UNCRC Implementation Project: putting children's rights at the heart of local government

Supporting Children's Rights: UNCRC in Scotland

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (Incorporation) (Scotland) Act 2024 gained Royal Assent in January 2024.

The Improvement Service is actively supporting local authorities across Scotland to prepare for the incorporation of the UNCRC and take forward a children’s rights approach to policy and practice.

“Decision makers and duty bearers in Scotland must now work towards embedding and respecting children and young people’s rights in every aspect of Scottish life. We want Scotland to be the best place in the world to grow up and this is now an incredible opportunity to make that a reality.”

Chair of the Scottish Youth Parliament Mollie McGoran MSYP

What is the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child?

Children and young people have the same human rights as adults. These are the same rights that protect everyone. They span the entire spectrum of civil, political, economic, social, cultural and environmental rights. Children and young people also have additional rights that recognise that childhood is a special, protected time, in which children must be allowed to grow, learn, play, develop and flourish with dignity.

Specific human rights for children are set out in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) is an international treaty that sets out the rights of children aged from 0 to 18 years old including the right to an identity, to education and to play. The Convention is also the most widely supported human rights treaty in the world, having been ratified by all UN member states except for the United States. The Convention came into force in the UK in 1991.

What is happening to protect children's rights in Scotland?

The UNCRC informs many aspects of policy and practice for children and young people in Scotland including Getting It Right For Every Child and Keeping the Promise. The Scottish Government have a clear ambition that Scotland should be the best place to grow up and that all children should have a good start in life and a safe, healthy and happy childhood.

On 7 December 2023, the Scottish Parliament unanimously passed the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (Incorporation) (Scotland) Bill (‘the UNCRC Bill’ or ‘the bill) for the second time. The Bill gained Royal Assent in January 2024.

The ambition of the UNCRC Bill is to deliver a proactive culture of everyday accountability for children’s rights across public services in Scotland. It will require all Scotland’s public authorities to take proactive steps to ensure the protection of children’s rights in their decision-making and service delivery and make it unlawful for public authorities, including the Scottish Government, to act incompatibly with the UNCRC requirements as set out in the Bill. The Bill means that public authorities will be required to comply with the UNCRC requirements when delivering devolved functions conferred by or under Acts of the Scottish Parliament or under common law powers.

Supporting local authorities to embed the UNCRC

The Improvement Service is working with local authorities across Scotland to support them to be ready for UNCRC Incorporation and to embed children’s rights approaches to their work. Please get in touch with us to discuss how we can support the work you are doing locally.

  • Join: our Peer Support Network for those leading on UNCRC implementation in a Scottish Local Authority and share ideas, learning and support for taking children’s rights forward
  • Support and Guidance: get in touch to find out how we can tailor our support to your local authority. Use our Getting Ready for the UNCRC resource to help you navigate how to prepare for the UNCRC.
  • Resources and Information: our Knowledge Hub group to access resources and connect with others working on children’s rights in Scotland and get inspiration to develop your approach
  • Join in: our events and webinars which are advertised on the KHub and on Twitter
  • Discuss: get in touch to talk about your work and what support would be best for you. For example, we can attend your working group meeting, connect you with others working on similar projects or talk through some issues you are facing to find potential solutions.
Get in touch

Rebecca Spillane, UNCRC Implementation Project Manager


Tel: 07917 677124

Twitter: @beckyporty

Felicia Szloboda, UNCRC and Child Poverty Project Officer


Twitter: @felicia.szloboda 

Knowledge Hub: Children's Human Rights in Scotland #UNCRC