November 20th 2019 marks 30 years of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).

There are a broad array of international instruments which set out the human rights of children, but the UNCRC is the first legally binding international instrument to incorporate their full range of civil, cultural, economic, political, and social rights, as well as aspects of humanitarian law.

The UNCRC expands on the 1945 Charter of the United Nations which recognised that the inherent dignity and the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family are the foundation of freedom, justice, peace and social progress. It breathes life into the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) which proclaimed that childhood is entitled to special care and assistance.

The UNCRC is the most rapidly and widely ratified international human rights treaty in history. It changed the way children are viewed and treated in international legal terms.

It obliges governments to change laws and policies and prioritise resources to protect, respect, and fulfil children’s rights so they have the things they need to thrive – like good quality healthcare, education, nutritious food, a clean environment, and protections from violence and exploitation.

The Scottish Government has committed to incorporate the UNCRC into Scots Law by the end of this session of the Scottish Parliament in 2021. It is critical that this commitment is delivered as rights protections for children are now more important than ever. Global changes, like the rise of digital technology, climate change and prolonged conflict are completely changing childhood. Adult decision makers are struggling to develop legislative and policy responses to ensure rights are fulfilled in childhoods that are in many ways significantly different from our own experiences. As the experts in their own lives, children’s unique perspectives must be at the heart of our solutions.

Today I sought assurance from the Deputy First Minister that a proactive approach to ensure that the rights of all children are considered at the front end of all law and policy making and delivery.