Liberal Democrats pledge new children’s rights

News|April 20th 2015

The Liberal Democrats have pledged to bring the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) into UK law.

Originally signed in 1989, the Convention is an international treaty specifying a range of fundamental political, economic and social rights for young people. It includes a right to privacy and a right not be imprisoned, except as a last resort.

The Liberal Democrats are the only party to have made such a pledge, Children & Young People Now reports.

The move was welcomed by charity the Children’s Rights Alliance for England (CRAE). co-directors Carla Garnelas and Louise King said: “Crae has been calling for incorporation of the UNCRC into domestic law for many years.”

The Convention would ensure that future governments meet “minimum standards” when making “tough decisions” that affect the lives of children, they claimed – on, for example immigration, criminal justice or child poverty.

Garnelas and King added:

“Enshrining the UNCRC in UK law will also increase access to justice for children where their rights are breached – giving them a means of redress.”

Photo by Bill Gracey via Flickr

Author: Stowe Family Law

Comments(3)

  1. Dr. Nigel Miles says:

    Maybe so but have coped put on parity of responsible parenting. Only the Greens have and will do this automatically when part of a coalition from 8th May.

    It is quite iniquitous that signing and ratifying a UN Convention makes it automatic in English and Welsh legislation. But what so you expect that the philosophy of thought and hence action of such enaction reminds one of that staid attitudes which still exist and actioned at …say times of law in the current Poldark TV drama. The sooner we grow up the sooner we can leave the current dinosaural justice system in the anachronistic cupboard where it belongs. Children need to be protected by the empiricity of fact, compassion and wisdom and not the relics of Judge Jeffries. .

  2. Yuri says:

    The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child explicitly states the importance of having both parents in a child’s life and in the recent UK family law conversation much has been made of the Australian family law approach.

    It is significant that the Australian legislation is prefaced by a statement of general principles drawn in substances from the UN Convention on the Rights of The Child, declaring, the child’s right to know, to be cared for by and to have contact with both parents, and the parents’ obligations to share responsibilities over their children.

    Parenting responsibility is defined as covering all the duties, powers, responsibilities and authority which by law parents have in relation to their children. Unlike its English parallel there is no reference to parental rights. Under the definition parents have powers and authority to carry out their duties and responsibilities. This contrasts with the United Nations Conventions on the Rights of The Child that speaks of the rights and duties of parents and guardians.

    Australia signed the convention on 22 August 1990 and ratified it on 17 December 1990. The Convention entered into force on 16 December 1991. The Convention creates binding obligations in international law but is not automatically part of Australian domestic law.

    It is noteworthy that the first four principles in the below list are included in the objects clause of the Australian legislation that deals with children.

    The convention recognises a number of rights and protection for children including:

    • Children have a right to know and be cared for by both parents, regardless of whether the parents are married, separated, have never married or have never lived together (article 7.1);

    • Children have a right of contact, on a regular basis, with both their parents and with other people significant to their care, welfare and development, except if this is contrary to the child’s best interests (article 9.3).

    (i.e. the state should only fail to support the maintenance of a child’s personal relations and direct contact with a parent on a regular basis if it is demonstrably contrary to a child’s best interest);

    • Parents share duties and responsibilities concerning the care, welfare and development of their children (article 18.1)

    • Parents should agree about the future parenting of their children

    • Children have a right to protection against abuse, mental violence or neglect (article 19.1) (Some commentators argue that this article referring to mental violence could be considered to apply to emotional abuse in the form of parental alienation);

    • Children have a right to be heard in matters that concern them (article 12.2);

    Other articles are also relevant. To take some clear examples:

    Article 5

    State parties shall respect the responsibilities, rights and duties of parents…to provide…appropriate direction and guidance;

    Article 9.1

    State parties shall ensure that a child shall not be separated from his or her parents against their will, except when competent authorities subject to judicial review determine, in accordance with applicable law and procedures, that such separation is necessary (this could possibly be interpreted to mean that interim sole residence arrangements are questionable, and that alternatives to joint residence should only be considered when they can be shown to be superior according to a best interests of the child criterion);

    Article 14.2

    State parties shall respect the rights and duties of parents and, if applicable, legal guardians, to provide direction to the child in the exercise of his or her right in a manner consistent with the evolving capacities of the child (in practice the rights of guardianship, are exercised by the parent who is the residence provider);

    Article 18.2

    For the purpose of guaranteeing and promoting the rights set out in the present Convention, State parties shall render appropriate assistance to parents and legal guardians in the performance of their child-rearing responsibilities and shall ensure the development of institutions, facilities and services for the care of the child (this article requires the state to develop appropriate institutions, which would include the Family Court)

    There are other internationally specified rights which merit consideration. These include:

    Article 16.1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights provides that men and women of full age have the right to marry and found a family; and relevantly they are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution;

    Article 16.3 provides that the family is the natural and fundamental unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the state.

  3. Liberal Democrats pledge new children’s rights – Marilyn Stowe Blog | meggiemom342 says:

    […] Liberal Democrats pledge new children’s rights – Marilyn Stowe Blog. […]

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