International treaties and agreements

International conventions for countries

  • The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) was adopted unanimously by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948. This declaration may well be the most important document in international agreements between countries on human rights, including the rights of children.
  • The International Convention on the Rights of the Child (ICRC) recognises the right of every child to be protected from economic exploitation and from performing work that is hazardous or harmful to their health and development or that interferes with their education. It also requires governments to set a minimum age for employment and to provide for appropriate hours and conditions of employment. (Article 32.1.)


International agreements that require action by businesses

  • The UN Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights (also known as the ‘Ruggie Principles’) contain the most important international guidelines on the role businesses are expected to play in eliminating child labour, for example. They also set out the obligations of governments to ensure that businesses adhere to these guidelines. Businesses and governments together have to ensure that problems are solved for the victims. The UN Principles are endorsed internationally and included in shortened form in the OECD Guidelines.
  • The OECD guidelines give companies practical advice on cross-border business and corporate social responsibility. These are recommendations by the governments of the OECD countries, mostly Western countries, to companies in their countries on how to conduct themselves abroad in areas like human rights, the environment and avoiding involvement in corruption.