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The UNCRC is being incorporated into Scots law. This is how it’s going to make a difference


An image of children inside a semicircle with a Scottish flag on it and a sun radiating out from the top, which symbolises UNCRC Incorporation in Scotland.

UNCRC Incorporation is the most important thing Scotland can do to protect the rights of children and young people.

Now, it’s becoming a reality.

Today the First Minister announced a UNCRC Incorporation Bill as part of Scotland’s 2020/21 Programme for Government.

This Bill looks to put the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child into Scots law to the maximum extent possible.

But while incorporation will make a real difference, a lot of people of all ages might still have a lot of questions about it.

What incorporation is.

Why it matters.

And the changes we can expect once it becomes part of Scots law.

So as incorporation comes before the Scottish Parliament, here’s some information about what everything means.

What is UNCRC Incorporation?

Image of children beside a Scottish flag with a heart inside it, along with the text "UNCRC Incorporation puts children's human rights at the heart of Scots law."

“Incorporating” just means “making a part of.” Incorporation of the UNCRC means putting an international law – the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child – into Scots law.

When this happens, children’s rights will be at the heart of decisions made here in Scotland when new laws and policies are made.

Why does UNCRC Incorporation matter?

An image of children beside the text "UNCRC Incorporation means people can get justice in Scotland when a child's rights aren't respected."

We know from other countries that UNCRC incorporation brings with it real culture change. It means adults start thinking about your rights more, and take more meaningful action to make sure those rights are realised.

But it also means people and organisations – including the Scottish Government – can be taken to court in Scotland when they don’t respect your rights.

In countries that have done this already, we haven’t seen a big number of court cases – but it leads to better decisions being made.

How will UNCRC Incorporation make a difference?

An image of Maria (17) with her quote "Every decision that the Government makes- this will be there holding them to account."

When countries incorporate the UNCRC, the way people in power respect children’s rights permanently changes.

This leads to better decisions, and resources being used more effectively to ensure children and their families get what they need. 

Scotland has a strong tradition of protecting children’s rights, but in many areas we haven’t done well enough. That’s particularly true for children whose rights are most at risk through things like poverty, being disabled, or not getting enough support. 

Incorporation is a way to translate that tradition into legislation. It makes it more likely the things those children have a right to will become permanent parts of their lives.

 And this includes things as vital as:

  • The food, clothes and housing they need
  • The support they need to stay physically and mentally healthy
  • The right to have a say in everything that affects them.

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