Commission welcomes move to clarify definition of public functions in UNCRC Bill

The Scottish Human Rights Commission has welcomed progress on the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (Incorporation) (Scotland) Bill following a Stage 1 debate in the Scottish Parliament today.

Commission Chair, Judith Robertson said: 

“This important Bill marks a significant step towards ensuring children’s human rights are respected, protected and fulfilled across Scotland. It also paves the way for the incorporation of all other international human rights into Scotland’s domestic laws, a move which the Commission has long advocated. 

“We are particularly pleased that the Scottish Government is proposing an amendment to the Bill to strengthen the definition of those performing public functions, so that they are clearly brought within the scope of the Bill’s obligations. This will ensure unintended gaps in accountability for children’s rights do not emerge in relation to third parties providing public services. The Commission has had longstanding concerns about lack of clarity in this area under the Human Rights Act 1998. We are therefore pleased that government has listened to our evidence on this subject, and is taking appropriate action to address our concerns.

“Looking ahead, it is important that this Bill enables Scotland to keep pace with developments in international human rights law. The Commission is pleased that recommendations and General Comments from the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child are now to be included on the face of the Bill as an interpretive source. We would now like to see this go further, with a direct link made within the Bill to all international human rights laws, and comparative sources from other jurisdictions.”



  1. The Commission’s consultation response on UN Convention on the Rights of the Child Bill to 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