Date Published: 3 October 2008

UNICEF UK calls for UNCRC to be incorporated into law

UNICEF UK today called for the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) to be incorporated into UK domestic law. The Convention was ratified by the UK Government in 1991, giving children in the UK a comprehensive set of rights.

The charity’s announcement echoed recommendations made in a report released today from the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, detailing how well the UK Government has been implementing the UN CRC since it was last assessed in 2002 and outlining recommendations.

David Bull, Executive Director of UNICEF UK commented,

We share the UN Committee’s assessment today that a lot of progress has been achieved by the UK government in its implementation of the Convention since 2002. In particular, removing the remaining reservations to the Convention; establishing a separate government department for children; adopting the Children’s Plan. Each shows a growing commitment to children’s rights and wellbeing.”

Recommendations

However, it is clear more needs to be done for children in this country,” Bull continued. “Despite good intentions, children’s rights are still not at the heart of policy making in the UK. The sheer number of recommendations made in the UN Committee’s report shows the scale and urgency of the problem. Most critical of all is that the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child needs to be incorporated into UK law so that children’s rights are explicitly recognised as a framework and reference.”

UNICEF UK is calling for the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child to be incorporated into UK law as it has been in many countries all over the world. In Europe these include, amongst others, Belgium, Cyprus, Finland, Norway, Portugal and Spain. This change would ensure the Convention could be explicitly recognised both as a reference point and framework for those who make policy and deliver services affecting children. The charity is calling for this to happen before the next reporting process takes place in 2014.

Awareness

UNICEF UK also echoed the UN Committee’s concern that the majority of children and young people in the UK still do not know about the existence of the UNCRC, nor are they aware they have these rights. UNICEF, as the agency mandated within the UNCRC to foster the effective implementation of the Convention, is working to put children’s rights at the heart of society. Its Rights Respecting School initiative, commended in today’s report, places the UNCRC at the heart of UK schools and has found that integration of the Convention across the school curriculum and ethos has a positive affect on relationships, teaching approaches, attitudes and behaviour.

The organisation is also calling for youth participation and involvement in the Government’s response to today’s report. David Bull added,

It was vital that young people were involved in the preparation of the UK Government’s report to the Committee earlier this year. Now the Government needs to ensure that children’s voices continue to be heard, as they develop their response to the recommendations made today.”

Next year, UNICEF UK plans to work with the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) to establish a training programme for civil servants on children’s rights, helping to increase understanding of children’s rights in the Government.

The leading children’s organisation drew urgent attention today to the Government’s commitments to halve child poverty by 2010 and end it by 2020. Chief Executive David Bull explained,

We welcomed Gordon Brown’s recent announcement stating the Government's intention to enshrine in law their pledge to end child poverty. This is excellent news, and we await more details. However, the Government is not on track to meet its child poverty targets. That’s why tomorrow, Saturday October 4th 2008 thousands of young people, families and supporters of the End Child Poverty Campaign from across the country will be coming together in London’s Trafalgar Square to demand the Government keep their promise to end child poverty. Together we can hold the Government to their promise.”

 

Source: UNICEF Main Website.
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