Principle 9 – deeper understanding

Help protect children affected by emergencies

Principle 9 calls upon business to help protect children affected by emergencies and to avoid causing or contributing to the infringement of children’s rights during emergencies.

Business should recognize and try to safeguard against the different ways armed conflict and environmental emergencies negatively impact children and children’s rights. With this in mind, human rights due diligence should be an important consideration for business during emergencies.

Business should also be aware that certain groups of children are more vulnerable during emergencies. These groups include children with disabilities, as well as displaced, migrant, indigenous, separated, and unaccompanied children. Likewise business should be aware that emergencies may affect boys and girls in different ways.

This principle also encourages business to raise awareness about the increased risks of violence, abuse and exploitation of children during emergencies. Moreover, business should lend support to humanitarian initiatives during emergency response in ways that respect and support children’s rights. Finally, Principle 9 calls upon business to support sustainable peace and development.

Companies should think about emergencies all the time and not only when it happens. This means that companies should have a program to reduce and mitigate damage. Young person in Brazil

Case Study: Over 60 million children are affected by conflict or emergencies every year

Millions of children worldwide are affected by emergencies of various sorts. Over the last two decades, the number of natural disasters has increased fourfold. We never know when and where the next disaster will appear, but we do know that children are among those groups that are hit the hardest whenever an emergency occurs. Businesses working in these conditions should make sure that emergency plans will ensure an appropriate response. Businesses should, for instance, raise awareness among their employees regarding the increased risks and potential for human rights violations that are so often associated with crises and conflicts. Concurrently, businesses could also use their advanced technology to search for refugee children and unite them with family members. This example is an excellent way of using the core business operation of a company to help society’s most vulnerable and most important: children. 

Disaster Risk Reduction Skills and Knowledge

Since 2005, Save the Children Sweden and its partners have worked with 25 schools in tsunami-affected areas in Thailand to enhance disaster risk reduction skills and knowledge among children. This child-led disaster risk reduction programme has empowered children and young people through a variety of activities, including the promotion of disaster preparedness in schools and communities. The programme has also given children confidence in assessing disaster risk in their communities, as well as the knowledge of what to do should a disaster occur.

Mental Health Issues During and After Emergencies, according to the World Health Organization (WHO):

  • Children are among the most likely to need special attention in a crisis

  • People who feel safe, connected, calm and hopeful; have access to social, physical and emotional support; and find ways to help themselves after a disaster will be better able to recover long-term from mental health effects

  • Key signs of distress include symptoms such as headaches, fatigue, loss of appetite, aches and pains; grief and crying; insomnia and nightmares; survivor guilt; disorientation and confusion. For further information visit WHO.

 Some Facts on Child Soldiers

  • There are approximately 250,000 children involved in armed conflicts around the world

  • There are approximately 20 countries that have child soldiers in various armed groups

  • Another 40 countries have a minimum age requirement under 18

  • Between 10% and 30% of children involved in armed conflict are girls