What is UNCRC reporting?
The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child is the body set up by the UN to monitor the progress that States make in keeping their human rights promises under the UNCRC. It’s made up of 18 independent experts on children’s rights from different countries.
UNCRC reporting takes place when the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child examines the whole UK on how well it’s meeting its promises under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).
The Committee last examined the UK’s progress on the UNCRC in 2016. Our office is a key part of this process as we are able to report directly to the Committee to inform their assessment.
Latest report 2022
Children’s Commissioners inform UN on governments’ rights record
In November 2022, we submitted our joint report to the with the Children’s Commissioners from Wales and Northern Ireland.
In our “report card” to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child – the three Commissioners have highlighted areas of children’s rights that they are worried about – including poverty, mental health, and proposed changes to the Human Rights Act by the UK Government.
The UK Government has a duty to tell the Committee what they are doing to make children’s rights a reality. As part of that reporting process, the Commissioners tell the UN what they think governments are doing well, and what needs to be done better.
Since the last report in 2016, some progress has been made, but there are lots of outstanding issues across a broad range of rights.
Children and young people’s views must be central to decisions affecting them, and the Commissioners have also submitted a report of children’s voices and experiences.
Children and young people have shared many concerns about their rights, with poverty and mental health being a shared concern from Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.
Poverty affects every aspect of a child’s life.
Children experiencing poverty face barriers others do not consider, such as travel costs to and from education.
A Young Adviser from Scotland said:
“If you grow up in a deprived area and don’t have access to money, you won’t be able to afford fares for transport or access job opportunities or opportunities as a whole.”
Commissioner Bruce Adamson: “Scotland is still failing on many of the issues raised when we last reported six years ago, and for many children, life in that time has got much worse. Alongside the failures on poverty and mental health, we still imprison children, and our age of criminal responsibility is just 12; two years below the international minimum standard. What does this say about how we value children? The Scottish Government needs to take urgent action to protect, respect and fulfill children’s rights.”
View the latest report
Children and young people’s views must be central to decisions affecting them, and the Commissioners also submitted a report of children’s voices and experiences from across Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.
How and when does the UK report to the UN?
UNCRC reporting is about all the UK’s countries
The UK is unusual in being a UN Member State that contains four countries― Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
UNCRC reporting looks at whether the UK Government is keeping its human rights promises, but also if our devolved governments are as well.
Because of this, the Children and Young People’s Commissioners of all four of the UK’s countries are involved in UNCRC reporting.
There are other parts of the UK that aren’t part of these four countries. For example, Jersey’s Children’s Commissioner reports to the UN separately.
Children and young people can report to the UN in any way they choose about the issues that affect them. For example, they might choose to report in a creative way like making a piece of art.
When do the UK’s Commissioners get involved in UN reporting?
December 2020: Choosing important issues
At the beginning of the reporting cycle, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child chooses 30 UK children’s rights issues to address.
Our first report of this cycle was released in December 2020 to help the Committee decide what these issues should be.
2022/2023: Responding to the UK Government
In January 2022, the UK Government submits a report to the Committee on the progress it’s made in addressing the 30 issues, and the challenges faced in doing so.
It’s a report that covers what all the UK’s governments have done, including devolved administrations.
We then write a report which is in response to the UK Government’s report, which sets out where we agree with it and where we don’t.
In 2022 the Committee will also learn more about children’s human rights issues in the UK by:
- asking questions to a wide range of people and organisations, and
- hearing evidence from these people and organisations.
The people and organisations they’ll meet to do this include:
- children and young people,
- the UK’s Children’s Commissioners,
- the UK Government, and
- members of Civil Society.
On 7 February 2023, the Commissioner will be in Geneva to speak with the Committee about the issues we have raised in our report. In particular, the Commissioner will be highlighting the importance of moving forward with the incorporation of the UNCRC into Scots law and telling the committee about the impact poverty and the cost of living are having on children in Scotland.
2023: Concluding Observations are released
The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child will review all of the information they have received, then hold an examination with the UK Government in Geneva and ask them for more information.
After this, they will write Concluding Observations that call on the UK Government to make changes to fix any problems and progress children’s human rights.