Today (20 November 2019) marks the 30th anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). As the preeminent organisation monitoring government compliance with the CRC in England, the Children’s Rights Alliance for England (CRAE), part of Just for Kids Law, is marking the day by looking back at the achievements in children’s rights over the last three decades, and highlighting areas where progress still needs to be made.
Major milestones in the promotion of children’s rights in England since the CRC was signed include:
- Establishment of the first child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) (1998).
- Banning use of corporal punishment against children in private schools (1999).
- Appointment of the first Children’s Minister (2003) and the creation of the office of the Children’s Commissioner for England (2004).
- Ending immigration detention of children (2010).
Areas where progress still needs to be made include:
- Continued use of force by police against children, high levels of physical and emotional harm suffered by children in child prisons, and disproportionate representation of children from BAME backgrounds throughout the criminal justice system.
- High levels of child poverty and homelessness, including growing numbers of families housed in inappropriate B&B accommodation for longer than the six-week legal limit.
- Despite having been ratified by the UK government in December 1991, the CRC is still not part of UK domestic legislation.
Throughout the day, CRAE will be publishing a series of infographics on social media to promote the achievements of the CRC and call for action to address areas where children’s rights are not being met.
Louise King, Director of the Children’s Rights Alliance for England, part of Just for Kids Law, said:
“Today marks a special milestone when we can look back on 30 years of the CRC, the standard for children’s rights around the world. But while a lot of progress has been made in the last three decades, there are still many areas where England is falling short in implementing children’s rights. It is especially disappointing that, 30 years after it was adopted by the United Nations, the CRC has still not been made part of UK domestic law. With a child rights duty on Welsh and Scottish Ministers and plans to incorporate the CRC in Scotland, England risks falling behind other countries in the UK in protecting the rights of children. Whichever party forms the next UK government, we look forward to working with them to ensure that all children in the country benefit from the rights they are entitled to.”
Enver Solomon, CEO of Just for Kids Law, said:
“Three decades on there have certainly been many positive changes to policy and practice to implement children's rights but unfortunately there still remain too many instances when children’s rights are overlooked. In prison, in school, in the mental health system, in the housing system and in the way they are policed in our communities children continue to have their rights trampled on. And it is the most vulnerable children who are often victims of the worst rights abuses. The next government must ensure that every child, particularly those with the greatest needs, have their rights respected and promoted.”
Notes to Editors
- Just for Kids Law is a UK charity that works with and for children and young people to hold those with power to account and fight for wider reform by providing legal representation and advice, direct advocacy and support, and campaigning to ensure children and young people in the UK have their legal rights and entitlements respected and promoted and their voices heard and valued.
- The Children’s Rights Alliance for England (CRAE), part of Just for Kids Law, works with over 100 members to promote children’s rights and monitor government implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
- The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) is an international treaty designed specifically for children. The treaty was adopted by the United Nations on 20 November 1989. The UK ratified the CRC in December 1991, though it has yet to be made part of UK domestic law.
- CRAE publishes an annual report to monitor implementation of the CRC in England. The latest State of Children’s Rights report was published in March 2019 and is available here: http://www.crae.org.uk/publications-resources/state-of-childrens-rights-2018/