The Scottish parliament has voted unanimously for Scotland to become the first devolved nation to incorporate the UN charter on the rights of the child (UNCRC) into domestic law.
The UNCRC grants all people under the age of 18 a comprehensive set of rights – including rights to health, education, family life, play and recreation, and protection from abuse and harm. Incorporating it into Scots law will make it unlawful for public authorities, including the Scottish Government, to act incompatibly with the UNCRC requirements.
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (Incorporation) (Scotland) Bill is a landmark piece of legislation that incorporates the UNCRC into Scots law to the maximum extent of the Scottish Parliament’s powers. The Scottish government said:
“The Bill empowers children and young people to claim their rights and help to make Scotland the best place in the world to grow up. We will be the first devolved government in the world to directly incorporate UNCRC.”
The bill had previously been challenged by lawyers for Westminster on the grounds that it placed demands on bodies outside the jurisdiction of the Scottish parliament. The revised version of the bill is now waiting for Royal Assent in Westminster, and should take place in January 2024, unless further challenges are made.
Shortly after the vote was passed, the Scottish government also published guidance for local authorities to help them meet the requirements of the new Play Sufficiency Assessment Regulations 2023.