20 November 2023
Ahead of a visit to Belfast, Mr Bragi Guðbrandsson, Vice Chair of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, has said children in Northern Ireland are facing crisis. Mr Guðbrandsson served as the UN Committee’s taskforce coordinator during the recent examination of the UK.
During his visit, Mr Guðbrandsson will meet children and young people, child rights experts and senior government officials, before delivering the Children’s Law Centre Annual Lecture 2023.
Speaking ahead of his visit, Mr Guðbrandsson said: “The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child completed extensive research over the past number of years to understand the challenges faced by children in Northern Ireland. While there has no doubt been progress in some areas, we have regrettably concluded that a vast number of children are being let down because of the continued failure to implement key measures and protections as laid out in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
“Decades of delay in implementing international best practice standards to protect and support children and young people has left them facing a huge number of challenges. In recent years, this has been made dramatically worse by the lack of local decision making and the recent Northern Ireland budget.
“Children and young people are facing crisis.”
Fergal McFerran, Policy and Public Affairs Manager at the Children’s Law Centre, said: “We are pleased to host Mr Guðbrandsson for World Children’s Day and to deliver our 2023 Annual Lecture. We are particularly pleased he will be meeting with the children and young people who presented evidence to the UN Committee in Geneva. As UN Committee’s taskforce coordinator for the UK’s recent examination he is well placed to advise on what needs to be done urgently in Northern Ireland to ensure we comply with our obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
“The message during Mr Guðbrandsson’s visit is crystal clear, our children are facing crisis. We need to see immediate action to start tackling the challenges and undoing the harm that is being caused. That work must start by addressing the immediate damage being done by budget cuts, then tackling the backlog of unaddressed issues over the past decade.”
Mr Guðbrandsson’s visit forms part of the Children’s Law Centre’s work to ensure decision makers in Northern Ireland implement the recommendations laid out by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child. He will be engaged in a series of meetings with senior officials, key decision makers and duty bearers on Monday 20th and Tuesday 21st November. He will then deliver the Children’s Law Centre’s Annual Lecture 2023 at the Royal Courts of Justice in Belfast.