The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, known as the UNCRC, is an international treaty created to set out the rights of every child.

The UNCRC applies to everyone under the age of 18 and contains 40 specific rights.

The principles of the UNCRC are at the heart of what we do. As adults, the most important thing that we can do is uphold the charter and make sure that we support our young people to understand their rights.

Graeme Luke, Chief Executive Officer

The UNCRC in Scotland

In 2021, the MSPs in Scottish Parliament voted unanimously to become the first devolved nation in the world to directly incorporate the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child into domestic law. This means that public authorities such as schools, councils, and doctor’s surgeries will have to comply with children’s rights.

Only a small number of nations have directly incorporated the UNCRC into domestic law, and Scotland will be the first country in the UK to do so.


Why is this important to us?

As Scouts, we have a responsibility to make sure that our young people develop the skills they need to thrive in life, and part of that is supporting them to understand their rights. Incorporation of the UNCRC into domestic law in Scotland is an exciting time for young people. As volunteers, we can empower them to learn more about these rights, use them, and make sure we take a rights-based approach when delivering our programme.

Read a summary of the bill below, and use the resources at the top of the page to dive deeper.


Rights Challenge Badge

Understanding your rights is so important. That’s why we teamed up with the Children and Young People’s Commissioner Scotland to create the Right’s Challenge Badge.

The badge features a range of activities and resources to empower Squirrels to Explorers (and their Leaders) to learn about and understand their rights. It also highlights the incorporation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) into Scots law. 

Find out more about the badge


What does the bill say?

Public authorities must not act in a way that’s incompatible with the UNCRC requirements.

Courts will have powers to decide if legislation is compatible with the UNCRC requirements.

Scottish Government can change laws to make sure they are compatible with the UNCRC requirements.

The Children and Young People’s Commissioner Scotland and Scottish Human Rights Commission will have powers to take legal action to protect children's rights.

Scottish Government must publish a Children’s Rights Scheme to show how it is meeting UNCRC requirements and explain their future plans to progress children’s rights.

Scottish Government must review how the Children's Rights Scheme is working each year.

Other authorities listed in the Bill must report every three years on what they are doing to meet the UNCRC requirements.