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Alternative Children’s Rights Impact Assessment

It’s clear that the coronavirus pandemic and Scotland’s response to it is having an enormous impact on children’s human rights.

And it’s clear the decisions still to come as we ease lockdown will affect them even more.

In order for the Government to comply with its obligations in international and Scots law, it has to assess the impact of those decisions on children before making them.

But there hasn’t been enough work done on what that impact looks like.

Although the Scottish Government has published Children’s Rights and Wellbeing Impact Assessments on some of the legislation passed around the pandemic, it is important that these assessments are done thoroughly and that they cover all law and policy that affects children.

In these exceptional circumstances, we think the Government needs some help to fulfil its obligations― and that there needs to be an independent assessment of what laws and policies around the coronavirus pandemic mean for children’s human rights in Scotland.

So we’re working with the Observatory of Children’s Human Rights Scotland to conduct an Alternative Children’s Rights Impact Assessment, which we expect to publish in early July.


Adults in power often make decisions that affect people― such as laws and policies. When they do this, they don’t always think about the impact these decisions will have on children and young people.

A Children’s Rights Impact Assessment, or CRIA,is a way to include children and young people in a decision. It looks at the ways the decision might affect the rights of children and young people― both positively and negatively.

By doing this, it means people know what the effect of the decision on children and young people is likely to be.

What’s the scope of the Alternative Impact Assessment?

Our Alternative Impact Assessment will cover the Scottish Government’s response to the pandemic, mainly focusing on the laws and policies it has put in place. It will look to include the views of children and young people.

It will focus on issues identified by our office and Together Scotland, as well as 11 issues identified by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child.

Its structure will be a version of the Scottish Government’s CRWIA template, so the resulting Impact Assessment can effectively inform Government policy.

Who will be involved in creating the Impact Assessment?

The Assessment will be created by subject leads who are experts in their fields – like education, poverty and youth justice – and will consult specialists in specific areas not covered by subject leads.

Experts involved include:

  • Fiona Mitchell, Head of Evidence and Innovation at CELCIS,
  • Doctor Claire Houghton, University of Edinburgh,
  • Theresa Casey, former President of the International Play Association,
  • Doctor Christina McMellon and Doctor Alice Maclachlan of Triumph Network,
  • Doctor Zoe Picton-Howell, University of York,
  • Doctor Claire Lightowler, Director, Centre for Youth and Criminal Justice,
  • Doctor Laura Colucci-Gray, University of Edinburgh,
  • Professor Sheila Riddell, Chair in Inclusion and Diversity, University of Edinburgh.

What does the alternative Impact Assessment aim to do?

It will look at children’s human rights issues that have come up around laws and policies during the pandemic response in Scotland.

By doing this, it will also highlight any further rights issues that might come up in the future and find ways to make sure children’s human rights are embedded in law and policy as the situation around coronavirus continues to develop.

And it will help us learn what people noticed was negative for children in new laws and policies, and what was positive for them. It should help us understand more about what happens to children’s human rights in a time of crisis more generally.

The Impact Assessment will help us know which groups are more affected

The Assessment will help us find out which groups of children and young people are disproportionally affected by coronavirus and Scotland’s response to it, so we can highlight that they may need special attention.

The Impact Assessment will tell adults in power how things can be better for children

The Assessment will state what the UK Government, Scottish Government and other public bodies need to do to make the pandemic’s negative impact on children’s human rights as small as it can possibly be.

The Assessment will support us when we talk to adults in power

The information in the Impact Assessment will support us when we engage with the UK Government, Scottish Government and public bodies as they make new policies.

And it will also inform us when we engage with the UK and Scottish Parliaments as they make decisions and act as human rights guarantors.


A human rights guarantor is something or someone that acts to make sure human rights promises are kept by a State.

The Scottish Parliament is able to act as a human rights guarantor by:

  • making sure human rights are properly included in the laws it scrutinises, and
  • holding duty bearers to account so that they keep their human rights promises.

More about Children’s Rights Impact Assessments

The European Network of Ombudspersons for Children (ENOC) will hold its 2020 conference on Children’s Rights Impact Assessments and using them effectively.