Scotland will incorporate the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) into law to the maximum extent possible within the powers of the Scottish Parliament, Deputy First Minister John Swinney has announced.

A bill to be laid before the Parliament next year will also allow for incorporation of the provisions of the Convention currently beyond the powers of the Scottish Parliament, should these powers change in the future. The Government's decision follows an extensive public consultation.

Mr Swinney's announcement came on the 30th anniversary of the Convention, which sets out the rights of every child under the age of 18, irrespective of where they live, their religion or the makeup of their society. It includes rights relating to:

  • life, survival and development;
  • protection from violence, abuse or neglect;
  • an education that enables children to fulfil their potential;
  • be raised by, or have a relationship with, their parents;
  • express their opinions and be listened to;
  • fair and equal treatment.

The Deputy First Minister commented: "Through the responses to our consultation, it is clear there is widespread support for directly and fully incorporating all of the rights set out in the Convention.

"Our bill will take a maximalist approach. We will incorporate the rights set out UNCRC in full and directly in every case possible – using the language of the Convention. Our only limitation will be the limit of the powers of this Parliament."

Sections beyond the powers of the Parliament include those dealing with military recruitment.

Mr Swinney added: "Every devolved body, every health board, every council and the Scottish Government itself will be legally obliged to make sure they respect children’s rights. And, if they don’t, children and young people will be able to use the courts to enforce their rights. I hope the example of Scotland incorporating the Convention will spur the UK and other countries to follow suit."