Wales takes ‘huge step’ towards embedding child rights

Wales has moved a step further in its attempt to enshrine the rights of children and young people into law, after deputy children’s minister Huw Lewis presented a measure to the Welsh Assembly this week.

The proposed Rights of Children and Young People Measure will require Welsh ministers to give proper consideration to the rights of children, as set out in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), when making any strategic decisions.

It will not impose a duty on other people or organisations, for example, NHS bodies or local authorities.

Addressing the Assembly, Lewis said: “The overall purpose of the measure is to embed our rights-based approach to policy-making and strengthen and maintain momentum towards full realisation of children’s and young people’s rights in general.

“The main duty within the proposed measure is placed on Assembly government ministers. It requires them to have due regard to the substantive rights and obligations within the UNCRC and its optional protocols when they are making strategic decisions about how to exercise functions which they exercise.”

Before the measure can become law it will be scrutinised by the legislation committee, which will report back on 22 October this year. Following this, it will be presented for debate in the Welsh Assembly.

Anita Tiessen, deputy executive director for Unicef UK, said: “This is a far-reaching commitment and would place Wales in the leading group of countries when it comes to the incorporation of the UNCRC and will set an example to others, including here in the UK.

“On behalf of Unicef UK, I congratulate the Welsh Assembly Government on taking this huge step forward towards embedding child rights.”