Children’s Human Rights CPD Day Five: ‘We Make the Road by Walking’
Author: Andrea Khalfaoui Larrañaga, Postdoctoral Fellow with MHSES at the University of Edinburgh
Day 5 – March 11 2022
For those committed to children’s rights, the Friday course session was eagerly anticipated. From the very beginning of today’s session until its end, there was a chance to apply the international learnings to the promise of implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) in Scotland. Indeed, the Auditorium at the University of Strathclyde, and the online participants from around the world, allowed for exchanges of evidence, experiences, and challenges that weave together the international and the local spheres, resulting in the exciting path that Scotland is currently building to reach the full incorporation of the UNCRC.
The vibrant Professor Ann Skelton brilliantly framed the discussion by discussing different models and methods of implementation during the morning’s session. Analysing the experiences of countries such as Ireland and South Africa, Professor Skelton highlighted the key role that capacity building and rights awareness play in an effective incorporation. In this regard, factors like nurturing a “rights culture” are known to make a difference. As one of the members of the Children’s Parliament stated in the video (see here), rights are given to you because you exist. This powerful statement necessitates the creation of fruitful and respectful spaces for children to discuss their rights. Perhaps the sole fact that Scotland has an organisation such as the Children’s Parliament makes us aware that our starting point is not zero. This is precisely what Gina Wilson (Head of Strategy of Children and Young People’s Commissioner Scotland (CYPCS) shared with us: the long but ultimate positive journey we are going on to reach full incorporation of the UNCRC.
Professor Skelton pointed out that Scotland is the first country undertaking full incorporation of CRC through domestic law. How amazing is that? Combined with the high aspirations of all the committed professionals, we cannot forget that Scotland is entering into a very important moment.
The afternoon panel opened a wonderful opportunity to engage in conversations that spanned from the accomplishments so far, to the toughness of the challenges that remain unanswered. One of these challenges is monitoring UNCRC incorporation and the identification of useful indicators to assess its impact on children’s and their communities’ lives. Although this is definitely an ongoing conversation, Professor Skelton reminded us that if something does not exist at a certain point, the human being has a tremendous capacity for bridging together different fields of knowledge to create a great solution. Thus, it is essential to open spaces for interdisciplinary contributions to work together, to ensure a brighter future for all children, as Elaine Webster (Director of the Centre for the Study of Human Rights Law at the University of Strathclyde) highlighted. Juliet Harris (Director of Together) further added that this required particular attention to those children whose rights are most at risk, which may not be currently captured by our equalities indicators.
Michael Chalmers (Director of Children and Families Directorate of the Scottish Government) highlighted the children’s role is at the heart of successful CRC incorporation. Ben Farrugia (Director of Social Work Scotland) stated that the human rights approach is at the core of professions like social work.
The winter is coming to an end and edging way for spring in Scotland, and with the blossoming flowers we will be staring at, Professor Skelton reminded us that this is a precious memento to see the incorporation of CRC “blossoming” also in Scotland. Precisely because the sunny days are scarce here, let’s make the most of this wonderful opportunity we have, to create a safe space for future generations to grow up and… bloom!
The Special Children’s Human Rights CPD course has been organized by the Institute for Inspiring Children’s Futures, in partnership with Together (Scottish Alliance for Children’s Rights), the Children and Young People’s Commissioner Scotland, the Observatory of Children’s Human Rights Scotland, and the Centre for the Study of Human Rights Law at the University of Strathclyde
Photo by Jamie Street on Unsplash