The bill to incorporate the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) directly into domestic Scots law has been introduced to the Scottish Parliament.
Under the UNCRC (Incorporation) (Scotland) Bill it will be unlawful for public authorities to act incompatibly with the incorporated UNCRC requirements, giving children, young people and their representatives the power to go to court to enforce their rights.
The UNCRC sets out the specific rights that all children have to help fulfil their potential, including rights relating to health and education, leisure and play, fair and equal treatment, protection from exploitation and the right to be heard.
In addition to imposing compliance duties, the bill gives power to the Children’s Commissioner to take legal action in relation to children’s rights. Ministers will have to produce a Children’s Rights Scheme setting out how they comply with children’s rights, and report annually; and listed public authorities will have to report every three years on how they comply with children’s rights.
The Bill also allows for incorporation of the articles of the UNCRC currently beyond the powers of the Scottish Parliament, should these powers change in the future.
Deputy First Minister John Swinney commented: "This bill will revolutionise the way we listen to children and take their rights into account.
"By directly incorporating the UNCRC into Scots law, and to the maximum extent possible under the current powers of the Parliament, we will build children’s rights into the fabric of decision making in Scotland."
He concluded: "This bill is a significant step towards a future based on tolerance, equality, shared values and respect for the worth and human dignity of all people."