Why Incorporate

The Rights of the Child UK coalition believes the UK Government should directly incorporate the entire UN Convention on the Rights of the Child into UK law:

1. A shared vision for the UK's children: A comprehensive child rights law will ensure far better implementation of the Convention in the UK and achieve positive changes that the current "piecemeal" approach could only produce over a long period of time, if ever. Some of the positive implications would be:

  • More extensive realisation of all children's rights, especially the right to be heard.
  • A clear channel of redress for breaches of children's rights.
  • A consistent approach to policy through using the Convention as the framework for all public policies and services relating to children (policy affecting children is currently fragmented between departments and levels of government, and different approaches to children's issues are increasingly apparent between the UK Government and the devolved administrations).
  • Increased knowledge and understanding of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

2. Making children's rights a reality: Although direct incorporation is not required by international law, the Rights of the Child UK coalition believes it is necessary to enable the UK to give full effect to the binding commitment it made to children by ratifying the Convention in 1991.

3. Failings of the "piecemeal" approach: Research shows that this approach tends to focus on specific areas or groups of children, and omits many of the rights set out in the Convention from the process of law reform.6

4. Lessons from abroad: The Convention has been incorporated into the law in a variety of ways in two-thirds of 60 countries studied in 2008 by UNICEF's Innocenti Research Centre, illustrating that such a step is an achievable one for the UK.7

5. Clear support from children and young people: Children say they want the UK Government to do more to ensure their rights are acknowledged and respected.8

6. Widespread support for incorporation from human rights bodies, Parliamentarians and civil society: The UK Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights9 and the Children's Commissioners for England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales have all called for the incorporation of the Convention into domestic law. The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child strongly favours incorporation and has repeatedly called on the UK Government to take this step - most recently in its 2008 examination of children's rights in the UK.