Historic moment for children’s rights in Scotland

On 16 March 2021 Scotland became the first devolved nation in the world to directly incorporate the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) into domestic law. NDNA Scotland logo

MSPs, in Holyrood, voted unanimously for the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (Incorporation) (Scotland) Bill to become law, meaning public authorities will have to comply with children’s rights. The Bill will commence six months from Royal Assent, signalling a culture shift that has the potential to transform children’s lives in Scotland.

For those working in Early Learning and Childcare the existing rights based approach will be strengthened by the passing of this bill. 

Purnima Tanuku OBE, Chief Executive of NDNA, said: “The passing of the UNCRC incorporation Bill represents a historic landmark for children’s rights in Scotland. The fact that the legislation had cross party support shows the level of commitment across the political spectrum.

“Early learning and childcare providers like nurseries have a strong history of focussing on children’s rights and getting the best outcomes for the children in their care. At NDNA our quality vision is strongly founded in the UNCRC articles already. Throughout the pandemic, early years settings have supported children and families and we’re proud of everything nurseries do to support children’s development in their earliest years.

“As we move forward with roll-out and implementation of the new law, NDNA Scotland will be focussing on supporting members with any new requirements and translating this into nurseries’ policies and procedures but also day to day practice.”

The UNCRC sets out the specific rights that all children have to help fulfil their potential, including rights relating to health and education, leisure and play, fair and equal treatment, protection from exploitation and the right to be heard.

The Bill:

  • Directly incorporates the UNCRC as far as possible within the powers of the Scottish Parliament
  • Makes it unlawful for public authorities and anyone undertaking functions or providing services to children with public money to act incompatibly with the incorporated UNCRC requirements
  • Gives power to the Children’s Commissioner to take legal action in relation to children’s rights
  • Requires Ministers to produce a Children’s Rights Scheme setting out how they comply with children’s rights and to report annually
  • Requires listed public authorities to report every three years on how they comply with children’s rights
  • Gives children, young people and their representatives the right to go to court to enforce their rights, if necessary.

NDNA Scotland is currently working on resources for members that will include training and materials to help support the implementation of the Act into practice.