The UN’s annual climate change conference, COP26, will be held in Glasgow later this year.

COP stands for Conference of the Parties, and this will be the 26th one to happen.

What does “Conference of the Parties” mean?

A Party is a State that’s signed up to a particular international law. In this case, it’s the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

So at a Conference of the Parties these States take part in talks and negotiations around this Convention, other agreements, and solutions to climate change.


Your human rights and the ways they should be protected are written down in lots of different documents, so they can be part of international law and guidance.  An international human rights instrument is one of these documents― like the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

International human rights instruments usually contain:

  • a list of promises that governments have to keep, and
  • explanations of how governments can keep these promises

When a State – like the UK – signs up to an instrument like this, it agrees to keep the promises it contains.


A legal remedy is a way to set things right when your rights aren’t respected.

When your rights aren’t respected, sometimes the law is able to take action.

A court might make whoever didn’t respect your rights change their behaviour. That means they would have to respect your rights in the future.

Or the court might make whoever didn’t respect your rights give you something in return. For example, they might have to give you money.

These are just two kinds of legal remedy. Depending on what’s happened, there may be others.


Children and young people tend to be brought up by their birth parents, but some are brought up in other ways. Alternative care is a term used to describe these.

Some forms of alternative care are:

  • residential care,
  • foster care,
  • adoption,
  • kinship care― living with a family member other than a parent.

Unaccompanied children can also be placed in alternative care.


The four general principles of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child are that all children and young people:

Together, these four principles underpin how the Convention should be interpreted and put into practice.


Everyone has the right to a fair trial, whatever their age.

For children, this includes:

The right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty

Children have the right to be assumed innocent of a crime until the prosecution – whoever brought a case against them to court – has proven they are guilty of it.

The right to privacy while being tried

While a child is being tried, the media shouldn’t publish any information that might lead to them being identified by members of the public. This would include their name or address.

The right to effectively participate in their trial

A child must be able to follow their trial and understand what’s going on. They must also be able to express their views, and the judge must properly take their views into account.

All of these rights are set out in Article 40 of the UNCRC.


A Compulsory Supervision Order is a formal order made by a Children’s Hearing. It’s for children who need additional protection or support.

When an Order like this is made, it means a child’s local authority has to support them and give their family help.

It also means there are certain rules the child has to follow. For example, they may have to live in a certain place, such as in secure care or a children’s house, away from their family.

As a result of these laws, many 16 and 17-year-olds in Scotland are not recognised as children when they commit crimes. Instead, they are instead treated as adults in adult courts.


Secure accommodation is a place where children can go to get help if it isn’t safe to live at home because they might hurt themselves or someone else.

To make sure that they get the help they need and to keep them safe, they are locked in and can’t leave. It is a place that children should only go if there is no other place where they can get help.

It is important that children are involved in the decision to send them to secure accommodation. They should understand why it is in their best interest to be there.


Full incorporation means writing the whole of the UNCRC into Scots law— all of it, not just specific parts.

Direct incorporation means that the full legal text of the Convention would be written into Scots law— so no part of it is rewritten.


The rights in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) are indivisible because they can’t be separated from each other.

They shouldn’t be placed in an order so one’s more important than another, because they’re all part of a single broad structure that’s essential to human dignity.


Something is inalienable when it can’t be taken away from you and when you can’t give it away.

This is true of human rights. You can’t lose them because of something you’ve done, and you can’t choose to give them up.


As children grow older, they become more able to understand their lives and make decisions that affect them. This happens gradually, and it doesn’t happen at the same speed for everyone— it depends on things like a child’s experiences, education and maturity.

A child’s ability – or capacity – to make a reasoned decision will depend on the decision being made.

Evolving capacities is a term used to refer to the increasing ability to make reasoned decisions in different parts of a child’s life.

What does the UNCRC say about evolving capacities?

Article 5 of the UNCRC says that the direction and guidance parents give their children should reflect the evolving capacities of each child. When a child is younger, they will need more protection, as they may be more likely to make choices without considering or understanding the consequences. But as a child gets older, this will slowly become less true.

Evolving capacities are also important to Article 12 of the UNCRC.

All children have the right to have their view heard and for it to be taken seriously. But the weight their view is given is dependent on their evolving capacities― the extent to which they can understand the issue and the possible outcomes of a decision.   

The concept of evolving capacities should never be used to dismiss a child’s view. The child’s view needs to be taken seriously whenever it’s heard as it can change what an adult considers to be in a child’s best interests, by giving them a better idea of what’s important to the child and what they consider distressing.


Judicial and administrative proceedings are two different ways in which legal decisions are made.

Judicial proceedings are legal processes where a judge makes a decision around what should happen. Court cases are a form of judicial proceeding, and so are tribunals like children’s hearings.

Administrative proceedings are legal processes that don’t involve a judge. Usually, they’re carried out by a government body.


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.


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.

The Council of Europe has an important role in protecting the human rights of hundreds of millions of people, including children and young people. But a lot of those people don’t really know what it is.

It often gets confused with the European Union, but it’s a completely different institution. 46 States across Europe are Member States of the Council of Europe, including States inside and outside of the EU.

The UK, which Scotland is a part of, is a Member State of the Council of Europe. This means it follows the European Convention on Human RightsThis is a law that enshrines certain rights and freedoms in all 46 Member States, including the UK. It applies to everyone in these States, including children and young people.

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