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UN Convention on the Rights of the Child

The rights of young people are at the heart of everything we do at Venture Trust. We believe that every child and young person deserves to live a happy, healthy life and to fulfil their potential. To help achieve this, we work within a child and young person’s rights-based framework which is built upon the articles defined in the UNCRC.

What is the UNCRC?

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) is the world’s most complete statement of children and young people’s rights ever produced and is the most widely-ratified international human rights treaty in history. The convention describes the necessary conditions for a safe, happy and fulfilled childhood for every child and young person up to the age of 18.

All children and young people have the same human rights as adults but the UNCRC affirms and articulates the significance of these rights for children and young people. Children and young people’s rights cover every aspect of their lives, and exist wherever the child or young person is: at home, at school, in any institution, and in the community.

The UNCRC includes four general principles that are not only rights in themselves but underpin every other right in the Convention:

- For rights to be applied without discrimination (Article 2)
- For the best interests of the child to be a primary consideration (Article 3)
- The right to life, survival and development (Article 6)
- The right to express a view and have that view taken into account (Article 12)

The UNCRC also provides children with a series of individual rights, such as the:
- Right to a name and a nationality
- Right to education
- Right to health
- Right to play and recreation
- Right to an adequate standard of living

There are also additional rights for specific groups of children, such as:

- Disabled children
- Children in custody
- Children in care
- Children who have been exploited or mistreated
- Refugee or migrant children

The UK Government ratified the Convention in 1990 and it came into law in 1992. Following ratification Governments are expected to do all they can to implement the UNCRC – to make sure all law, policy and decisions which impact on children from birth to 18 comply with their human rights.

What does this mean for children and young people in Scotland?

The Scottish Government wants Scotland to be the best place in the world for a child to grow up, and as a result they have taken the following key steps to help ensure all children and young people can enjoy their rights:

The Scottish Government created the Children and Young People’s Commissioner Scotland (CYPCS) in 2004 with the purpose of promoting and safeguarding the rights of children and young people in Scotland. Where a child’s rights have been protected, respected and fulfilled, their wellbeing should improve.

Getting It Right for Every Child (GIRFEC) is Scotland’s national approach to improving the wellbeing of children and young people, and was built upon the UNCRC. At both a local and national level, the GIRFEC approach:

- Puts the best interests of the child at the heart of decision-making
- Takes a holistic approach to the wellbeing of a child
- Works with children, young people and their families on ways to improve wellbeing
- Advocates preventative work and early intervention to support children, young people and their families
- Believes professionals must work together in the best interests of the child

The Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 embeds UNCRC rights and places key elements of GIRFEC into Scottish law. The Act ensures children and young people are at the heart of planning and service delivery and that their rights are respected across the public sector.

For more information on the UNCRC please visit:

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