21 Nov 2011

Mid-Term Report Measures Government Against UN Convention

COMMISSIONER for Children and Young People, Patricia Lewsley-Mooney, today (Monday) jointly launches with her Children Commissioner colleagues across the UK a report detailing how government measures up to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).

The four UK Children’s Commissioners have expressed concern at how spending cuts may impact children, in a “Mid-Term Report” published to coincide with the International Day of the Child. [Full UK press release below]

It is now three years since the Children’s Commissioners reported to the UN, and this report represents the midway point before the UN Committee reports again on the UK, including Northern Ireland.

“This report looks at how the Westminster Government and devolved administrations such as Northern  Ireland are measuring up to the recommendations of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child,” said Ms Lewsley-Mooney.

“I have been pleased to see some commitments to children in the draft programme for Government released last week. I warmly welcome the words of the Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness on the floor of the Assembly last week when he made a commitment to ‘fulfil’ the Executives obligations under the Convention. This will require concerted effort across the Executive, making children a priority and ensuring joined up working”

The Commissioner said that the issue of child poverty was one that still devastates the lives of too many children within our communities.

“All the Children’s Commissioners are concerned at the persistent levels of child poverty, especially at this time of financial hardship.”

Ms Lewsley- Mooney also commented on the need to involve children and young people in making decisions about issues that affect their lives.

“ The Mid-Term Report highlights the need for more and better participation for children and young people,” she said. “Just this week I gave evidence to the Committee for Education’s School Council Inquiry, which is a welcome advance in children’s right to have a say.

“And this week (Wednesday November 23rd) I will be unveiling the winners of my 2011 Participation Awards, which comment government departments and public bodies who involve children in effective, meaningful participation.”

"My job is to advise and challenge government to deliver more effectively for children. This is what I am doing here today, and I will continue to do so until we see real change delivered for children on the ground."

ENDS

UK NEWS RELEASE

FOUR UK CHILDREN’S COMMISSIONERS JOIN FORCES TO EXPRESS CONCERN OVER SPENDING CUTS

The four UK Children’s Commissioners will today (21 November) call for an urgent reassessment of the impact of the Coalition Government’s Spending Review on the needs of vulnerable children.

In a joint report published on International Day of the Child, the Commissioners outline serious concerns at the high levels of persistent poverty across the UK.  They highlight the need for children to be given priority in national and local budgets so that vital children’s services are protected.

The report also examines progress made in five areas - participation, children with disabilities, child poverty, children seeking asylum and juvenile justice - against the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, an internationally binding minimum standard for all children and young people that was ratified by the UK Government twenty years ago.

Speaking on behalf of the four Commissioners, Keith Towler, Children’s Commissioner for Wales, said:

“We, as independent children’s champions, have a duty to hold UK Government and its devolved administrations to account. We are in constant dialogue with our respective governments to ensure the rights, needs and best interests of every child are upheld.

“Whilst there are developments to be proud of, we continue to see some of our society’s most vulnerable being denied a childhood. At the heart of our concerns are the high levels of persistent poverty across the UK.

“We fully acknowledge the considerable challenges facing governments on all levels and that tough decisions have to be made but we are deeply concerned that without assessing the impact of the severe cuts we’ve seen at all levels of government, we’re in real danger of pushing more families into poverty.

This mid-term report comes half way through the Convention’s reporting cycle, which requires UK Government, as the State Party, to report on progress to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child every five years. The UK last reported to the Committee in 2008.

Ends

Notes to editors:

1. You can view a full copy of the four UK Children's Commissioners' report and more information including resources for children and young people here

2. You can find out more information about the UNCRC reporting process here

For more information please contact the communications team  - communications@niccy.org, 028 9031 1616 or mobile 07917 543 953