Scotland is to become the first devolved nation in the world to directly incorporate the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) into domestic law.
MSPs voted unanimously for the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (Incorporation) (Scotland) Bill to become law, meaning public authorities will have to comply with children’s rights.
The UNCRC sets out the specific rights that all children have to help fulfil their potential, including rights relating to health and education, leisure and play, fair and equal treatment, protection from exploitation and the right to be heard.
Directly incorporates the UNCRC as far as possible within the powers of the Scottish Parliament
Makes it unlawful for public authorities and anyone undertaking functions or providing services to children with public money to act incompatibly with the incorporated UNCRC requirements
Gives power to the Children’s Commissioner to take legal action in relation to children’s rights
Requires Ministers to produce a Children’s Rights Scheme setting out how they comply with children’s rights and to report annually
Requires listed public authorities to report every three years on how they comply with children’s rights
Gives children, young people and their representatives the right to go to court to enforce their rights, if necessary
A £2.1 million programme over three years will help public authorities implement the legislation. This will include funding for guidance and training to help public authorities prepare for implementation. Work will also be done to empower children to claim their rights.
Children and Young People’s Commissioner for Scotland Bruce Adamson said:
“Scotland has shown real human rights leadership in incorporating the UNCRC into Scots law. It is the most important thing we can do to protect and uphold the rights of children and young people.
“Exactly 18 years ago, the Scottish Parliament showed its commitment to children’s rights by creating the office of the Children’s Commissioner and today it has reinforced that commitment by passing the Scottish Government’s world-leading children’s human rights legislation.
“This will improve life for all children but children whose rights are most at risk will feel the biggest impact.”
Kenneth Gibson MSP said:
“I was delighted to vote in favour of this landmark legislation.
“Every SNP policy has the interest of Scotland’s people at heart and I am delighted that despite the coronavirus pandemic, we have managed to incorporate these rights within this Parliamentary session.”