Updates, commentary, training and advice on immigration and asylum law

UK to sign up to UN Convention on the Rights of the Child


Older content is locked

A great deal of time and effort goes into producing the information on Free Movement, become a member of Free Movement to get unlimited access to all articles, and much, much more


By becoming a member of Free Movement, you not only support the hard-work that goes into maintaining the website, but get access to premium features;

  • Single login for personal use
  • FREE downloads of Free Movement ebooks
  • Access to all Free Movement blog content
  • Access to all our online training materials
  • Access to our busy forums
  • Downloadable CPD certificates

The BBC is reporting that the government will announce we are finally going to sign up properly next week to the 1989 UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. At the moment the UK has a controversial opt-out of one of the key parts of the Convention, Article 3, which requires signatories to safeguard the best interests of children. Our opt-out is for immigrant children – explicitly, the UK has considered immigration control to be more important than the best interests of children.

The opt out is such a major one that arguably in international law the UK can’t really be considered to have signed up to the Convention – or, rather, that the opt-out was unlaw in international law.

All that looks like it will shortly become history, though, which is very good news indeed. This is likely to have an important effect in detention cases, which Mark Easton talks about, but could also have important ramifications elsewhere. For example, the anti-discrimination clauses could be useful in other areas of immigration law and policy, and in future the strict obervance of immigration rules or policies without giving primary consideration to the best interests of a child will arguably be unlawful.

Relevant articles chosen for you
Picture of Free Movement

Free Movement

The Free Movement blog was founded in 2007 by Colin Yeo, a barrister at Garden Court Chambers specialising in immigration law. The blog provides updates and commentary on immigration and asylum law by a variety of authors.


3 Responses

  1. This is good news. The New Statesman has been running a campaign for a few weeks now entitled “No Place for Children” – http://www.newstatesman.com/subjects/no-place-for-children

    I can’t help wondering if this has added to the pressure for the UK to fall into line on this issue. What made me snigger today, however, was the way in which the miniscule article in the Metro did not even bother to name the Counsel of Europe and referred to it as a “watchdog”.

  2. Looking at the comments made in response to that news article, it doesn’t seem to have gone down particularly well with the public (not that the public contributors of BBC blogs carry any weight or are in anyway representative of the country). None of the arguments I have read that are against the decision appear particularly convincing or rational though.

    What is more interesting is how UN CRC relates to the issue of Article 8 and proportionality.
    It seems more directly to me that any executive decision involving a child that does not put the child’s interests first is in direct contradiction of the obligations of the convention. These kind of decisions happen routinely within the UK Border Agency.

    It will also widen the scope for people to apply for Judicial Review on the basis that a decision taken by the executive did not comply with UN CRC.

    It is a victory for these children nevertheless, to be treated as children and not simply obstacles to effective immigration control.

    One question though:

    How will the UK Border Agency apply UN CRC to its decision making?

  3. I hadn’t posted a link to the New Statesman articles but they are excellent, and I also wonder if there is a link. A number of charities and the Refugee Children’s Consortium, an umbrella group, have been lobbying for this for ages, so something must have changed.

    I also saw the comments at the end of the BBC blog article – deeply worrying stuff. I try to console myself with the thought that the Silent Majority may not be so extreme and that if the issue was presented to the public in a given way then reactions would not be so hostile.