UN Convention on the Rights of the Child

The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) was signed by the UK in 1990, ratified in 1991 and came into force in 1992.

In UK courts, including in Scotland, the UNCRC is an "interpretive aid" and does not have full legal force.

The Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 gave further effect to the UNCRC in Scots law. Under the 2014 Act:

  • Scottish Ministers must keep under review any steps that could be taken to give further effect to the UNCRC.
  • Scottish Ministers must promote public awareness and understanding of the UNCRC.
  • Scottish Ministers and other public authorities must report every three years on work taken to give further effect to the UNCRC.

The UNCRC applies to all children up to the age of 18. In terms of Staf's work, the following articles are particularly pertinent (though this is not exhaustive):

  • Article 3: The best interests of the child shall be the primary consideration in all actions concerning children; all children should have the protection and care that is necessary for their wellbeing; and services must conform with established standards of health, safety and with regard to the number and suitability of staff.
  • Article 6: State Parties should ensure to the maximum extent possible the survival and development of the child.
  • Article 8: The right of the child to preserve their identity.
  • Article 9: Children should not be separated from their parents unless it is in their best interests, such as in the case of abuse or neglect by parents. Contact should be maintained by parents, except where it is not in their best interests.
  • Article 12: The right to express their views on matters affecting them and their views should be given "due weight".
  • Article 13: The right to freedom of expression.
  • Article 16: Right to be free from arbitrary or unlawful interference in their privacy, family, home or correspondence.
  • Article 18: States shall "render appropriate assistance to parents and legal guardians in the performance of their child-rearing responsibilities and shall ensure the development of institutions, facilities and services for the care of children.
  • Article 19: The right to protection from "all forms of physical or mental violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation, including sexual abuse, while in the care of parent(s), legal guardian(s) or any other person who has the care of the child."
  • Article 20: "A child temporarily or permanently deprived of his or her family environment, or in whose own best interests cannot be allowed to remain in that environment, shall be entitled to special protection and assistance provided by the state."
  • Article 26: The right to benefit from any social security.
  • Article 27: The right to an adequate standard of living.
  • Article 28: The right to education on the basis of equal opportunity, including accessibility of higher education and access to education and vocational information and guidance.
  • Article 31: The right to rest and leisure, to engage in play and recreational activities and to participate in culture and the arts.
  • Article 32: The right to protection from economic exploitation, including appropriate regulation of hours and conditions of employment.
  • Article 39: All appropriate measures should be taken "to promote physical and psychological recovery and social reintegration of a child victim of: any form of neglect, exploitation, or abuse..."
  • Article 42: State Parties must take steps to make the Convention widely known.

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