Strengthening children’s rights in Scotland

Quakers in Scotland are working with Together (Scottish Alliance for Children's Rights) on a new Bill to enshrine children's rights into Scots law.

small children playing with blocks
Credit: Marisa Howenstine on Unsplash

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (Incorporation) (Scotland) Bili (offsite link) was launched as part of the Programme for Government 2020-21.

Quakers in Scotland joined 49 other members of Together in writing to MSPs to welcome the Bill. The letter emphasised the importance of creating a culture where children's rights are respected, protected, and fulfilled.

Elizabeth Allen, Clerk of General Meeting for Scotland, said:

“Quakers in Scotland have a proud history of advocating for children's rights, from scrutinising military visits in schools to campaigning for equal protection from assault.

“We thank our partners at Together for their hard work in developing this Bill with the Scottish Government. We look forward to working with them to ensure the Bill is passed and implemented, to the benefit of all children in Scotland."

The full text of the letter is as follows:

“Dear Members of the Scottish Parliament

“As members of Together (Scottish Alliance for Children's Rights), we warmly welcome the introduction of a Bill to incorporate the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) into Scots law. We believe this is a significant moment in realising our shared vision of ensuring all children and young people growing up in Scotland have their human rights respected, protected and fulfilled.

“Children, young people, their families and wider civil society have been working towards UNCRC incorporation for very many years. The journey began back in 1991 when the UK first ratified the UNCRC, placing a duty on Scotland to give effect to the UNCRC under international law. Over the following 29 years, there have been many more important milestones, including the creation of our world-leading Children's Parliament and Scottish Youth Parliament which have been leading calls for

children's rights to be made binding in law. This campaign to secure children's rights in law has gathered widespread support across many sectors and professions including health, social work, education and the police. The introduction of the UNCRC Incorporation Bill to the Scottish Parliament will be one of the most significant steps forward on this journey so far.

“We know from international experience that incorporation encourages a culture change in which children and young people are better valued and respected. In uncertain times like these, the importance of legal protections for children and young people's human rights is more evident than ever. Passing the Bill will be one of the most important things the Scottish Parliament can do to ensure children's rights are respected, protected, and fulfilled. It will provide a meaningful legacy to the Year of Young People 2018 and make sure that future generations benefit from the hard work and commitment of today's children and young people.

“We look forward to your support in this important step towards Scotland becoming a world leader in protecting children and young people's rights. Please do get in touch if you have any questions about UNCRC incorporation or as the Bill progresses through the Scottish Parliament. In the meantime, we hope you will be keen to celebrate the introduction of the UNCRC Incorporation Bill with us!

“With thanks and best wishes

“Juliet Harris, Director, Together (Scottish Alliance for Children's Rights)"

The letter was signed by Elizabeth Allen for Quakers in Scotland. A copy of the letter with the full list of signatories is available on Together's website.

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