UNCRC Implementation Guidance Reference Group minutes: 11 October 2021

Minutes from the meeting of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) Implementation Guidance Reference Group held on 11 October 2021.

Attendees and apologies

In attendance:

  • Helen Fogarty (Chair), Scottish Government – HF
  • Nicola Hughes, Scottish Government - NH
  • Luiza Leite (Minutes), Scottish Government – LL 
  • Billy Pugh (Minutes), Scottish Government – BP 
  • Christine McMenamin – CM 
  • Darren Little, Dumfries and Galloway Council – DL 
  • Dragan Nastic, Unicef – DN 
  • Juliet Harris, Together – JH 
  • Suzanne Brown, SCRON – SB 
  • Cathy Assante, Scottish Human Rights Commission – CA
  • Colin Convery, Police Scotland – CC
  • Daniel Cosgrove, Unicef – DC
  • Nicola Hogg, SOLAR – NHO
  • Afson Barekat, Scottish Government – AB
  • Deborah Davison, ADES – DD
  • Deborah Wason, Public Health Scotland – DW 
  • Morag Driscoll, Law Society of Scotland – MD

Items and actions

Welcome and introductions

Chair welcomed attendees and provided an update on the Supreme Court reference published on Wednesday 6 October 2021. 

Update on the Supreme Court judgment 

Chair stated that the Scottish Government (SG) respects the judgement and will abide by it, but emphasised that the SG remains committed to the incorporation of the UNCRC into Scots law to the maximum extent possible as soon as practicable. 

Chair noted that whilst the ruling means that the Bill cannot move forward in its current form, Ministers intend to continue with the majority of implementation work. SG will take time to consider the ruling and Bill carefully but want to proceed at pace. 

Chair stated that work is currently underway to scope which areas of legislation are affected, noting that significant numbers of pre-devolution Acts that pertain to children’s rights will present issues that require further analysis. 

Members are keen that the preparatory work progresses. DN suggested that the Bill is revised and adopted as soon as possible. Chair confirmed that the majority of work can continue as normal, including the Introductory Guidance which is being redrafted at pace to take into consideration the judgement. SG will be continuing with Implementation activities in a manner that is consistent with the Supreme Court judgement.

Members noted that it is important that stakeholders and the wider public are informed that the SG remains committed to respecting and upholding children’s rights regardless of the SC ruling.  

Chair stated that SG is due to write a letter to stakeholders emphasising that ministers remain committed to incorporating the UNCRC. 

JH enquired about the status of communications with UK Law Officers and officials. Chair affirmed that SG will be engaging with UK Government colleagues to assist with revisions to the Bill once the implications of the SC ruling have been fully analysed and understood. 

Members asked if there is a timeline to progress this, whether through reconsideration in Parliament or not. Chair confirmed there currently isn’t a timeline but once there is it will be shared with the group.

MD asked about potentially needing to go out to future consultation on this. Chair confirmed that as officials work through the timescales and what the judgement means, this should be clearer. DN noted another consultation could help establish public support. 

Chair welcomed the comments about moving forward with the UNCRC Implementation Programme, querying whether members remained content with the imminent publication of guidance, subject to previously discussed revisions and updates to reflect the SC judgement. Chair also suggested updating the accompanying cover letter to inform and reassure public authorities about SG’s commitment to incorporating the UNCRC and upholding children’s rights. 

Members expressed agreement that officials should proceed with the publication of introductory guidance in its current form following the agreed revisions. Members noted that the guidance and covering letter would provide reassurance to public authorities disappointed by the SC judgement. 

Members agreed that branding will be revisited. The standard Girfec branding will be used for this guidance in order to move at pace, but will consider UNCRC specific branding for future publications.


  • SG to update covering letter to the guidance and issue to members for clearance
  • SG to update Introductory Guidance and send to members by the end of the week 


Next meeting is scheduled for Monday 18 October.

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