United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child: consultation analysis

Analysis of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) consultation responses and events which took place over summer 2019.

6. Additional findings

As noted in section 1.2 of this report, 35 responses to the consultation were submitted in Word or PDF form (rather than online directly following the structure of the consultation questions). Of these, 31 responses provided wider narrative surrounding the consultation and/or children’s rights (in addition to any commentary directly relating to consultation questions). This section provides a summary of the key views raised within this wider narrative. 

A total of 26 responses provided detail on their organisation’s objectives and/or the nature of the work they undertake. These commentaries frame the remainder of their response, clarifying how their own work relates to children’s rights and noting, where relevant, any particular groups of people they support or campaign on their behalf. This detail, therefore, provides an indication of any particular expertise the organisation has in relation to children’s rights. Appendix A provides a list of those respondents who consented to have their response published. 

Eight responses provided high-level commentary on the potentially positive impact on children’s rights following incorporation of the UNCRC. These responses emphasised that incorporating the UNCRC is a way to ensure meaningful change to the lives of children in Scotland. Incorporation is seen as the best way of ensuring children’s rights are given substantial protection in law, which will lead to the best outcomes for children. As such, incorporation is seen as the best way to reflect Scotland’s ambition for children’s wellbeing and making Scotland the best place to for children to grow up.

“Putting children’s rights into domestic law will send a strong and clear message about the type of society we wish Scotland to be; a society that values and respects children and young people and puts the best interests of our children and young people at the heart of everything it does. One that is, genuinely, the best place in the world for children to grow up.” (Charity / non-profit organisation)

Four responses included narrative and evidence – based on their organisational expertise – on why additional protection for children’s rights is needed. These responses provided a narrative based on their own experience of supporting people facing particular challenges and the negative impact they have seen such challenges have on the wellbeing of children. For example, these responses report on the negative impact that issues such as homelessness, alcohol abuse, learning disabilities and contact with the criminal justice system have on children’s rights. These responses therefore share evidence on why incorporation is a vital next step in the protection of children’s rights.

“Having a household member in prison is recognised as an adverse childhood experience. As most primary caregivers are mothers, the impact of maternal imprisonment is particularly devastating for children.   It is estimated that around 27,000 children in Scotland experience parental imprisonment each year. Only 5% of children remain in their family home when a mother goes to prison… Full incorporation of the UNCRC should lead to better protection of children’s rights in these circumstances, including consideration of the child’s best interests at all stages of the criminal justice process.” (Charity / non-profit organisation)  

Four responses raised practical issues which must be considered during implementation. Three of these responses provided commentary on how duty bearers (public bodies) will need to be supported during implementation and practical issues (such as resourcing, leadership and public engagement) which will need to be considered carefully. These responses drew attention to particular actions which might need to be taken to ensure incorporation progresses smoothly and has the best outcomes for children. The fourth response drew attention in particular to how incorporation provides an opportunity to strengthen youth work provision and how youth services could best respond to implementation requirements, including ensuring processes for engagement with children and young people. 

“The majority of the UNCRC articles will have direct or indirect implications on local authorities and so it is crucial, for effective delivery of services, that these implications are thought through carefully and resourced sufficiently.” (Public body)

Three responses provided a narrative on the development of the UNCRC. These responses prefaced the remainder of their consultation response by presenting an overview of the history of the UNCRC and the international role it has played in securing children’s rights. They also provided commentary on the United Kingdom’s ratification of the UNCRC and how this relates to incorporation of the UNCRC into domestic law. 

Three responses included commentary on why and how children and young people need support to exercise their rights. Two respondents reported that young people felt they can face discrimination due to their age. The other respondent provided commentary on why and how children need advocacy support to overcome challenges associated with exercising their rights. 

“Article 12 of the UNCRC states that children have the right to be listened to, and taken seriously. This means that children and young people must be given the information they need to make good decisions and that their views and opinions need to be considered in decisions that are made about them. However, many children will, in practice, require significant support to make this a reality.” (Charity / non-profit organisation)

Three responses provided narrative on how children’s rights should look in practice. These responses were based on consultation with children and young people, who described how children’s rights would be seen on a day-to-day basis and key components they felt were essential to the protection of children’s rights. Examples included good quality housing, healthcare and education, and equality with children’s rights across the world.

Two responses explained why and how protection for children’s rights must align with other protections, specifically women’s rights, gender equality, and prevention of violence against women and girls. These responses emphasised that children’s rights are inextricable from such other protections, as the two often go hand-in-hand and cannot be appropriately addressed separately. As such, these responses feel that incorporation of the UNCRC provides opportunity to address women’s rights, gender equality and the prevention of violence against women and girls; for example, through increasing visibility for these issues and through consideration of incorporating the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) at the same time. 

“The UNCRC and CEDAW have sometimes been referred to as ‘sister conventions.’ It is commonly observed that children’s rights and women’s rights go hand-in-hand, and that children’s rights, safety and opportunities to flourish depend necessarily on women’s rights, safety and opportunities.” (Charity / non-profit organisation)

One response discussed how incorporation could be designed in order to provide suitable protection for care-experienced young people in particular. This response included detail on what a draft incorporation Bill should include to make UNCRC rights real for care-experienced young people.


Email: alexandra.devoy@gov.scot

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