16 March, 2021 – Edinburgh, Scotland
Tam Baillie (click on left photo to view video)
On 16th March 2021, the Scottish Parliament passed a bill incorporating the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) into Scots Law. This is a landmark moment in the long journey to have children rights better realised in Scotland. For years, the incorporation of the UNCRC in Scotland was something to be dreamt about, rather than become a reality. It marks the culmination years of campaigning on the part of many people to tilt the odds in favour of getting legislation into statute. We now have that, imbedding children’s rights in a way that has meaning, sustainability and matches the ambition of the convention, ratified by the UN back in 1989. Every positive action taken in respect of children’s rights: large and small; national and local; individual and collective, has contributed to this day – we should all free proud to be here sharing in the celebration.
However, the hard bit is about to begin. We have lots of examples of great legislation which hasn’t lived up to expectations because of partial implementation. Most of the UK representations to the UNCRC Committee through periodic scrutiny are about failures to make our legislation work in the way that it was intended. I am confident that there are sufficient safeguards in the monitoring of the legislation that we will be alert to when and where the implementation needs further emphasis to keep it on track. We are in good hands because of the growing culture of being guided by the knowledge, experience and wisdom of children and young people. Their involvement in implementation will keep it grounded in the reality of their lives and in the identification of those areas where we need a more robust approach.
We know it won’t be easy, we know there will be challenges along the way, but we also know the importance of honouring our duties to children by ensuring they have the best enjoyment of their rights that are enshrined in the UNCRC. In Scotland we now have improved chances of making it happen.
former Scotland Commissioner for Children and Young People (2009-2017), and current
Member of IPA Executive Board and Membership Officer