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Scottish Government to incorporate the principles of UN Children’s Rights Convention into Scots law

Photo: Marlusz Klunznlak

The Scottish Government has announced that it will strengthen the provision of children’s rights in the country by incorporating the principles of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) into Scottish law. This is a move that Humanists UK’s sister organisation Humanist Society Scotland has long campaigned for and has welcomed. Humanists UK, which campaigns for the incorporation of the UNCRC across the rest of the UK and crown dependencies, also welcomes this decision, which will strengthen the case for full incorporation in the rest of these isles.

It is hoped that the incorporation of the UNCRC into Scottish law will result in all state schools in Scotland having to end the practice of compulsory acts of collective Christian worship, known as religious observance. Currently pupils in Scotland do not have the right to withdraw themselves from religious observance. The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, which oversees the implementation of the UNCRC, stated in 2016 that this practice was not in keeping with Convention rights, as it denies children the opportunity to exercise their right to freedom of religion, thought, and conscience.  

Currently in England, the Children’s Commissioner is legally obliged to ‘monitor the implementation in England of the [UNCRC]’ and in Wales and Northern Ireland, ministers and the Commissioner for Children and Young people respectively have a legal duty to pay due regard to specified rights under the UNCRC and its optional protocols. But in both countries this falls short of full incorporation.

Humanists UK’s Director of Public Affairs and Policy Richy Thompson commented, ‘We are pleased that the Scottish Government is leading the way on children’s rights by incorporating the UNCRC into law. This is a policy that Humanist Society Scotland, has been calling for for a number of years through its campaign My Beliefs, My Choice. We urge the other governments in the UK and crown dependencies to take notice and make similar moves.’


For further comment or information, please contact Humanists UK Director of Public Affairs and Policy Richy Thompson on 07815 589636 or at

Read more about our campaign work on strengthening human rights and equality:

Read more about the incorporation of the UNCRC:

Read more about Humanist Society Scotland’s My Beliefs, My choice campaign:

At Humanists UK, we advance free thinking and promote humanism to create a tolerant society where rational thinking and kindness prevail. Our work brings non-religious people together to develop their own views, helping people be happier and more fulfilled in the one life we have. Through our ceremonies, education services, and community and campaigning work, we strive to create a fair and equal society for all.

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