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Sturgeon announces ‘ambitious’ Bill to enshrine UN convention in Scots law

UK News | Published:

The Bill has been welcomed by UN children’s charity Unicef and Scotland’s Children’s Commissioner.

School pupil raising hand

Scotland’s First Minister has announced plans to make a UN convention law.

During the programme for government announcement on Tuesday, Nicola Sturgeon announced that a Bill will soon be introduced to enshrine the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), describing the Bill as “one of the most ambitious pieces of legislation in the 20- year history of devolution”.

The UNCRC (Incorporation) Bill will, if passed, ensure that the experience of young people and their families and representatives will be consistent across all public services in Scotland.

The convention. which has 54 separate articles laying out the rights of children throughout their early life, covers the right to play, to be free from violence and to an education, among others.

Delivering the update to the Scottish Parliament, the First Minister said: “I can confirm that we will shortly introduce one of the most ambitious pieces of legislation in the 20-year history of devolution.

“We will – to the maximum extent possible – fully and directly incorporate into Scots law the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

“This will mean public authorities – including the Scottish Government – will be required by law to act in ways compatible with the Convention’s requirements to recognise, respect and be accountable for the rights of children in what we do.

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“The implications of this Bill will be profound, far reaching and long lasting.”

She added: “It is a commitment that exemplifies the importance this government attaches to the rights, opportunities and future of all our young people.”

The UN’s children’s charity Unicef welcomed the First Minister’s pledge, with chief executive Henrietta Fore saying: “On behalf of Unicef I congratulate the Scottish Government on its legislative proposal to incorporate the Convention on the Rights of the Child into Scots law.

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“Now more than ever, as children’s lives are disproportionately affected by the coronavirus pandemic, it’s vital that their rights are upheld.

“Unicef is ready to support the adoption and implementation of this historic bill. I discussed this issue with the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon last year and I am delighted to now see this pivotal announcement for the children of Scotland.”

Scotland’s Children’s Commissioner Bruce Adamson also welcomed the announcement, saying: “Rights must be enforceable to be effective and governments are often reluctant to pass laws which allow us to hold them to account.

“Which is why this new Bill incorporating the UNCRC into Scots law is so momentous.”

As well as legislation to enshrine the convention in Scots law, the First Minister also announced three other Bills to be put forward before next year’s election.

This includes the budget Bill and legislation allowing St Andrews University to provide medical and dental degrees.

The final proposal aims to tackle domestic abuse, allowing emergency orders to be placed on those accused of abuse to protect victims.

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