© Murray Prior
On 22 January, UNICEF UK hosted the third of four planned
events to promote its new research: "The
UN Convention on the Rights of the Child: a study of legal implementation in 12
countries". Taking place in the Scottish Parliament, the event was ably chaired by Neil
Bibby MSP, Shadow Minister for Children and Young People.
wanted to better understand how other countries have brought children's rights
into domestic law and policy development - to show not only that it can be done
but that it does make a difference.
The research team was led by Professors Laura Lundy from
Queen's University Belfast and Ursula Kilkelly from University College Cork. Although
the report shows there is no single set approach to implementing the Convention
on the Rights of the Child (CRC), it does indicate that incorporation of the
CRC into domestic law provides a platform from which other child rights
measures flow. Both the process of incorporation (including awareness-raising
and training) and the result (where the CRC becomes part of the decision-making
system) have significant value in mainstreaming children's rights, and in
making them 'real'.
We know that Scotland
has ambitious plans for children's rights. However, we are still waiting to see
the detail of what is proposed in the forthcoming Children and Young People
Bill. At the event, Aileen Campbell MSP (Scotland's Minister for Children
and Young People) pointed out the progress already made and what is to come, emphasising
that children's rights measures must be practical and effective. Although the
CRC is influencing legislative developments in Scotland, she wants it to be
balanced against safeguards that allow the Scottish Government to ensure that
decisions made are reasonable.
laid out UNICEF UK's
recommendations that the new Bill require Scottish ministers and public bodies
to 'act compatibly' with the CRC and that the Scottish Government publish a children's rights implementation scheme. We
also want the UK Government to set out a roadmap towards full incorporation of
As our final speaker, Professor Kay Tisdall from Edinburgh University, noted; rights are not only
legal concepts, they also represent a value base. If we truly value children
and young people, then we need to respect them - for the contributions they
already make to family and community, and for their views individually and
collectively. We need to recognise this in law.
is Domestic Policy and Parliamentary Manager at UNICEF UK