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Children and young people meet Cabinet on landmark day as UNCRC Bill passes stage 3.

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Today saw the fifth Annual meeting between children and young people and the Scottish Cabinet I have had the privilege of attending.

It is a stand-out moment on my calendar and has been a fantastic opportunity. However, a lot, as we are all too aware, has changed since the last time we came together, and in fact, this time last year we were only weeks from a national lockdown.

Alongside today’s online meeting we are celebrating stage 3 of the UNCRC incorporation bill progressing through Parliament, and hopefully becoming law. This morning marked the third cabinet meeting where MSYPs and MCPs have called on government to commit to doing this, and it is amazing that after campaigning, engaging and debating, today this will become a reality.

The incorporation of the UNCRC will be a monumental step forward in our campaign for a rights-respecting society and will work towards young people’s voices being heard at the heart of decision-making in Scotland.

The impact of this legislation cannot go understated.

With the incorporation of the UNCRC being passed and implemented into law before the end of this year, we can begin to see its impact, which is fantastic news. Empowering young people with the ability to voice their opinions and give them a standing to defend their rights.

Having made it so far, it is time to recognise that this is just the beginning of our human rights journey. Radical societal and cultural change will not occur overnight. As we now move on to implementing the UNCRC Bill, yet again, and in fact even more so, young people must be at the heart of the process in a meaningful way. The process which comes into being must ensure that it works for those vulnerable, so that it consistently works for all.

The annual cabinet meeting with children and young people is a unique and powerful opportunity for young people to access article 12 in practice. It gave young people a platform to call for the UNCRC to be incorporated and today we see this become a reality. This speaks volumes to its value and importance.

SYP Chair, Josh Kennedy presents to the Cabinet Takeover meeting.
SYP Chair, Josh Kennedy, presents to the Cabinet Takeover meeting.

The changes we have seen occur from actions agreed in our annual meeting demonstrate the power of the Scottish Youth Parliament’s and the Children’s Parliament’s democratic mandates. We hope to continue this journey by representing our peers in future meetings.

I for one, as we emerge from an unprecedented global pandemic, am excited to challenge the next government to continued pursuance to make Scotland the best place in the world to grow up.

This is an excellent way, in the realm of children’s rights, to begin that journey.

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