It’s International Human Right’s Day and to mark the occasion, Together has submitted its report to inform the UN Committee’s List of Issues Prior to Reporting! Due to its (not so) catchy title, from here on in I will use the acronym – LOIPR report.
“What is a LOIPR report?” I hear you say! Well, let’s dig into the geeky bit of children’s rights…
Every country that has signed up to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child needs to report on what it’s doing to fulfil its duties under the Convention. It sends this report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child (‘the Committee’).
This process happens roughly every five years and it helps the Committee to identify the country’s progress, where improvements are needed, and any new issues relating to children’s rights.
The LOIPR report is a list of 30 priority issues raised by children, young people and organisations that are important for countries to overcome to ensure children and young people’s human rights are respected, protected and fulfilled. In doing so, children and young people can grow up in a healthy and safe environment, where their views are taken into consideration in decisions that affect them. These issues are wide ranging, varying across different countries, covering things like education, health, privacy and protection, violence, and discrimination.
Okay, now you know what a LOIPR report is, I can also hear your second question –
“How did you decide what the priority issues are for children in Scotland?”
Together held a series of online webinars and a survey. In total, we consulted with over 500 people. These events helped us to build a picture of the current state of children’s rights in Scotland. They also helped us look at children and young people’s views through the work of the Children’s Parliament, Scottish Youth Parliament and our broader membership.
Thank you to everyone who took part in this process, as it really helped to shape the LOIPR report!
“What issues does the report cover?”
The report covers a broad range of issues from education and play through to armed forces recruitment. You can read the full report here.
Some of the issues identified include:
- Children’s rights are not fully embedded into law, policy and practice.
- Efforts to engage children in decision-making are often tokenistic or missed altogether. Some children face particular challenges in having their voices heard – including disabled children and younger children.
- There are gaps and inadequate data collection which makes it difficult to design policies and services which uphold children’s rights.
- Child poverty is increasing, creating significant challenges for children’s rights. There is a significant gap in educational attainment and a widening gap in health outcomes between children from the most and least deprived areas.
- Additional safeguards are needed to protect child victims and witnesses of crime, and to protect children from abuse and harm both online and offline.
- Inappropriate use of restraint across all settings, disproportionately impacting children and young people with additional support needs.
- Inconsistent access to support services for children, young people and their families.
“What happens next?”
Today, Together’s LOIPR report has been sent to the Committee. The Committee will use this (and reports from England, Wales and Northern Ireland) to create its ‘List of Issues Prior to Reporting’. This asks the UK and devolved governments to provide information on specific topics and answer certain questions. The Committee should publish this list in February 2021.
After this, the UK will have 12 months to reply to the Committee. Organisations, groups and individuals can read the UK’s reply and send their own comments, shadow reports, recommendations and follow-up questions for the Committee to ask the UK. So in 2022, you will catch Together’s team working away researching and writing another report to make sure the Committee is able to properly scrutinise the government’s reply.
The Committee will consider the UK’s reply and all the information it gets from organisations, groups and individuals. After that, (dun dun dunnnn) it will meet with representatives from the UK and devolved governments! Okay, the dramatic music is not quite necessary, as this meeting is really just an opportunity for the Committee to discuss the key issues raised, ask questions and clarify any points with these people. This dialogue forms the basis of the ‘Concluding Observations’ which are then published.
Concluding Observations set out the Committee’s assessment of how well a country is implementing the Convention, areas of concern and recommendations. Following these Concluding Observations, states are encouraged to implement these recommendations ahead of the reporting cycle starting again.
The Committee last made Concluding Observations to the UK in 2016 and they have proved rather persuasive, as since then, Scottish Government has made progress in: incorporating the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child into Scots law, developing strategies to tackle violence and abuse against children, and creating legislative and policy measures aimed at closing the educational attainment gap.
Together hopes the LOIPR Report submitted today has the same persuasive effect to further children’s rights in Scotland!
P.s. Here’s a rather fancy diagram the Committee made to help understand the whole reporting process!
By Naomi Sutton, Policy and Communications Assistant at Together (Scottish Alliance for Children’s Rights)