concerns around private sector operations
Aside from internal armed conflict, the security of children can be affected in the context of protests by
local communities against company operations.
There have been some high profile cases of excessive use of force by the public security forces during
such protests, which can affect the whole community including children.
The use of private security personnel by both Myanmar and foreign companies has increased as the
economy has opened up economically.
There is no law in Myanmar covering private security, nor is there any government requirement for
official licenses. However private security personnel are not permitted to be armed and can only carry
Impacts that private security companies can have on children include recruiting under-18s as private
security guards or through the actions of security guards with respect to children.
Principle 8 – Recommendations to companies
Ensure that no children are recruited or used in security arrangements.
Ensure that child abuse, including physical punishment or sexual abuse, is prohibited in any situation
where security personnel come into contact with children.
For companies with larger security operations, consider requiring private security providers to become
members of the International Code of Conduct for Private Security Providers. The Code commits them
to respect the rights of children to be protected against the worst forms of child labour, and not to hire
individuals under 18 years of age to carry out security services.
Principle 9 – children affected by emergencies
‘All business should help protect children affected by emergencies.’
Myanmar is prone to humanitarian emergencies due to longstanding internal armed conflict.
It is also prone to natural disasters, including cyclones, floods, and earthquakes.
Children under five are the most vulnerable, at risk of disease, malnutrition and violence.
In Kachin and northern Shan States an estimated 49% of internally displaced people are children.
IDP children may not have access to education, and proper health care and nutrition, and are at risk of
Principle 9 continued
Governments and development partners have the primary responsibility to provide humanitarian
However governments are increasingly calling on the private sector for support.
In Myanmar companies often make philanthropic donations of emergency supplies, clothes, food,
water, and financial assistance.
After the 2015 floods, the Myanmar Information Management Unit (MIMU) produced advice to
companies, including how to ‘do no harm’ and ‘build back better’.
In 2016 the UN worked with UMFCCI to encourage companies to create a Private Sector network for
Disaster Risk Reduction, Preparedness, Response and Recovery.
Principle 9 – Recommendations to companies
Do not discriminate against any ethnic or religious group when donating goods and services.
Recognize that certain groups of children can be more vulnerable during emergencies, including those
belonging to ethnic and religious minorities, children separated from their parents, unaccompanied
children, and disabled children, and girls.
Follow MIMU advice, including building back better.
Aim to maintain affordable prices for food and other essential goods in short supply during
Consider engaging in public-private partnerships with respected humanitarian agencies.
Principle 10 – Reinforcing community and government
‘Reinforce community and government efforts to protect and fulfil children’s rights’
Over the last decades successive governments have spent very little on health, education, and social
welfare, all key services for children.
While there have been budget increases in the areas over the last five years, Myanmar spends the
least on education and health compared to the other nine ASEAN countries.
Myanmar is rich in non-renewable natural resources, which means that there is an intergenerational
equity issue in depleting such resources.
In an innovative 2013 report, UNICEF linked revenues from natural resources to improving children’s
well-being in Myanmar. For example only 0.87% of new natural gas revenues would cover the cost of
all vaccines needed annually.
Beyond natural resources revenues, expanding the tax base would provide a more reliable and
predictable source of revenue.
Principle 10 – Recommendations to Business
Pay all taxes, royalties, duties and other payments; consider disclosing the amount of tax paid and on
any lobbying positions.
When undertaking social investment programs for children, partner with local government if possible
rather than setting up parallel services. Approaches to community development which bypass local
authorities may lead to duplication and confusion.
Consult with children when developing a community initiative.
Community investments should never be a payment for damage caused by a company; nor should
they be used for marketing company products and services.