Children's rights

We want to make Scotland the best place in the world for a child to grow up. Recognising, respecting and promoting the rights of children and young people is essential to achieving this.

We are taking steps to ensure that children experience their rights, as determined by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), on a daily basis.

These steps include:

  • implementing the UNCRC across Scotland and reporting on our progress to Parliament
  • using the Child Rights and Wellbeing Impact Assessment (CRWIA) to ensure that our policies, measures and legislation protect and promote the wellbeing of children and young people

The UNCRC

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) sets out the fundamental rights of all children and young people. The UK ratified the UNCRC in 1991.

We are using the UNCRC as a framework to ensure that we consider children's rights whenever we take decisions, and to help guarantee every child a good start in life with a safe, healthy and happy childhood.

It forms the basis of our national approach for supporting children, called Getting it right for every child (GIRFEC).

We have produced guidance to help children and young people understand the UNCRC.

Monitoring our progress

Our progress is monitored by the UNCRC through a regular reporting cycle, in which the UK has to respond to issues set out by the UN Committee. We have published our response to the UK's list of issues, submitted in March 2016 for a review in May 2016, and the UNCRC's concluding observations.

From 1 April 2017, all public authorities must also report every three years on the steps they have taken under Part 3 of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 to implement the UNCRC. The first reports are due in 2020.

In December 2018 the first ministerial report to the Scottish Parliament under Part 1 of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 was published. The 'Progressing the human rights of children Scotland: 2018 report' sets out the progress made in relation to children’s rights since June 2015. 

To accompany this the 'Progressing the human rights of children in Scotland: 2018-2021 action plan' was also published. The action plan sets out our ambition to deliver the building blocks and the foundations that help children and young people to experience their rights.

Child Rights and Wellbeing Impact Assessment (CRWIA)

We designed the CRWIA approach to support Scottish Ministers in meeting their duties under Part 1 of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 and in relation to the Articles of the United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).

The CRWIA helps us to assess whether our policies, measures and legislation will realise children's rights and help protect and promote the wellbeing of children and young people.

The CRWIA can be undertaken as part of a joint impact assessment (alongside an Equality Impact Assessment, for example) provided that:

  • there is cross-referencing of issues relevant to each impact assessment
  • outputs are published separately

CRWIA guidance

We have made the CRWIA approach available for public bodies and children's services to adapt for their own use. Guidance documents and templates (updated March 2019) are below:

For additional information: see the Children's rights legislation in Scotland - quick reference guide.

Involving children and young people

Annual cabinet meeting

We hold an annual cabinet meeting with children and young people. This was first held in February 2017 at Bute House. The event will support us in developing a more coordinated approach to engaging with children and young people at a national level.

Members of the Children's Parliament and the Scottish Youth Parliament attended the 2017 cabinet meeting. Issues raised included school and teachers, safety, bullying, childen's rights, mental health and Europe.

The second annual cabinet meeting with children and young people was held on 6 March 2018. You can read the agreed actions of the second annual meeting here.

Find also out more about the 2018 Cabinet meeting.

Contacts