The Scottish Government is seeking views on how best to incorporate the UN’s ‘gold standard’ for children’s rights into Scots Law and improve the lives of children and young people. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) is the most complete statement of children’s rights ever produced.
It sets out the rights of every child, irrespective of where they live, the religion they follow or the make-up of their society. This includes rights to be treated fairly and equally, the right to be as healthy as possible, and the right to be heard.
Incorporating the UNCRC will strengthen existing work to protect and respect children, and the consultation seeks views on the best way to do this within the context of Scots law, and the powers of the Scottish Parliament.
Deputy First Minister John Swinney said: “The UNCRC is recognised internationally as the ‘gold standard’, and we believe it is time to incorporate the UNCRC into domestic law. This will ensure that children’s rights are woven into policy, law and decision-making. Children will be empowered to know and understand their rights and, if necessary, defend them in court. This will improve outcomes for children and young people and help make Scotland the best place in the world to grow up.”
Commenting on the consultation, Professor Richard Olver, Chair of Children’s Health Scotland said: “We warmly welcome the launch of the Scottish Government’s consultation on the incorporation of the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child into Scottish law. Promoting the healthcare rights and needs of children and young people lies at the heart of what Children’s Health Scotland stands for and we agree with the Scottish Government that incorporation of the UNCRC has the potential to transform the experience of children, young people and their families across Scotland. However, it is one thing to have it woven into policy, quite another to give it effect in decision making and action, which are key to making a difference to children’s lives.”
Bruce Adamson, Children and Young People’s Commissioner said that incorporating the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child is the most important thing that Scotland can do to protect children’s human rights. He said: “Full and direct incorporation of the UNCRC will mean that those in power can be held to account to ensure children have what they need to thrive including good quality healthcare, housing, education, nutritious food and a clean environment.
“The Government has committed to make this a reality for children in Scotland in this parliamentary session and by November 2019, the 30th anniversary of the UNCRC, the Scottish Government’s own proposed Bill must be before the Parliament to ensure that happens.
“Last year a group of international experts presented a draft bill to the Deputy First Minister and the Minister for Children and Young People to inform this process of legislative change in Scotland.
“It is vital that this consultation quickly results in tangible and concrete changes to Scots law to fully incorporate UNCRC in its entirety and ensure that children’s human rights are realised in Scotland.”
Children’s rights are human rights and apply to everyone under the age of 18. Children’s rights set out within the UNCRC include the right to:
• Life, survival and development
• Protection from violence, abuse or neglect
• An education that enables children to fulfil their potential
• Be raised by, or have a relationship with, their parents
• Express their opinions and be listened to
A guide for children and young people to the UNCRC can be viewed here.
The Programme for Government 2018-2019 committed the Scottish Government to consulting on incorporating the principles of the UNCRC into domestic law.
Incorporating the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child into Scots law: consultation can be viewed here.
The consultation runs until 14 August 2019.
Following consultation, the Scottish Government intends to deliver legislation in this parliamentary session.