Taking forward UNCRC implementation in Scotland
March 16, 2022 by Ellie Snape No Comments | Category Children & young people, Guest blog, Participation in action, Social Justice
The Empowered Children and Young People’s Team at Scottish Government give us an overview of how their work has progressed since Scottish Parliament unanimously passed the UNCRC (Incorporation) (Scotland) Bill.
Article 12 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) states that children and young people have the right to freely express their views, be listened to and taken seriously in all matters that affect them. Article 12 also highlights that children and young people should be given the information they need to make decisions.
The Empowered Children and Young People’s Team, part of the Children’s Rights Unit at Scottish Government, is passionate about children’s rights. We have a particular focus on making Article 12 of the UNCRC a reality within the Scottish Government, and delivering a revolution in children’s rights in Scotland.
Our team work to encourage the meaningful participation of children and young people in a number of ways, such as:
- Executive Team Takeovers
- Children and Young People Annual Cabinet Takeover
- a dedicated relationship with Children’s Parliament and Scottish Youth Parliament
- the Children and Young People’s Consortium
On 16 March 2021 the Scottish Parliament unanimously passed the UNCRC (Incorporation) (Scotland) Bill (the UNCRC Bill) to incorporate the UNCRC into Scots law to the maximum extent possible within the powers of the Scottish Parliament.
While the UNCRC Bill was then referred to the Supreme Court by the UK Government and cannot receive Royal Assent in its current form, we are urgently and carefully considering the most effective way forward for this important legislation. The majority of work in relation to implementation of the UNCRC is continuing.
A 2019 Scottish Government consultation with key stakeholders on the strategic actions required to incorporate the UNCRC into law in Scotland identified a requirement for robust systems to be developed to support children and young people’s direct engagement in decision-making and policy design.
In July 2021 the UNCRC Strategic Implementation Board (SIB) was commissioned to provide strategic vision for UNCRC implementation. To ensure children and young people’s meaningful participation was at the heart of this from the outset an ‘Interim Consortium’ that represented the views of children and young people was established as part of SIB.
This Interim Consortium, now called Rights Right Now!, is currently being facilitated by Together (Scottish Alliance for Children’s Rights) and involves children and young people. It’s coordinated in partnership with six Together members: Aberlour, Carers Trust Scotland, Children in Scotland, Scottish Commission for Learning Disability, Scottish Youth Parliament, and Who Cares? Scotland. These partner organisations have trusting relationships with children and young people and have committed to strengthen SIB’s capacity to involve children and young people with a broad range of experiences and background in its work.
Rights Right Now! has played a key role in the work of the SIB to date. As well as providing advice and guidance on effective collaborative practice that supports children and young people to be heard, Rights Right Now! has contributed to the development of the Progressing the Human Rights of Children in Scotland: An Action Plan 2021 – 2024.
Ongoing collaboration between the Children’s Rights Unit and Rights Right Now! is guided by our Open Government team’s Participation Framework which promotes the meaningful participation of people in decision making and policy design within the Scottish Government. This framework is dynamic and continues to evolve to remain up-to-date and user-friendly. Of particular note is the ‘spectrum of participation’:
- Inform – to provide the public with balanced and objective information
- Consult – to obtain feedback on analysis, alternatives, proposals and/or decisions
- Involve – to work directly with participants throughout the policy/decision making process to ensure that their concerns and aspirations are consistently understood and considered
- Collaborate – to partner with participants in each aspect of the decision, including defining the issue, developing alternatives and identifying preferred solutions
- Delegate – to place final decision-making in the hands of the participants
This model promotes the development of a shared language and meaningful collaboration between all stakeholders.
Meaningful participation is also guided by Lundy’s (2007) model of child participation which conceptualises Article 12: States Parties shall assure to the child who is capable of forming his or her own views the right to express those views freely in all matters affecting the child, the views of the child being given due weight in accordance with the age and maturity of the child.
An example of effective collaboration
Initial discussions with Rights Right Now! highlighted:
- it is important that children and young people understand their rights
- there are inconsistencies in rights awareness across the country
- social media is particularly effective in communicating messages to children and young people
- it is essential that children and young people are involved in the development and design of the national awareness raising campaign on children’s rights
As a result Rights Right Now! is working in partnership with the Empowered Children and Young People’s Team to plan the national awareness raising campaign on children’s rights. This collaboration includes the creation of a subgroup to conduct market research into the use of social media to communicate messages to children and young people. The findings of this research will help shape the design of the national campaign. Children and young people will continue to be involved in all stages of campaign design and implementation.
Rights Right Now! will remain in operation until April 2022 when a new Consortium will be launched to ensure continuous collaboration with children and young people particularly those identified as seldom heard and most at risk of not having their rights upheld.
This main Consortium will: build on work currently undertaken by Rights Right Now!; ensure children and young people’s voices continue to be at the heart of UNCRC implementation; and later, engage children and young people in the wider work of the Children and Families Directorate.
Follow the blog for ongoing updates on children and young people’s meaningful participation!
Lundy, L. (2007) ‘‘Voice’ is not enough: conceptualising Article 12 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child’, British Educational Research Journal, 33:6, Pp. 927-942.
Find out more
- Participation Collaborative approaches to planning the UNCRC national children’s rights awareness raising campaign – the story of the young people’s awareness raising subgroup
- Participation UNCRC implementation ‘The Right Way’ project: developing a framework for youth participation with young people at the centre
Tags: children and young people, Engagement, human rights, open government, participation, UNCRC
Leave a comment