Government commits to “embedding children’s rights”

The government has committed to giving due consideration to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child when developing new policy and legislation.

This pledge was first made on behalf of the coalition government by former children’s minister Sarah Teather, back in December 2010.

The renewed promise came in response to a parliamentary question from Labour Peer Ruth Lister.

Education minister Lord Nash explains, “We believe that embedding children’s rights in government policy can strengthen services and improve outcomes for children”.

The minister’s statement cites government guidance on children’s homes as an example of children’s rights implementation. This guidance requires children’s homes managers to inform children of their rights and how to contact the Office for Children’s Commissioner for England for advice and assistance.

The UK ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1991. Articles 2 and 4 require governments to take all appropriate action, including through legislation, to make the Convention’s rights a reality for all children. These are much stronger legal obligations than giving due consideration to the treaty.

Children’s rights campaigners welcomed the due consideration promise when it was first made, because it signalled the Convention could play a much bigger role in government policy-making.

In March this year, parliament’s joint committee on human rights, of which Baroness Lister was a member from 2012, called on the government to restate its commitment to giving due consideration to the Convention but also urged ministers to act on pledges like these “more avidly and to ensure that the good intentions they signify have practical and positive effects”.

Article 42 requires widespread dissemination of the Convention, to children and adults alike. The last time the UK Government published information booklets on the Convention was in 1998.