© Murray Prior
UNICEF UK has marked Universal Children's Day by launching
in the House of Lords its new research on how different countries implement
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child
(CRC): a study of legal implementation in 12 countries looks at the
implementation of the Convention in countries beyond the UK to compile evidence
of the most effective and impactful ways of embedding children's rights into
domestic law and policy.
The 12 countries were chosen to demonstrate the variety of
ways in which different countries have chosen to legislate for children's
rights and to implement the different articles of the Convention. It provides
an international context against which to compare progress in the UK, in England,
Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
At UNICEF, children's rights is our core purpose and seeing
them realised is our fundamental aim. Although our research report shows there
is no single, prescribed approach to implementation, it does indicate that
incorporation of the CRC into domestic law provides a platform from which other
child rights measures flow. And although incorporation is not an obligation in
international law, our research shows that it can be done and it works.
The launch event was chaired by Baroness Doreen Massey - Labour Peer, staunch supporter of
children's rights and UNICEF UK
trustee - followed by a formidable list of speakers, beginning with report
authors Professors Laura Lundy from Queen's University Belfast and Ursula
Kilkelly from University College Cork who gave an overview of the research
Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF UK, recommended that the UK
Government set out a roadmap towards full incorporation of the CRC. "We know
this is a challenging ask but it's clear it can be done - even in countries
where discussions about rights take place in a sometimes hostile public and
Ross Hendry, Director of Policy and Participation at the
Office of the Children's Commissioner for England, made it clear that the
OCCE supports incorporation as a visible commitment to children, a means to
realise change, and a measure of our success in making rights real for children.
And Baroness Joan Walmsley - Liberal Democrat Peer and
sponsor of a Private Member's Bill on children's rights a couple of years ago -
asserted that governments should take a lead in this. But it's not solely about
legal reform: policy from the top can and should meet day-to-day practice as
evidenced by UNICEF UK's Rights Respecting Schools and other programmes.
So, all in all, lots of discussion which certainly got the audience
- parliamentarians, academics, lawyers and NGO reps - talking about what we can
do to try to make it happen here. Read the report and join in the conversation.
Lisa Payne is UNICEF UK's Domestic Policy and Parliamentary Manager