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UNCRC Incorporation (Scotland) Bill – Policy Briefing

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SYP sent the Policy Briefing below to Members of the Scottish Parliament ahead of the UNCRC Incorporation (Scotland) Bill reconsideration debate:

Dear decision maker,

The UNCRC Incorporation (Scotland) Bill returns to the Scottish Parliament tomorrow. It was over two and a half years ago that children and young people celebrated their rights being brought into law after the Bill passed unanimously in the Scottish Parliament. The Scottish Youth Parliament (SYP) and other children and young people’s rights organisations have spent the last two years calling for the Scottish Government to bring the Bill back to the Scottish Parliament and incorporate UNCRC rights to the maximum extent possible and working with Scottish Government, Public Bodies, and other duty bearers to help prepare them for incorporation.

As a rights-based organisation SYP has been advocating for children and young people’s rights throughout our 25 year history. Our 2016 youth manifesto, Lead the Way – which received more than 70,000 responses from young people – found that 76% agreed that ‘The United National Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) should be fully incorporated into Scots law, and the rights of children and young people should be protected and promoted’.  Our Right Here, Right Now campaign in 2017 saw SYP work with other human rights defenders to urge the Scottish Government to commit to incorporation. Since then, we haven’t stopped talking about it.

Our asks here are simple:

  1. Support the UNCRC Incorporation (Scotland) Bill to send a message to children and young people across Scotland that decision-makers in their Parliament believe their rights deserve protection.
  2. Lift up the voices of children and young people throughout the future of Scotland’s children and young people’s rights journey to ensure we see the culture change around respecting rights required to make Scotland the best place in the world to grow up.

Some MSYPs gave messages to decision-makers before the debate.

Urging MSPs to support the Bill, Olivia Brown MSYP for Midlothian North and Musselburgh and Trustee of the Scottish Youth Parliament said:

“I am still optimistic that we can make this bill have a real impact on the lives of children and young people after the changes. But to make that work, we need to recognise that part of upholding our rights includes making this proposed legislation easy for children and young people to understand. It must be made extremely clear what it will and won’t do, and how it will empower us.

“While we might disagree on a hundred other things, the one thing, I hope, everyone can agree on is that we want children and young people’s rights to be made law. And so I am asking you to forget the hundred, and focus on the one.”

Isla Grant MSYP for Aberdeenshire East and Convener of SYP’s External Affairs, UK and International Relations said of the culture change required:

“Creating a change of culture is key to ensuring that implementation of the UNCRC has a real, tangible effect on Scottish life. To young people, knowing that the adults tasked with looking after us really do care about our rights and wellbeing is as important as the implementation of the rights themselves.”

Speaking about Scotland’s children and young people’s rights journey, Marcus Flucker MSYP for Angus South and Trustee of the Scottish Youth Parliament said:

“It’s important that we remember this is just the next step on the journey to protect children’s rights in Scotland. This vote is not the final destination but instead is a key milestone. Yes, we have waited a long time for this moment, but the real hard work for decision-makers in only starting.

“Our Local Authorities and public bodies will need a huge amount of help and guidance if this bill is to live up to the expectations of young people. I know MSYPs will be encouraging and supporting them throughout the implementation period, but I have no doubt they will also be unafraid in reminding them when they need to go further.”

Ellie Craig MSYP for Glasgow Cathcart and Vice-Chair of the Scottish Youth Parliament speaking about involving children and young people in every stage of implementation said:

“The UNCRC Bill is a crucial step in Scotland’s Journey to becoming a country which promotes the rights of children and young people. The next step is ensuring children and young people are meaningfully involved in every stage of the implementation programme for the bill. I hope that with the bill, there is a culture shift to not only upholding children’s rights but respecting and valuing them. Article 12 inspires an amazing opportunity for children and young people to be meaningfully involved in decision making processes. This is an exciting chance to create policies which not only work for children and young people, but everyone.”

Yours Sincerely,

Scottish Youth Parliament

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