On 1st September 2020 the Scottish Government introduced the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (Incorporation) (Scotland) Bill in the Scottish Parliament. The Bill is currently at Stage 1, and is being examined by the Equalities and Human Rights Committee

This Leaflet explains the Bill, which will:  

  • Directly incorporate the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) into Scots law, to the maximum extent of the Scottish Parliament’s powers 
  • Apply to all children and young people under the age of 18 
  • Place a duty on public authorities, defined widely, to not act incompatibly with UNCRC requirements, and private bodies when exercising functions of a public nature 
  • Mean that children and young people and their representatives can use the courts in Scotland to enforce their UNCRC rights (section 7 – Proceedings for unlawful acts) 
  • Give the Children and Young People’s Commissioner Scotland the power to take legal action in the public interest if children’s rights under the UNCRC are breached (giving him similar powers in respect of the UNCRC as the Equality and Human Rights Commission has in respect of the ECHR) 
  • Give courts powers to decide if legislation is compatible with UNCRC requirements (with different remedies for incompatible legislation which pre-dates and legislation which post-dates Bill due to constitutional limitations)  
  • Require Ministers to publish a Children’s Rights Scheme to show how they are meeting UNCRC requirements and explain future plans for children’s rights  
  • Give remedial powers to enable Ministers to take steps to rapidly remedy incompatible or potentially incompatible legislation.  

We welcome the Bill, which intends to enable a proactive culture of day to day accountability for children’s rights.

We submitted our views to the Equalities and Human Rights Committee in October 2020, available here.

Our response to the original consultation on incorporation of the UNCRC in August 2019 is available here