Commission strongly welcomes UN Convention on the Rights of the Child Incorporation Bill

The Scottish Human Rights Commission strongly welcomes the full protection of the rights of children and young people via legislation passed in the Scottish Parliament tonight.

The Commission considers that the United Nations Convention On The Rights Of The Child (Incorporation) (Scotland) Bill is one of the most significant in the lifetime of the Scottish Parliament. 

The new legislation significantly strengthens the human rights of children and young people.  It puts children’s rights at the heart of decision making and it secures their  rights as enforceable in law.

Commission Chair, Judith Robertson said: 

“This legislation is the biggest step we’ve ever taken in Scotland to progress children’s rights and the Commission warmly welcomes it.

“The UNCRC is the most widely ratified of all the international human rights treaties in the world. The preamble to the treaty sets out the fundamental objective that children should grow up with “happiness, love and understanding” and that they should have “special safeguards and care, including appropriate legal protection”. This Bill seeks to make that vision a reality for the children of Scotland. It provides a legal backdrop of protections for children to grow up healthy and safe with their views taken into consideration in decisions that affect them.

“This is the first time that international human rights laws have been given a legislative footing in this way in Scotland.  It will allow us to live up to our international obligations to uphold rights and improve the lives of children and young people across Scotland. The legislation also paves the way for the further incorporation of other international human rights treaties in the lifetime of the next Parliament.

“We are particularly pleased that the legalisation has responded to our concerns around accountability gaps emerging in relation to private actors in the delivery of services to children and young people. The legislation seeks to clarify the definition of all those who have obligations under the bill – which includes all those carrying out public functions regardless of whether they are public or private. 

“The legislation has been driven by the tireless campaigning and advocacy of children, young people, organisations and individuals for many, many years.  We congratulate them all on working with the Scottish Government towards this momentous achievement in having children’s rights put into law in Scotland today.

“The Commission looks forward to playing its role in supporting the implementation and enforcement of the legislation in the months and years to come.”



  1. The Commission welcomes move to clarify definition of public functions in UNCRC Bill in a statement published in January 2021
  1. The Commission’s consultation response on UN Convention on the Rights of the Child Billto Equalities and Human Rights Committee (EHRiC) Inquiry in October 2020
  1. An article by Commission Legal Officer Eleanor Deeming on human rights and private providers of public services, published in the Law Society Journal Scotland in December 2020