Following on from last week’s episode of the HJ Talks About Abuse podcast, Alan Collins and Mike Dunn discuss the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and whether in reality, it means anything, especially within the context of the States of Jersey?
To quote from the UK Parliament’s Human Rights Joint Committee report of 2015:
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) is the most universally accepted of all UN human rights instruments and the most comprehensive in its promotion of children’s rights—civil, political, economic, social and cultural—informing other human rights standards through a framework of state responsibilities applicable to all children within signatory states’ jurisdictions.
Yet the joint committee notes that the Convention is not incorporated into UK law:
Moreover, while the Convention has not been incorporated into UK law and is therefore not directly justiciable in UK courts—that is to say, an individual cannot go to a UK court to complain about a breach of any of the rights in the Convention—the conclusions and recommendations of the UN Committee, while strictly speaking not legally binding, do provide an authoritative interpretation of the individual treaty obligations which are themselves legally binding on the UK.
The Committee had previously recommended that the Convention be incorporated into law, having also noted the inadequacies that presented due to this failure. Sweden by contrast has incorporated the Convention and has recognised that doing this has been an aid to empowering children and young people.
Alan argues that the Convention be incorporated into UK law. It should be so incorporated to give backbone to the necessary measures that are needed to ensure that child protection is adequate for the 21st Century; that those invested with responsibility for child protection, be they individuals or bodies, are in effect answerable to both children and society more broadly, and as such must always be held accountable for failures to protect or for inaction. The way this accountability is expressed or defined, and subsequently enacted, should therefore never amount to tokenism.