I know that some of my commenters have been interested in this in the past, and in particular the curious half-way house that the UK finds itself in with the UN Convention. We recognise it in our law, but don’t consider ourselves to be bound by it. The Government has agreed to take it into account when formulating policy but there isn’t a cause of action that a person can take to Court to say “I think X has acted in breach of the UN Convention”
That came into very sharp focus in the Supreme Court’s decision as to whether the Government’s policy on a cap on welfare benefits was discriminatory and in contravention of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child – since children of parents who were (a) on benefits and (b) had large families were going to find themselves poorer through no fault of their own. Had the UN Convention been a formal part of English law, what was a knife-edge decision that the policy wasn’t discriminatory might easily have gone the other way.
[When I say knife-edge, I’m not kidding. It was 2-2, and the Judge who made the fifth judgment had gone the other way in his original decision, but changed his opinion when he saw the other draft judgments. It honestly could not have been closer]
See the excellent summary in UK Human Rights blog, which I couldn’t hope to match.
And the other newsworthy item on the UN Convention is the Parliamentary report on the UK’s compliance with the UN Convention here :-
summarised very well by the people at Jordan’s Family Law here
The Report also points to areas, such as immigration, legal aid and children in custody, where some policy developments have actually worked against the best interests of children, despite the Government’s specific commitment to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) made in December 2010.
The Committee expresses its disappointment that, during the current period of austerity, children – particularly disadvantaged children – have in certain areas suffered disproportionately, and concludes that the Government’s statutory duty to eliminate child poverty by 2020 should be treated as a human rights issue.
The Committee also states that the Government should move to ratify the Optional Protocol to the UNCRC which would allow children in the UK the right to individual petition to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child in the same way that applies under the UN Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.