UNCRC Incorporation

Incorporation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC)  was unanimously passed into Scots Law by the Scottish Parliament on 16 March 2021 with the United Nations on the Rights of the Child (Incorporation) (Scotland) Bill. The Bill incorporates the UNCRC into the law in Scotland. It is currently scheduled to come into force (ie become law) on 1September 2021.

It was confirmed on 12 March that the UK Government will refer certain sections of the Bill to the Supreme Court with concerns that these parts go beyond the legislative powers of the Scottish Parliament. This relates to constitutional law rather than the policy intention of protecting children’s rights behind the Bill which the UK Government in an earlier letter made it clear it had no objection to.

We continue to be fully supportive of incorporation of the UNCRC into Scots Law and hope that its implementation will not be delayed.

The UNCRC is an international human rights treaty that covers all aspects of children’s lives. It includes civil, political, economic and cultural rights.

The UNCRC is clear that the family is the natural place for children to grow up and should be afforded support and protection by the state to bring up children.

…the family, as the fundamental group in 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.


The Bill will mean that:

  • public authorities must not act in a way that’s incompatible with the UNCRC requirements 
  • courts will have powers to decide if legislation is compatible with the UNCRC requirements 
  • the Scottish Government can change laws to make sure they are compatible with the UNCRC requirements
  • the Children and Young People’s Commissioner in Scotland would have power to take legal action if children’s rights under the UNCRC are breached
  • the Scottish Government must publish a Children’s Rights Scheme to show how they are meeting UNCRC requirements and explain their future plans for children’s rights
  • the Scottish Government must review how the Scheme is working every year
  • other public authorities mentioned in the Bill must report every three years on what they have done to meet the UNCRC requirements.