UNCRC Strategic Implementation Board minutes: January 2024

Minutes from the meeting of the group on 30 January 2024.

Attendees and apologies

 SIB members and deputies

  • Andrew Watson (Chair), Director for Children and Families
  • Dragan Nastic, UNICEF UK
  • Juliet Harris, Together Scotland
  • Amy Woodhouse, Parenting Across Scotland
  • Eleanor Kerr, NHS
  • CS Hussain Farogue, Police Scotland (Deputising for ACC David Duncan)
  • Ben Farrugia, Social Work Scotland
  • Gina Wilson, Children and Young People’s Commissioner Scotland (CYCPS)
  • Jennifer Davidson, Institute for Inspiring Children’s Future’s
  • Rebekah Cameron-Berry, COSLA
  • Norma Ruettiman, Care and Learning Alliance
  • Nicola Anderson(LIT), Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service
  • Anna Munro, SGLD
  • Emma Young, The Promise (Deputising for Chloe Riddell)
  • Lynn McCoy-Lavery (Deputising for Helen Foggarty)



Scottish Government supporting officials

  • Andrew Preston, UNCRC Programme Assistant
  • Carola Eyber, Children’s Rights Reporting and Monitoring Lead
  • Gita Sharkey, Joint Unit Head, Children’s Rights Unit
  • Liz Levy, Joint Unit Head, Children’s Rights Unit
  • Lyndsey Saki, Embedding Children’s Rights in Public Services Programme Lead
  • Aqeel Ahmed, Embedding Children’s Rights in Public Services Team
  • Paul Gorman, Empowered Children and Young People Lead
  • Shona Spence, UNCRC Bill Lead
  • Kavita Chetty


Apologies, Board members

  • Helen Foggarty, Social Security Scotland
  • Chloe Riddell, The Promise

Items and actions

Welcome and apologies

Andrew Watson (AW) welcomed the Board. Apologies were given for those not in attendance.

Minutes and actions from previous meeting

Minutes were circulated on 23 January 2024. No amendment requests had been received from members. Once minutes have gone through the relevant clearance process with SGLD they will be published on the group page.

There were three actions raised at the November meeting as follows:

  • Dean Snape to review and refresh the list of projects in the Highlight Report in time for next meeting
  • Members to provide feedback on draft CRS by Wednesday 20th December
  • Members to provide comments/amendments for the programme Risk Register by 19 January 2024 and SIB will agree how often to review the Risk Register at its next meeting.

All actions have now been closed as detailed within the action tracker circulated on 23 January 2024.

Highlight Report

The programme Highlight Report was shared with members on 23 January 2024 and set out progress against previous activities, upcoming priorities for the next 2 months and the current status of deliverables associated with the implementation programme. Members were asked to consider this report ahead of the meeting. 

Liz Levy (LL) clarified that only projects that have now been delivered (such as the innovation fund and considering the case for an audit of legislative compatibility) have been removed from the Highlight Report. It was agreed that these should be listed under a new section so that SIB could be reminded of delivered/concluded projects.

Action – Future highlight reports to include a list of project that have been delivered.

Juliet Harris (JH) asked about the age group of those involved in the workshop run by Young Scot to scope ideas for awareness raising on the Act. Paul Gorman (PG) confirmed that they were all over the age of 14 but that the Communications Network is supporting the development of a national campaign to raise awareness of children's rights and that the Children’s Parliament (which represents younger children) is represented on this network. There was agreement that children and young people should help shape the approach to raising awareness with adults as well as children.

JH asked if SIB would see a paper on how the Children’s Rights Unit intend to review the provision of advocacy support for children’s rights. PG confirmed that the intention was to share thinking at the next meeting. Ben Farrugia (BF) asked if the work being planned would consider how to allocate funding to advocacy provision. PG explained that the SG is not yet in a position to assess whether additional funding is required for advocacy in the context of UNCRC implementation but that work would be proposed to help us reach that assessment.

BF asked about the timescales for launching the awareness raising campaign. PG responded that the aim is to publish the Parents/Carers/Family UNCRC booklet in paper form by the end of March. Amy Woodhouse (AW) offered Parenting Across Scotland’s support to review the Parents/Carers/Family UNCRC booklet before it is published.


LL reminded members that an email was issued on 17 January informing them that the UNCRC Bill received Royal Assent on 16 January and is now the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (Incorporation) (Scotland) Act 2024.

She also highlighted that, as the Act was updated to reflect additions and deletions during the Bill's Parliamentary passage, the numbering of several sections in the Act differ from those in the Bill .

The SSI that makes provision for early commencement of some of the provisions in the Act has now been signed and laid before Parliament. The provisions on the consultation and production of the statutory guidance and the provision on court rules will commence on 31 January. All other provisions, including the compatibility duty, will commence on 16 July 2024. 

Papers have been shared with the civil and criminal court rules councils to allow consideration of any court rules that will be required.

Consultation on Statutory Guidance

Lyndsey Saki (LS) informed members that non-statutory guidance on taking a children’s human rights approach was published on 8 January 2024.

The non-statutory guidance provides practical support for public authorities to prepare for commencement of duties in the Act while consultation takes place on the draft statutory guidance. While the aim is to publish statutory guidance in time for commencement, it may not be possible, given the short 6-month commencement period. The statutory guidance consultation cannot begin until provisions to publish and consult on statutory guidance commence on 31 January 2024. The intention is for the consultation to go live as soon as is practicable thereafter, around mid-February.  

 Once live, the consultation will be open for responses for twelve weeks. The Children’s rights Unit will also commission up to 6 organisations to engage with a representative range of children and young people, from a range of backgrounds, ensuring that their views are captured and considered alongside the public consultation responses. Consultation with children and young people is expected to take place in early March. 

  A consultation analysis report is expected in June. This gives a very tight turn around to review the analysis of responses, update the guidance and go through sign off and publication processes. Every effort will be made to publish the guidance ahead of commencement. 

Juliet Harris (JH) asked if there would be abreakdown of what children and young people (CYP) had said and how it differed from adults. JH also asked if there would be child friendly version of the consultation and analysis. 

 LS will check the possibility for disaggregation with analysts and whether a child friendly  version of the analysis is included in the procurement specification. There is a topic guide for CYP, it will be available to other organisations with details on how to contact the Embedding Team directly provided on the consultation site.

LS agreed to give SIB updates via email of the consultation process and encouraged people to share the consultation amongst networks.

Action – LS to check what is possible in terms of the disaggregation of consultation responses and to confirm if a child friendly  version of the analysis will be available.

Action - LS to email SIB when the consultation process is live.

Support for public authorities on commencement

LS shared that NHS Education Scotland has been commissioned to provide support to health boards and special health boards with their preparedness for commencement. 

The intended outcomes of this work are that: 

  • Health boards report increased understanding and preparedness for the commencement of duties under the UNCRC Act. 
  • Adult services within health boards have greater awareness of the UNCRC Act duties and what that means for service delivery, and commit to appropriate action. 
  • Key senior leaders within health boards have appropriate tools and support to self-evaluate preparedness for the UNCRC Act commencement and consider any areas of practice that may require attention. 

Aqeel Ahmed (AA) updated members on the work of the Regulation and Improvement action group and initial engagement with listed authorities. The Group will support regulators to embed child rights considerations into their practice and the practice of the organisations they reach. It will assist the Scottish Government to identify and implement practical steps to further embed children’s rights within regulatory frameworks and inspection regimes. The Group has been exploring the 5 principles of embedding children’s rights in public services developed by the Welsh Commission for Children and Young People. The group is looking at what guidance and supports already exists, what are the gaps and what are some of the questions and concerns people have such as engaging with young people who are at risk of their rights not being met and looking at how inspection can instil accountability and ensure young people have the ability to hold institutions to account by being able to fully participate in such processes.

AA talked about some of the emerging themes from discussions with listed authorities and the opportunities and challenges they faced in embedding UNCRC in their work. Listed authorities appreciate ongoing dialogue, ensuring they are kept up to date on all activities underway in the lead up to commencement and the supporting resources available. AA mentioned some of the early challenges that have been identified such as child friendly reporting and engaging with children and young people who are at risk of their rights not being fulfilled.

 Paul Gorman (PG) updated members on a new publication the Children’s Rights Unit will be creating this year. Over the next few months hewill work with two groups to produce a document/publication, that will provide advice about what rights-holders can do in the event that they have a concern that their rights are not being respected, setting out the mechanisms and options available. 

This would include advice about advocacy provision, child friendly complaints, remedy, legal services, adults listening to children, and raising awareness.

The planned approach will be to work in partnership with representatives from different sectors and a group of children and young people. Some of the key organisations have been invited to form a working group to initially agree on and sense-check the main information. Then, using the new Participation Framework, the Scottish Government will give a design brief to a group of young people to participate in the creation and dissemination of their publication.   

We will aim to publish this first output in summer 2024

BF highlighted the risk that publication sets out a pathway to remedy that it not fully available in the way we hope or expect.

PG explained that the aim of the publication is to make CYP aware of what they should expect. New resources that are becoming available and new duties will assist duty bearers in making the necessary behavioural change in time. The aim is to empower everyone within the system to make the culture changes we want to see.

JH explained that a priority for CYP is to know who to speak to if they have a problem. Having a technical legal route to remedy should be a last resort. . PG confirmed the routes include dialogue aimed at resolving complaints informally and in an accessible way.

Dragan Nastic (DN) asked for clarification of the composition of the working group and whether the work it produces will be shared?

PG confirmed he will share two papers he has written on this with SIB papers next week and that the group will meet only once.

ACTION: PG to share documents that will inform the ‘Pathways Publication’

BF noted the importance of having representation within the group from those who have a role in suporting interaction between professional staff and children such as teachers and medical staff. Jennifer Davidson (JD) added that workforces need to be able to support the fundamental skills of listening and realising child rights.

LS confirmed that the Skills & Knowledge Framework will support the workforce to take a children’s human rights approach and should support culture change by improving individual interactions. They are interlinked and the Pathways resource will be added to the Framework in future. There will be work with public authorities to support them to implement the Framework with their staff.

UNCRC programme risk register

LL reminded members that the Risk Register was circulated prior to the last meeting and comments invited. An action had been agreed to bring the Register back to this meeting to discuss the frequency with which it would be reviewed by members. The Register has been updated since it was circulated to remove the risk associated with the Bill not being passed, now that Royal Assent has been secured. A further update was also made to reflect that the non-statutory guidance has been published.

LL suggested that SIB review the Risk Register at every second meeting, as a matter of routine. If the Children’s Rights Unit have a particular concern about any of the risks, they will raise this with SIB in the meantime and ensure these concerns are reflected in the agenda. LL offered to consider how the highlight report could make clear which actions were addressing risks in the risk register.

Action - LL to consider how the highlight report could make clear which actions were addressing risks in the risk register.

JH asked why the risk associated with public authorities deprioritising efforts to embed children's rights in areas where the compatibility duty does not  apply, did not have any controls attached. LL explained that this had been a new risk when the Register was last circulated and at that time there were no existing controls agreed. Plans for these have now been added to the Register under new actions.


Carola Eyber (CE) provided a brief update to members on:

  • the planned publication of SG’s Initial Response to the UN Committee’s Concluding Observations, which will be published in February or March.
  • how the Children’s Rights Unit proposes to amend the reporting cycle for the Children’s Rights Scheme. Thinking has moved on since the last SIB and the intention is now to propose to Ministers that we report on progress annually but review the Scheme and consult on new actions at least every three years. This is following feedback from the Children and Young People’s Commissioner’s Office. There will be no change to the reporting requirement for listed public authorities. It was recognised that reports from listed public authorities should be used to inform the consideration of new actions for the CRS.

Dragan Nastic (DN) asked for more details about the plan for developing the response to the UN’s Concluding Observations. CE explained that development of the strategy has been delayed due to the need to postpone publication of the Initial Response but confirmed that there would be engagement with children and young people and further information would be provided to SIB in due course.

DN asked for a progress update on training for the judiciary in responding to compatibility issues brought to the court. Shona Spence (SP) explained that it is for the Judicial Training Unit within the Judicial Institute to decide what training is appropriate for sheriffs and judges. The Judicial Institute has been in touch with the Children’s Rights Unit about the Act and so we know that this is being considered. DN highlighted that Sweden published a technical document about how the courts should interpret the UNCRC around 2 years after the UNCRC was incorporated there.

AW closed by highlighting SIB’s important role in inspiring others about what we are seeking to achieve for children’s rights, as well as monitoring progress with the programme.

The next meeting of the UNCRC Strategic Implementation Board will be held on Tuesday 26 March, 15:30 – 17:00

Back to top