UK plummets from 11th to 156th in global children's rights rankings

Britain accused of employing ‘inadequate’ provision for children’s rights protection

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The Independent Online

The UK has been accused of employing “inadequate” provision for children’s rights protection after it fell dramatically in global rankings for child rights within a year, from 11th to 156th.

Serious concerns have been raised about structural discrimination in the UK, including Muslim children facing increased discrimination following recent anti-terrorism measures, and a rise in discrimination against gypsy and refugee children in recent years.

The UK now ranks among the bottom 10 global performers in the arena of improving rights of the child, after it achieved the lowest-possible score across all six available indicators in the domain of Child Rights Environment (CRE), according to the KidsRights Index 2017.

The Index, which collects data from Unicef and the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) to identify global trends in the arena of children’s rights protection, rates the extent to which a country has implemented the general principles of the CRC and to which there is a basic infrastructure for making and implementing children’s rights policies. Portugal is this year’s global frontrunner.

The Index methodology is such that extremely poor performances in one domain cannot be compensated by higher scores in other areas, as all children’s rights are deemed to be equally important.

In light of the findings, Lord Philip Hunt, shadow deputy leader of the House of Lords and shadow health spokesperson, accused the Government of “inactivity” and “inadequate service provision”, urging it to do more to protect the rights of the child.

“This report exposes the inactivity of the current UK government and inadequate service provision in this most important area of policy making; rights of the child,” Lord Hunt said.

“The UK is the sixth largest economy globally and therefore has the resources at its disposal to ensure that our children are adequately protected and cared for across multiple disciplines. Our children are our future and the barometer of our approach to social justice and the state of our society.”

Marc Dullaert, founder and chairman of the KidsRights Foundation, meanwhile urged the UK to treat non-discrimination as a policy priority, and to speed up the process of aligning its child protection laws with the Convention on the Rights of the Child at both the national and devolved levels, as well as in all crown dependencies.

“Discrimination against vulnerable groups of children and youths is severely hampering opportunities for future generations to reach their full potential,” Mr Dullaert said.

“Following the general election, the new government should demonstrate to the world that it will not allow the retreat from the EU to adversely affect the rights and opportunities of its children.” 

The Index, which assesses countries’ commitments to children’s rights relative to available resources, found that economically prosperous countries are not necessarily outperforming the rest. Poorer countries such as Thailand and Tunisia featured in the top 10, while more developed countries came far lower, with the UK and New Zealand among the bottom-ten global performers.

It concluded that industrialised nations were falling short of allocating sufficient budgets towards creating a stable environment for children’s rights, by neglecting their leadership responsibilities and failing to invest in the rights of children to the best of their abilities.

On average, countries scored higher in the domain of Enabling Legislation, which measures the legal framework provided to protect and promote children’s rights. 

While many states have adopted new children’s rights policies in recent years, the Index reveals that implementation is often lagging, and most new policies fail to fully comply with the principles and provisions of the CRC. 

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