Rights of the Child UK – Rock coalition

CRAE has formed a UK-wide coalition with major charities and children’s rights activists calling on the Government to make the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) part of UK law.  The coalition is called Rights of the Child UK (Rock).

Rock coalition members

The Rock coalition’s member organisations are: the British Humanist Association, the Centre for Studies on Inclusive Education, the Children’s Rights Alliance for England (CRAE), the Fatherhood Institute, the National Youth Advocacy Service, the National Youth Agency, NCB, the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC), Scope, Save the Children UK, Sefton Voices and Unicef UK.  A list of our individual supporters is available upon request.

Why make the UNCRC part of our national law?

We believe that incorporation of the UNCRC into our domestic law would be the best way to achieve rights protection for children in all areas of their lives, regardless of their circumstances or setting.  Eighteen years after the Convention was ratified by the UK, and following the withdrawal last year of two significant reservations, we believe incorporation is long overdue.

To find out more, download Katy Swaine’s presentation to the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Children at their 2 June meeting.

Coalition meeting in Edinburgh on Monday 13 July

We held our most recent quarterly meeting in Edinburgh on Monday 13 July, at which we heard from Joanna Mackenzie of the Scottish Government Children’s Rights Unit and Laura Paton from Scotland’s Commissioner for Children and Young People, as well as child rights activists and experts and representatives from NGOs, about the debate in Scotland on making the CRC part of national law.  We are grateful to Save the Children Scotland for hosting this event.  A note of the meeting will be posted on this page shortly.

Our next quarterly meeting will be held in Belfast in October.  Details will be posted here in due course.  All quarterly meetings are open to non-members.

The coalition’s response to the UK Government’s proposals for a Bill of Rights and Responsibilities

In March 2009 the UK Government published a Green Paper on a future Bill of Rights and Responsibilities.  The coalition for UNCRC incorporation welcomes the Government’s placing of children at the heart of the Green Paper, and its recognition of the UNCRC as a crucial instrument to achieve change for children.  However, we believe the Government must go much further.

The UK Government has expressed a strong vision to make this country the best place in the world for children to grow up.  We believe this can only be achieved by making the UNCRC part of UK law, bringing it within the reach of all children in the UK regardless of their circumstances or setting.   The proposed Bill of Rights and Responsibilities presents a unique opportunity to make this happen.

The Government has taken important steps in this Green Paper by recognising the need to foster greater respect for children and young people in UK society and by explicitly acknowledging children as rights holders, as well as drawing attention to the responsibility of wider society towards children.  The Government has also crucially emphasised the importance of ensuring that children’s existing rights remain in place – including those protected under the Human Rights Act – and that any new measures build on these safeguards.

However, we are disappointed that the UK Government has not set out any plans to incorporate the UNCRC into UK law, nor to create any new enforceable rights for children.  We also remain concerned about the UK Government’s proposals for more explicit links between rights and responsibilities, the implications of which still do not have appear to have been fully thought through.

The UK Government is right to put children at the heart of its plans.  However, if it is to have any chance of creating the best place in the world for children to grow up, it must do much more.  We look forward to the continuing debate.

Find out more

Read the Rock coalition’s terms of reference here.  For more information or to join the coalition, contact Katy Swaine