UN to be Told Budget Cuts Will Compound Growing Number of Children’s Rights Breaches
16 May 2023
The Children’s Law Centre will lead a delegation, including 8 young people, to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child with a view to raising concern about breaches of children’s rights and how proposed budget cuts will adversely impact on children’s rights.
The Centre had previously submitted three damning reports, written by Dr Deena Haydon, and presented evidence to the Committee highlighting significant failures to protect children and young people in Northern Ireland.
Since then over two hundred leading organisations and individuals have endorsed a letter from the Children’s Law Centre to the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland outlining concern around the impact of budget cuts. The letter stated that cuts to services will cause active harm to children and young people. The Centre will now raise the concerns with the Committee, saying the cuts will compound the growing problems facing children and young people and lead to an increasing number of rights breaches.
Speaking ahead of the visit, Fergal McFerran, Policy and Public Affairs Manager at the Children’s Law Centre said:
“We have already made a strong case to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, outlining our concerns around the increasing number of failures in regards to children’s rights protections. Our previous delegation gave a clear account of the many challenges facing children and young people in Northern Ireland, with rights protections being eroded rather than extended.
“In the short time since we presented to the Committee in February, the situation has become even worse, with the budget announced by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Chris Heaton-Harris, set to cause active harm to children and young people.
“We wrote a letter to the Secretary of State which was signed by over 200 organisations and individuals outlining our concerns around the impact it will have on children’s rights and equality. We will now be raising this in Geneva. “We look forward to engaging further with the Committee and we are expecting strong recommendations in June. The focus must then be on swift implementation to give children and young people the protections they deserve.”
The delegation will be made up of children and young people from Youth@CLC, Include Youth, Voice of Young People in Care (VOYPIC) and Northern Ireland Youth Forum, funded by Paul Hamlyn Foundation. It will also include children’s rights experts and will aim to secure strong recommendations from the Committee as part of the UK Government examination process.
What is the UNCRC examination process?
The UK Government signed up to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) in 1990 and it was ratified in 1991. By ratifying the UNCRC, the UK Government have a duty under international law to make sure the rights of all children and young people in Northern Ireland are protected, and to work towards making these rights a reality in law.
The UK Government must report to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child every five years to explain how well they are protecting children’ rights in Northern Ireland. The Committee then make concluding observations and recommendations for the UK Government to implement. The Children’s Law Centre leads the Northern Ireland voluntary sector in submitting evidence to inform the examination process. The Centre’s youth panel, youth@CLC, also submits a children and young people’s report.