1.1 The Scottish Ministers’ aim is for Scotland to be the best place to grow up, be educated and to bring up children and young people. Underpinning this ambition is our firm commitment to respecting, protecting and fulfilling the rights of all of our children and young people. Our approach to children’s rights is central to our wider ambition to ensure dignity, equality and human rights for all. Children’s rights have informed the development and organisation of the current Year of Young People 2018, a global first. We are determined that the legacy of this Year continues into the future.
1.2 This consultation focuses on the content and format of the Action Plan that the Scottish Ministers are required to lay before the Scottish Parliament, setting out their plans for taking forward children’s rights in line with provisions in Part 1, s.1(4)(c) of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 (2014 Act). The intention is to lay the Action Plan before Parliament later this year, following appropriate consultation and engagement activity, with children and young people and others.
Children’s Rights in Scotland
1.3 The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child ( UNCRC) sets out the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights to which all children are entitled, regardless of their circumstances or background. The UK Government ratified the UNCRC in 1991. Arrangements for taking forward the Convention and the children’s rights agenda within the UK (the signatory state Party) reflect the separate constitutional responsibilities of constituent administrations. The Scottish Ministers, therefore, have responsibilities for the progression of children’s rights in Scotland with reference to devolved public services and legislation, including in relation to education, health, childcare, housing, etc.
1.4 The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child undertakes regular reviews of how state parties, including the UK, are meeting their obligations with respect to the UNCRC. As part of this process, state parties are required to report to the UN Committee approximately every 5 years on their progress in taking forward children’s rights. The Concluding Observations following from the Committee’s most recent review of the UK state party, including Scotland, were published in final form in July 2016  .
Part 1 of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014
Duties on Scottish Ministers in relation to the rights of children
1.5 In addition to the required reporting to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, section 1(1) of 2014 Act places duties on Scottish Ministers to:
- "keep under consideration whether there are any steps which they could take which would or might secure better or further effect in Scotland of the UNCRC requirements”; and, if appropriate,
- "take any of the steps identified by that consideration”.
1.6 The Act further specifies that, in complying with these duties, the Scottish Ministers must "take such account as they consider appropriate of any relevant views of children of which the Scottish Ministers are aware” (s.1(2)). Ministers are also required to promote public awareness and understanding of the rights of the child, including amongst children (s.1(3)).
1.7 In support of these duties, the Scottish Ministers introduced a Child Rights and Wellbeing Impact Assessment ( CRWIA), which ensures that all Scottish Government portfolios consider how proposed new policies and legislation might impact on the rights and wellbeing of children and young people. The need to seek the views of children and young people is a key requirement of the CRWIA.
Duty to Report to the Scottish Parliament on Children’s Rights
1.8 In accordance with s.1(4) (a-c) of the 2014 Act, the Scottish Ministers must report to Parliament every 3 years on the "steps they have taken in that period to secure better or further effect in Scotland of the UNCRC requirements” and to promote public awareness and understanding of the rights of the child. Ministers must also set out their plans until the end of the next 3 year period.
1.9 It is proposed that this reporting requirement will be separated into a Report on the actions taken by Ministers to secure better or further effect of the UNCRC and to promote public awareness and understanding of children’s rights since the Part 1 duties first commenced in 2015. A separate Action Plan will set out key activities that will be taken forward from June 2018 until June 2021.
Engagement with Children and Young People in preparing the Action Plan
1.10 Section 1(5) of the 2014 Act requires Ministers to take such steps as they consider appropriate to obtain the views of children and young people on their 3 year plans for taking forward children’s rights.
1.11 Annex B sets out the engagement with children and young people that has taken place to date. There will be further opportunities over the coming months for more children and young people, including younger children, to contribute. The development of the Action Plan will also draw on other available sources of information about the current views and interests of children and young people across Scotland.