The Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC)
The Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) is the most widely ratified international human rights treaty in the world. It commits all State parties (currently 193 States) to protect and promote the rights of all children. CRC was adopted in 1989 and entered into force in 1990. The UK ratified the CRC in December 1991.
Article 1 defines a child as “every human being below the age of eighteen years unless under the law applicable to the child, majority is attained earlier”. Article 2 prohibits discrimination, whilst Article 3 places the best interests of the child as the main consideration in all actions concerning children which underpin the Articles contained within the whole Convention.
There are currently 20 General Comments which clarify the scope and content of CRC’s provisions.
State parties are obliged to produce reports to the Committee which outline progress and legislative, judicial and policy measures taken to fulfil their obligations under the Convention. Each State is expected to submit a report initially two years after consenting to the Convention and then every five years thereafter. The last UK State report (5th periodic report) was submitted on 23 April 2014. The UK State response to the List of Issues was submitted on 2 March 2016.
The most recent review of the UK took place in July 2016, accompanying Concluding Observations can be accessed here.
Read more information on the reporting status and access to all relevant documentation including: State reports, Civil society & NHRI submissions; Concluding Observations and follow-up State reports.
As Scotland’s Commissioner for Children and Young People has duties and powers to engage in this process, the Scottish Human Rights Commission take care to avoid duplication of effort. Nonetheless, we made a short submission highlighting the most significant human rights issues that have arisen in relation to the implementation of the CRC in Scotland.
As part of this review the Commission produced a list of recommendations for the Committee to ask of the UK State. For the 2016 review the Commission made the following recommendations:
- What measures it will take to ensure the effective respect, protection and fulfilment of the CRC, including the adoption of human rights budgetary analysis.
- What measures it will take to ensure non-regression and the protection of children’s rights without discrimination in case of the repeal of the Human Rights Act 1998.
- What measures it will take to ensure the effective protection of children, in particular Muslim children from stigmatising effects of counter terrorism measures and negative media coverage.
- How it will guarantee that changes to children’s legal assistance do not limit access to justice for children in Scotland.
- What is its current view and position in relation to ensuring equal protection for assault for children by repealing the legal defences to corporal punishment including those in the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2003.
- Furthermore, what it has done to promote positive non-violent forms of discipline via public campaigns as an alternative to corporal punishment.
- To explain the measures taken to consider whether the use of stop and search, particularly non-statutory searches, by Police Scotland is within the framework of the Convention.
- What concrete steps have been taken to improve direct contact between prisoners and their children in line with the best interest of the child and what measures have been taken to improve the contact between looked after children and their families.
- How it will guarantee that the increase demand on mental health-care services do not deprive children of their right to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health and what measures they will put in place to ensure adequate early intervention and prevention measures.
- To indicate its plans to reduce child poverty and inequality within the current public spending programme, and in light of the new tax and welfare powers devolved to Scotland, how the Scottish Government plans to use these to ensure the realisation of children’s rights.
- What further steps it is taking to ensure the effective provision of affordable, good quality and culturally adequate housing for children.
- To explain its plan to raise the minimum age of criminal responsibility from 8 years old and ensure the full implementation of juvenile justice standards, as expressed in the General Comment No. 10 of the Committee on the Rights of the Child.
- To explain what interim, medium and long-term measures are being taken to remedy the situation in Young Offenders Institutions, particularly regarding access to purposeful and open air activities.
The Scottish Human Rights Commission Submission to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child: NHRI report on the United Kingdom’s periodic report under the Convention on the Rights of the Child (April 2016).
Civil Society Engagement
Civil society has the potential to engage with this treaty in a number of ways:
- Submitting written information to the Committee
- Submitting an alternative report
- Providing information for the list of issues
- Attending Sessions and Making Oral Submissions to the Committee
- The ratification of international Human Rights treaties; the reporting cycles and all the documents related to a reporting cycle
- Details on the sessions of the Committee
- Details on engagement with the Committee produced by Child Rights Connect
- CRC Committee’s Guidelines for the participation of non-governmental actors in the Reporting process
- Current Committee members
- The UN Handbook for Civil Society
- Guidelines for State reporting for CRC (civil society reports should resemble the structure of State reports)