2019 is a significant year for the rights of children and young people as it marks 30 years of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). Nearly every country across the world has committed to making sure that every child experiences their rights and to monitoring the effectiveness of these endeavours which is at the core of the work of the four UK’s Children’s Commissioners.
In 2016 the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child examined the UK Government’s progress on implementing the UNCRC, making a range of recommendations. Monitoring the implementation of these recommendations, the Commissioners have assessed how well the UK Government and devolved administrations have progressed.
The assessment is set against a backdrop of political uncertainty across the UK. It is now three years since the UK voted to leave the EU and ‘Brexit’ has drawn political energy and attention away from domestic issues, including the needs of children.
For Northern Ireland this is compounded further by the lack of a Government. It has now been more than 1000 days since we have had an Assembly and Executive in place, making the vital decisions necessary to improve outcomes for children and young people here.
Reflecting on this NI Commissioner, Koulla Yiasouma said: “There are a wide range of underlying and often systemic issues affecting children and young people right across these islands. However, while very welcome progress is being made on issues such as physical punishment in other jurisdictions, we in Northern Ireland, are falling further behind.
“We have the longest health waiting times for children anywhere in the UK – this is simply not acceptable!
“The review identifies other priority areas where action and progress is needed here. From incorporation of the UNCRC into domestic law, SEN and mental health funding, to tackling poverty, homelessness and educational inequality, there is much still to be done to ensure our children and young people fully realise their rights.
Two years ago we published a ‘Statement on Children’s Rights in Northern Ireland’, and our Monitoring Table on NI Departments’ progress against the UN Committee’s Concluding Observations. In the spring of 2020 we will publish these ’progress updates’ again.
“Now more than ever, it is crucial to monitor and review the effectiveness of Government and its statutory agencies in delivering for children and young people. NICCY will continue to give focus to this going forward.”
Notes to Editors