Last year, Children’s Parliament celebrated its 21st birthday. Our National Sitting marked the start of a journey – a journey to making Scotland a country where human rights are understood, lived and respected so that children grow up happy, healthy, safe and loved.
This year, the journey continues. The 2018 National Sitting was all about supporting children to become Human Rights Defenders.
By bringing together 47 Members of Children’s Parliament (MCPs), 11 Youth Ambassadors and 55 Unfearties, including special guests Maree Todd MSP (Minister for Children and Young People) and Mikiko Otani (Member of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child) together to participate in a series of creative activities to explore why it is important for children to be able to be Human Rights Defenders and what Unfearties can do to stand up for children’s rights and empower and protect children who are defending their rights. Sharing their experiences so far with Children’s Parliament, the MCPs exhibited artworks that they created to explore themes from the environment to gender equality, education to community life and play. Unfearties, in turn, were invited to reflected upon their role as defenders of children’s human rights and asked how they plan to support children to become Human Rights Defenders in Scotland.
Our National Sitting also provided us with a platform to reflect and build upon global discussions about the role of children as Human Rights Defenders. Children all over the world are advocating for the realisation of their rights, their peers’ rights and the human rights of all, by acting as Human Rights Defenders at local, regional and international levels. 2018 is both the 20th Anniversary of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders and the 70th Anniversary of the UN Declaration of Human Rights. Furthermore, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child chose ‘Children as Human Rights Defenders’ as the theme for its Day of General Discussion (DGD) in September 2018.
Scotland has made significant advances in enhancing rights protections for children across legislation, policy and practice and is looked upon as a leader by other countries. Recently, the Scottish Government has committed to incorporating the principles of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child into domestic law. This is a significant step in the right direction towards Scotland becoming a nation where all children grow up happy, healthy, safe and loved. The MCPs work as Human Rights Defenders is of critical importance as it will help shape the discussions around what incorporation looks like in reality for children across Scotland.
Together, how can children and Unfearties make Scotland a nation with human rights at its heart?
Children’s Voices Manager at Children’s Parliament