The UNCRC - What does it mean for families?

The UNCRC: What does it mean for families?

Parenting across Scotland held a webinar on 16 Sept 2021 on the UNCRC: What does it mean for families? With speakers, Juliet Harris, Director, Together and Professor Brid Featherstone, Professor of Social Work, University of Huddersfield.


The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) is crucial for families as well as children – it supports families to bring up children. Its preamble states:

“Convinced that the family, as the fundamental group of society and the natural environment for the growth and well-being of all its members and particularly children, should be afforded the necessary protection and assistance so that it can fully assume its responsibilities within the community,

Recognizing that the child, for the full and harmonious development of his or her personality, should grow up in a family environment, in an atmosphere of happiness, love and understanding…”

Scotland intends to incorporate the UNCRC into domestic law as far as it is able to do so, and to this end passed the United Nations Incorporation on the Rights of the Child (Incorporation) (Scotland) Bill in 2021. This Bill has not yet become law as it was referred to UK Supreme Court by the UK Government; in September 2021 the UK Supreme Court ruled that parts of the Bill were outside the competence of the Scottish Parliament powers. The Scottish Government now intends to return the Bill to the Scottish Parliament to amend it within competence.


Juliet Harris, Director of Together’s presentation covered:

  • what the UNCRC provisions cover
  • how families are included within the UNCRC
  • particular articles which are particularly relevant
  • what incorporation means
  • the Bill: proactive and reactive approaches, culture and breaches

This was followed by Professor Brid Featherstone, whose presentation looked at:

  • Rights versus reality
  • Whether the UNCRC is a Eurocentric model
  • The tensions between relational and rights based approaches
  • Inequalities pre and post Covid
  • How we ground children’s rights in children’s lived realities and ensure that rights are more than reductively individual and contribute to creating a more just society

Discussion and questions

A lively discussion followed with questions including the following.

When discussing children’s rights not being met who can we/they go to challenge this?

How can we best promote understanding for Early Years children 2-5 to empower them and ensure they have some sort of understanding of rights?

What about parents struggling to access psychological support for their children due to increasing mental health struggles?

Could you say a bit more about how UNCRC incorporation (and particularly Article 26 + 27) could be used to build the case for tackling child poverty in Scotland?

How can we ensure that when challenges are made about children's rights being breached learning is wider than just one child's experience?

You can watch the whole recording here.

This is the first in a series of PAS webinars about the UNCRC and families. The next is The UNCRC: supporting families on 20th January 2022.