Improving children’s rights

Consultation on incorporating the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The Scottish Government is seeking views on how best to incorporate the UN’s ‘gold standard’ for children’s rights into Scots Law and improve the lives of children and young people.

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) is the most complete statement of children’s rights ever produced and sets out the rights of every child, irrespective of where they live, the religion they follow or the make-up of their society. This includes rights to be treated fairly and equally, the right to be as healthy as possible, and the right to be heard.

Incorporating the UNCRC will strengthen existing work to protect and respect children, and the consultation seeks views on the best way to do this within the context of Scots law, and the powers of the Scottish Parliament.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney said:

“The UNCRC is recognised internationally as the ‘gold standard’, and we believe it is time to incorporate the UNCRC into domestic law.

“This will ensure that children’s rights are woven into policy, law and decision-making. Children will be empowered toknow and understand their rights and, if necessary, defend them in court.

“This will improve outcomes for children and young people and help make Scotland the best place in the world to grow up.”


Children’s rights are human rights and apply to everyone under the age of 18. Children’s rights set out within the UNCRC include the right to:

  • Life, survival and development
  • Protection from violence, abuse or neglect
  • An education that enables children to fulfil their potential
  • Be raised by, or have a relationship with, their parents
  • Express their opinions and be listened to

A guide for children and young people to the UNCRC can be viewed here.

The Programme for Government 2018-2019 committed the Scottish Government to consulting on incorporating the principles of the UNCRC into domestic law.

·       Incorporating the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child into Scots law: consultation can be viewed here.

The consultation runs until 14 August 2019.

Following consultation, the Scottish Government intends to deliver legislation in this parliamentary session.


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