The Children’s Law Centre is founded on the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) which aims to protect, promote and realise the rights of all children and young people in Northern Ireland. The full text of the Convention can be accessed here.
The UNCRC is the most highly ratified international human rights treaty in the world and it also contains the broadest range of rights of all the UN treaties and is a powerful tool in the furtherance of children’s rights. The UNCRC applies to all children, defined in it as, “every human being below the age of eighteen years unless, under the law applicable to the child, the majority is attained earlier”.
The UK Government ratified the Convention in December 1991. In doing so the Government has committed to upholding a set of non-negotiable and legally binding minimum standards and obligations in respect of all aspects of children’s lives, from respecting and promoting fundamental principles such as the best interests of the child and the child’s right to be heard, to rights in areas such as standard of living, education, care and protection, health, juvenile justice and play.
Through ratification the Government has also made a commitment to recognise and respond to the specific needs of particular groups of children and young people who may suffer discrimination, such as Travellers and other ethnic minorities, children and young people with disabilities, asylum seeking children, children in care, children in the juvenile justice system and others.
The UK Government was last examined in 2016 by the Committee on the Rights of the Child on its compliance with its obligations under the UNCRC. The full text of the Committee’s Concluding Observations and Recommendations can be found here.