Historic moment for children’s rights in Scotland


On 16 March 2021 Scotland became 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, in Holyrood, 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 Bill will commence six months from Royal Assent, signalling a culture shift that has the potential to transform children’s lives in Scotland. For those working in Early Learning and Childcare the existing rights based approach will be strengthened by the passing of this bill.

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.

The Bill:

  • 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.

Source NDNA

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