Faculty: UNCRC guidance ‘needs to get back to basics’



Guidance for public authorities about the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) needs to get back to basics, the Faculty of Advocates has suggested.

Under the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014, a duty is placed on a range of public bodies, such as local authorities and health boards, to publish a report every three years on steps taken in relation to the Convention.

The Scottish government has drafted guidance in a Consultation on Children’s Rights and Services Planning, but in response to the paper, the Faculty supports ways of making the guidance more effective.

“The purpose of the document is to assist public authorities to give better or further effect to the UNCRC. We suggest that the essential starting point should therefore be to set out the terms of the UNCRC. The first and most helpful step towards achieving the statutory aim must be to inform the relevant authorities what the UNCRC actually says,” the Faculty submitted.

“The proposal in the document is that implementation of the UNCRC is to some extent measured in a Civil Rights and Wellbeing Impact Assessment (CRWIA), based on the constructed notion of ‘wellbeing’ and the criteria of SHANARRI (safe, healthy, achieving, nurtured, active, respected, responsible and included).

“These are all worthy aspirations for children, but the point of this part of the legislation is to direct attention to the requirements of the UNCRC. If the Scottish government is aiming to implement the UNCRC, then the Faculty submits that it is necessary to start with the articles of the UNCRC, rather than wellbeing and SHANARRI.”

The Faculty said it believed the document could be strengthened by including a reflective analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of Scottish implementation of the UNCRC. If the aim of the legislation was to promote the effect of the UNCRC, the Faculty reasoned, then it would be logical to draw attention to areas where some deficit had been identified.

“For example, the need to take the views of children into account over ‘all matters affecting the child’ in accordance with article 12 has been a weakness in Scotland. There would be positive benefit in identifying this and exploring the ways in which public authorities should be taking account of the views of children,” the Faculty stated.