Working with Parliament to advance children’s rights

Published: 29 February 2024

On Tuesday 6 February we co-hosted an event in the House of Lords. It highlighted the important role that Parliament plays in scrutinising the government’s record on children’s rights. We would like to thank our partners Unicef UK and the Children’s Rights Alliance for England (CRAE), and our event sponsor Baroness Lister of Burtersett, for all their work to put on the event and to improve the lives of children.

In June last year, the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) published its Concluding Observations on the UK, with around 200 recommendations for change. The Committee noted its deep concern on a number of issues, including:

  • discrimination against some groups of children
  • the deteriorating mental health of children
  • the treatment of refugees and asylum seekers

We stand ready to work with the UK and Welsh governments and others to address these issues and improve compliance with the UNCRC.

However, it is unclear what action is being taken in response to the recommendations. There is no coordinated mechanism within either government to follow up on international human rights reviews. It is therefore vital that Parliament scrutinises the government’s record on children’s rights on a regular basis, working closely with organisations who are experts in relevant fields.

Through our event, we were able to bring parliamentarians and civil society groups together to hear from a panel of expert speakers:

  • Bragi Guðbrandsson, a member of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child and former Director General of the Icelandic Government Agency for Child Protection
  • Joanna Cherry MP, Chair of the UK Parliament’s Joint Committee on Human Rights
  • Louise King, the Director of the Children’s Rights Alliance for England
  • A young person from Unicef UK’s Youth Advisory Board

Our Deputy Chief Executive, John Kirkpatrick, also spoke to highlight our unique role as a national human rights institution, the importance of engaging strategically with the UN treaty body system, and our wider work to ensure equality for children and young people under our current Strategic Plan.

We hope that by shining a spotlight on these important issues and encouraging others to use their voices to protect children’s rights, we can work together to secure a brighter future for every child in the UK.

To learn more about the UN Committee’s recommendations, and how these can be used to hold governments to account, read these three briefings.