UNCRC Strategic Implementation Board: terms of reference

Terms of reference for the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) Strategic Implementation Board.


1. It is proposed that a Strategic Implementation Board (the Board) is convened to provide strategic and collaborative leadership for the three-year programme to implement the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and the provisions in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (Incorporation)(Scotland) Bill.

Aim and Vision

2. The overall aim of the Board will be to provide strategic vision and oversight of a comprehensive and joined up implementation programme so that children’s rights are respected, protected and fulfilled in Scotland. The Board will ensure that the implementation programme takes a rights-respecting approach, and that the wider governance structure established to oversee delivery of the programme supports proportionate, effective, balanced and transparent decision making.

3. The Board will support the Scottish Government in the transformational change required, to ensure children and young people experience their rights being upheld by the end of the three-year implementation period to the maximum amount possible in public services and beyond. The Board will work together collaboratively and will support links being made with other relevant activity across Government and beyond.


4. The Board will include representation from leaders in the children’s rights sector, public authorities, private providers of public services and the wider third sector. Across the range of members will be those who represent the views of duty bearers and the views of rights holders. The experiences, ideas and feedback of children and young people will inform the work of the Board, and the governance structures that will sit beneath the Board.

5. To support the meaningful and inclusive participation of rights holders, we are exploring with stakeholders and internal colleagues the intention of establishing a consortium of organisations that have already built strong, trusting relationships with children and young people across Scotland. We propose that we ask children and young people through the consortium of organisations how they wish to engage with the Board, and to nominate representatives to the Board. It is intended that these children and young people would also be provided with dedicated support to prepare and participate in meetings of the Board.

6. Board members will retain their independence with regard to their positioning on the implementation of children’s rights, and the fulfilment of their statutory functions. Participation in the board is without prejudice to the statutory independence of the Scottish Human Rights Commission and Children and Young People’s Commissioner of Scotland, and compliance with the requirements of the Paris Principles


7. The Board would be required to review and authorise the principles of the implementation approach. The following principles are proposed:

  • the implementation programme, including its governance, will be delivered in a rights-respecting way based on the PANEL principles (participation, accountability, non-discrimination and equality, empowerment and legality).
  • children and young people’s participation, including those who are from seldom heard groups will be actively sought, and their views listened to, at each level of governance including through the Board, through their direct representation and via the proposed consortium of organisations. They will be involved in decisions that affect them, and we will use inclusive communications to ensure the meaningful and sustained participation of all children and young people.
  • collective leadership will deliver better outcomes for children, young people and their families.
  • the programme will be informed by the three-step improvement framework for Scotland's public services.
  • the governance structure design will support proportionate, effective, balanced and transparent decision making at different levels required to deliver a comprehensive and joined up implementation programme. We will seek to use existing structures where possible.


8. Whilst the Scottish Ministers will retain ultimate responsibility and will make key programme decisions on the delivery of the implementation programme, the Board will provide wider strategic oversight, vision, scrutiny and collaborative leadership for the programme. Members of the Board will collectively make recommendations to Scottish Ministers based on their distinct expertise. The Board will also review and provide advice on the governance principles, and seek assurance that:

  • governance principles are being respected.
  • activities are undertaken in a controlled and coordinated manner, and documented plans exist for each area of work and that these plans are suitable to deliver the required outputs, objectives and outcomes.
  • progress on the programme outcomes is being delivered in terms of public value, timeliness and resource, (or clear explanation is provided of the reasons why not).
  • performance is reviewed against intended outcomes and benefits, identifying trends (both positive and negative) and required areas of improvement.
  • approaches to measurement and reporting of progress and impact are meaningful, accessible and transparent.
  • costs remain within budget forecasts and resources are being fully utilised.
  • risks and issues are being effectively identified, assessed, managed and escalated in line with the Risk Management strategy for the programme.
  • appropriate knowledge, experience and understanding of children’s rights is being utilised to inform the work of the programme.
  • the experiences, ideas and feedback from children, young people and their families, including those from seldom heard children, young people and their families have been included in decision-making.
  • interdependencies are being effectively managed between relevant areas of work both within and outwith the programme.
  • internal and external communications and engagement activity are taking place in a timely and appropriate manner.


9. Whilst the reference to the Supreme Court means that the Bill cannot go for Royal Assent at this stage, we consider that the majority of work in relation to implementation can continue. The Scottish Government remains committed to the incorporation of the UNCRC and to commencement of the UNCRC Bill as soon as is possible. We consider that there remains significant interest in progress being made, and it is therefore proposed that the Board should meet monthly from July 2021 to December 2021 with the opportunity for the Board to review the frequency of meetings at that point. It is expected that the Board will be in place until March 2024, supporting commencement of the Bill and the wider 3 year implementation programme.

Chair and Secretariat

10. The Board will be chaired by Michael Chalmers, Director of Children and Families. The Secretariat will be provided by the Children’s Rights Unit within Scottish Government. The Secretariat will:

  • circulate an agenda and other relevant papers one week in advance of each meeting; and
  • issue draft minutes and actions within one week of each meeting.

11. The Terms of Reference, membership of the group and minutes of meetings will be published on the Scottish Government’s website to ensure transparency.

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