UN Convention on the Rights of the Child Bill

Closed 16 Oct 2020

Opened 7 Sep 2020

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Overview

United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (Incorporation) (Scotland) Bill

The Equalities and Human Rights Committee (EHRiC) wants to hear your views on the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (Incorporation) (Scotland) Bill.

The Bill

The Bill will make the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) part of Scottish law – this is often called “incorporation”. This would mean the government would have to respect the UNCRC as law, and that courts could help to decide if the government has respected or broken UNCRC law.

The UNCRC is an important agreement by countries who have promised to protect children’s rights. The UNCRC explains who children are, all their rights, and the responsibilities of governments. It covers all parts of a child’s life, like the right to:

  • be heard (Article 12)
  • have an education (Article 28)
  • to play and rest (Article 31)

This means:

  • the Scottish Government would always have to respect children’s rights when running the country
  • children’s rights would need to be respected in schools and hospitals, by the police, and other people who make decisions that affect children’s lives
  • children would be able to complain if they didn’t think their rights have been respected, including going to court in serious cases

UNICEF has more information about the 54 articles that form the UNCRC (views expressed on external sites do not necessarily reflect the views of the Scottish Parliament, or its members).

What else does the Bill do?

As well as incorporating the UNCRC, the Bill does other things to make sure that it makes a difference in children’s lives. The Bill:

  • makes sure all children and young people under 18 have their rights respected
  • makes public authorities (organisations like councils, the police and health) respect UNCRC in their work
  • lets children, young people, and people supporting them ask the courts to make sure their UNCRC rights are “enforced” (this means if children don’t think their rights have been respected and the courts agree, courts can tell public authorities to change what they do)
  • makes Scottish ministers publish a report (a Children’s Rights Scheme) that shows what work they are doing for children’s rights
  • makes Scottish ministers review the Children’s Rights Scheme every year to see how it’s working
  • makes other public authorities publish reports every 3 years to say how they are respecting the UNCRC (this is already part of another law called the “Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014)”
  • gives the courts powers to decide if new and old laws are “compatible with” (respect) the UNCRC
  • allows the Scottish Government to change Scottish laws to make sure they are “compatible with” (respect) the UNCRC
  • allows the Children and Young People's Commissioner Scotland to take cases to court on behalf of children, and provide advice to courts about the UNCRC

Background

The Bill was introduced to the Scottish Parliament on 1 September 2020. MSPs now read the Bill and talk to lots of people about it to decide whether the Scottish Parliament agrees it should be law. We want to hear what you think about these questions to help MSPs to make this decision.

Read more about the Bill on our website

Further information

Please follow the Committee on Twitter (@SP_EHRiC) or email the Committee at equalities.humanrights@parliament.scot for more information.

We plan to hear views in November or December 2020 and then write a report to the Parliament.

How to Submit your views

Please submit your views via the submission form, accessed below.

The call for written views will close at 5.00 pm on Friday 16 October 2020.

The Scottish Parliament and its Committees value diversity and seek to work towards committee witnesses being broadly representative of Scotland’s society. As such we encourage members of underrepresented groups to submit written evidence. If you need advice, please contact the Clerks on the email address: equalities.humanrights@parliament.scot

Before making a submission, please read our privacy notice about submitting your views to a Committee. This tells you about how we process your personal data. If you are under 12 years of age, please read this privacy notice.

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  • Equalities