The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) is an international human rights treaty which sets out the rights every child has. The UK ratified the UNCRC in 1991 but it has not yet been made part of domestic law. This means that many of the protections contained within it are not accessible to children and young people across the UK.
Scotland is in a unique position to make children's rights part of its laws. This process is called incorporation.
In March 2021, after over 10 years of campaigning by children, young people and wider civil society, the Scottish Parliament passed a bill that will make children's rights part of the law in Scotland.
UNCRC (Incorporation) (Scotland) Bill
The UNCRC (Incorporation) (Scotland) Bill was introduced to the Scottish Parliament on 1st September 2020 and was passed unanimously on 16th March 2021. The main purpose of the Bill is bring the UNCRC into Scots law.
The First Minister said the Bill would incorporate the UNCRC into Scots law "fully and directly", to the maximum extent of the Scottish Parliament's powers and be passed before the end of the current parliamentary term.
The Bill says that:
- Public authorities must not act in a way that’s incompatible with the UNCRC requirements.
- Courts will have powers to decide if legislation is compatible with the UNCRC requirements.
- Scottish Government can change laws to make sure they are compatible with the UNCRC requirements
- The Children and Young People’s Commissioner Scotland and Scottish Human Rights Commission will have powers to take legal action to protect children's rights.
- Scottish Government must publish a Children’s Rights Scheme to show how it is meeting UNCRC requirements and explain their future plans to progress children’s rights.
- Scottish Government must review how the Children's Rights Scheme is working each year.
- Other authorities listed in the Bill must report every three years on what they are doing to meet the UNCRC requirements.
Read more about the Bill's journey through parliament below.