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Children's rights

Latest updates

New duties strengthen children's rights and wellbeing

Measures came into force on 1 April 2017 to ensure that public authorities take account of children’s rights and wellbeing in fulfilling their functions.

Duties under Part 1 of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 (2014 Act), implemented from 1 April, require specified public authorities, including all local authorities and health boards, to report every 3 years on the steps they have taken to secure better or further effect of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), an international treaty, which sets out the rights that all children have.  The first reports under these new duties are due in 2020.

The commencement of the arrangements for Part 3 (Children’s Services Planning) also come into effect on 1 April. The first children’s services plans, which are required to be in place on that date, will cover the three year period from 1 April 2017 to 31 March 2020.  Thereafter, a children’s services plan is required for each subsequent 3 year period.  The aim of children’s services plans is to improve outcomes for all children and young people in Scotland by ensuring that local planning and delivery of services is integrated, focused on securing quality and value through preventative approaches and dedicated to safeguarding, supporting and promoting child wellbeing.

Part 3 of the Act places a duty on each local authority and the relevant health board, to jointly prepare a children’s services plan for the area of the local authority covering a 3 year period.  A range of other relevant local and national bodies are expected to be either consulted with, or obliged to participate, at various stages of the development of the plan.  It also requires the local authority and relevant health board to jointly publish an annual report detailing how the provision of children’s services and related services in that area have been provided in accordance with the plan.

Letter from the Director for Children and Families regarding these new duties is available here.

Non-statutory guidance to assist public authorities in meeting their responsibilities under Part 1 can be accessed here

The Statutory Part 3 guidance is available here.


Scottish Government response to the UNCRC List Of Issues for UK

The UK’s compliance with the UNCRC will be examined formally by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child at an oral session on 23 and 24 May 2016, as part of the regular reporting cycle through which the UN monitors implementation by signatories to the core human rights treaties. In preparation for the examination, the UN Committee published a List of Issues in November last year on which it required further evidence from the UK, including the devolved administrations.
Read the List of Issues on the UN website

Full Scottish response - parts one and two

Detailed information on specific matters raised in the UN List of Issues and an update on relevant policies and legislation taken forward since the publication of the UK Government’s Fifth Periodic Report to the UNCRC (May 2014) respectively.
Read Parts one and two of the full Scottish response

Part three

Responding to the Committee’s request for specified data.
Read Part three of the full Scottish response


The full Scottish response to the List of Issues, which sets out the actions taken in Scotland to protect and promote children’s rights with reference to the specific areas identified by the UN Committee, fed into the UK-wide response, submitted to the UN on 2 March 2016.

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) sets out a holistic framework for the rights of all children and young people. The UK State Party ratified the UNCRC in 1991.

How we're promoting children's rights

  • Children's rights and UNCRC

    The UNCRC is international law, making clear what children can expect from us and our responsibilities towards them

  • Children's rights and the law

    Through the CYP Bill we're suggesting new duties on Scottish Ministers to show how they have considered children’s rights when making decisions

  • Making rights 'real'

    Implementing the Getting it right for every child approach gives us an opportunity to make the UNCRC a reality in Scotland

  • Holding us to account

    We're accountable for promoting, supporting and protecting children’s rights in Scotland

  • Publishing CRWIA

    The Child Rights and Wellbeing Impact Assessment is available for public authorities to adapt for their own use if they wish


    Children's rights materials are provided to support organisations to meet their children's rights awareness raising year 1 objectives.

Scottish Children's Rights Implementation Monitoring Group (SCRIMG)

A partnership between Scottish Government, together (Scottish Alliance for Children’s Rights) and Scotland’s Commissioner for Children and Young People, SCRIMG meets quarterly to discuss progress on implementation of the UNCRC in Scotland and related issues.
Find out more about SCRIMG including details of meetings


This Government's ambition is for Scotland to become the best place in the world for a child to grow up. Recognising, respecting and promoting rights is essential if we are to make that vision a reality. This means making practical changes in order to ensure that children experience their rights on a day to day basis, whether that be their right to be heard, to be brought up by their parents, to be protected from exploitation or to be supported in exercising their cultural beliefs.

Our approach is based on the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) – a piece of international law which makes clear what children can expect from us and what our responsibilities are towards them.  It builds on the range of broader human rights which apply to us all.  None of what the UNCRC says conflicts with the rights of others.

Making rights ‘real’ for children requires creative thinking.  We know that no one change will deliver the changes we want to see and it is important for us to use the range of tools available to us.  After all, children are affected in some way or another by almost every aspect of the Scottish Government’s work.

From 15 June 2015, Scottish Government officials will start to use a Child Rights and Wellbeing Impact Assessment (CRWIA). This will help Minsters meet their duties under Part 1 of the Children and Young People Scotland Act 2014, and in relation to the Articles of the UNCRC.
Find out more about CRWIA