Strengthening children’s rights

UNCRC to be incorporated into Scots Law.

Scotland will incorporate the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) into law to the maximum extent possible within the powers of the Scottish Parliament.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney announced the approach following an extensive public consultation.

The 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, their religion or make-up of their society. This includes rights relating to health and education, fair and equal treatment and the right to be heard.

To incorporate the UNCRC into law a Bill will be laid before Parliament next year. The Bill will allow for incorporation of the provisions of the Convention currently beyond the powers of the Scottish Parliament, should these powers change in the future.

Speaking on the 30th anniversary of the Convention, Mr Swinney said:

“Through the responses to our consultation, it is clear there is widespread support for directly and fully incorporating all of the rights set out in the Convention.

“Our Bill will take a maximalist approach. We will incorporate the rights set out UNCRC in full and directly in every case possible - using the language of the Convention. Our only limitation will be the limit of the powers of this Parliament – limits to which many of us obviously object.

“This approach will mean that the Convention on the Rights of the Child is enshrined directly into Scots law. This represents a huge step forward for the protection of child rights in Scotland.

“Every devolved body, every health board, every council and the Scottish Government itself will be legally obliged to make sure they respect children’s rights. And, if they don’t, children and young people will be able to use the courts to enforce their rights. I hope the example of Scotland incorporating the convention will spur the UK and other countries to follow suit.”


Progressing the Human Rights of Children in Scotland: An Action Plan 2018 – 2021 - Progress Report 2019

An analysis of responses to Children’s Rights: Consultation on incorporating the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child into our domestic law in Scotland

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


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