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Report of the Children's commissioners of the United Kingdom of GB and NI to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child - Examination of the Combined Sixth and Seventh Periodic Reports of the UK and NI

December 2020

The UK government does not prioritise children’s rights or voices in policy or legislative processes. There is a lack, inconsistent or incorrect use of, and/or poor quality of Child Rights Impact Assessments (CRIA) in all jurisdictions. There is limited involvement of children and child rights training. CRIAs are often undertaken retrospectively, meaning any assessed negative impact cannot be addressed in advance. The quality of some CRIAs is concerning, often with no analysis of available options, no justification of selected options, no mitigation measures, and their impact on ministerial decisions is unclear.

The Welsh government must complete CRIAs on legislative changes and policy decisions under a published Children’s Rights Scheme, and state how they will achieve their duties. This has not been updated since 2014. They have recently committed to publishing all CRIAs online. The process for monitoring outcomes is unclear.

In Northern Ireland, all statutory departments and agencies are required to work with each other and other organisations to improve children’s well-being on eight measures in accordance with the UNCRC. A 2019 draft strategy is under consideration by the Executive, and a Delivery plan is underway but not published. CRIAs are not undertaken when developing government policy or legislation, except for the Looked After Children Strategy.

In England, whilst there is now a priority for children to be in school, the initial pandemic response overlooked children’s needs, re-opening hospitality and shops first. We welcome the creation of a CRIA template.

There is no clear screening for CRIAs across government and no systematic process of Child Rights Impact Evaluations (CRIE) in Scotland. However, there is provision within the UNCRC Incorporation Bill, which will require strategic use of CRIAs.  

CRIAs should be routinely undertaken and published on all legislative and policy decisions affecting children. Children should be consulted throughout. Governments should refer to the European Network of Ombudspersons for Children’s (ENOC) statement on CRIAs and common framework for their use.

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Related Resources:

1) UN Convention on the Rights of the Child - Consideration of reports submitted by States parties under article 44 of the Convention - Fifth periodic reports of States parties due in 2014 - United Kingdom

2) United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child - Concluding observations on the fifth periodic report of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland