Chief Executive of the Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People, Gerry Campbell, said “Today marks the 20th Anniversary of the signing of the United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). It is time Government lived up to the promises that it made when it signed up to the convention. Some things have improved for children and young people but 20 years on there are still serious breaches of children’s rights which urgently need to be addressed.”
Notes to Editors
UK Children’s Commissioners’ Joint Position Statement on Progress on the 2008 United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child’s Concluding Observations
20th November 2009
On the 20th anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), we the four UK Children’s Commissioners today collectively call on the UK Government to address all of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child’s Concluding Observations, published in 2008. While the UN acknowledged that much has been achieved, the Concluding Observations provide a clear indication as to the areas it considers the UK must improve upon in relation to children’s and young people’s rights.
We welcome the development and launch of the action plans across the UK and believe it is vital that these are a comprehensive set of actions that will see the UK meet the challenges set out by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child. The UK Government and devolved administrations must act upon and review these plans rather than leaving them to simply become statements of good intent. When the UK Government reports back to the UN in 2013 tangible progress must have been made and positive outcomes must be demonstrable. To that end we will scrutinise and monitor all action plans.
It is essential that both the UK Government and devolved administrations play a proactive role in promoting awareness of the UNCRC. Every child and young person across the UK must know what their rights are and how to enjoy and safeguard those, while every adult should understand their role in promoting and safeguarding those rights.
We today call on the UK Government and devolved administrations to continue to realise children’s and young people’s rights despite the current financial pressures. Children and young people are at risk of being affected disproportionately by the current recession. Children’s and young people’s rights are not a luxury to be enjoyed only during financially affluent times; they are essential throughout childhood. This is not the time to be reducing commitments to children and young people.
Inevitably, at times of lower economic activity and high unemployment there is an increased need for children’s services. It is therefore not the time to make cuts in such services. Rather, continued investment in early intervention services will lead to cost savings through the reduction in crisis intervention in future years.
In 2008, the UN Committee highlighted the need for consistent budgetary analysis of all spending on children and young people and to ensure that funding for children and young people leads to improved outcomes. We will scrutinise the progress of the UK Government and devolved administrations on this important issue.
The UN Committee identified child poverty as one of the main causes of children’s rights breaches across the UK. While we acknowledge the introduction of legislation, including the Child Poverty Bill, to tackle this issue we remain frustrated at the current lack of progress in achieving the aim of ending child poverty. Therefore we today call on the UK Government, devolved administrations and policy makers to support the aims and aspirations set out in the Bill and to ensure that they make provision for practical policies and actions to end child poverty by 2020.
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