Swansea University - News Archive

News & Events Archive for 2010-2011

Items are listed in chronological order by publication date.

    Swansea researchers contribute to new law on children’s rights

    Researchers from the School of Law at Swansea University are celebrating following their contribution to a new law on the human rights of children and young people.

    The proposed ‘Rights of Children and Young Persons (Wales) Measure’, which was passed by the National Assembly for Wales in January 2011, puts Wales ahead of the rest of the UK in using legislation to implement the 1989 United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). The Measure is due to be submitted for Royal Approval in March 2011.

    If approved, the new law will be phased in between 2012 and 2014 and will place the rights and obligations in the UNCRC at the heart of decision making by Welsh Ministers.

    The UNCRC is an international human rights treaty declaring a range of social, economic and cultural as well as civil and political rights for children.

    The UK is the State party, but many areas critical to implementation, such as health and social care, education, environment and transport, are devolved in Wales.

    While human rights protection attracts continuing political debate at UK level, in Wales there has been consistent cross-party commitment to the human rights of children as expressed in the UNCRC.

    Former First Minister, Rhodri Morgan, announced his intention to look at embedding the UNCRC in law for children and young people in Wales in July 2009. Working with the Wales Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs) Monitoring Group for the Rights of the Child, School of Law researchers were able to suggest a formula for realising this ambition within the complex parameters of UK and international law. 

    The new legal duty on Welsh Ministers to have due regard to the UNCRC is comparable in effect to the public sector equality duties under the Equality Act 2010, but extends far wider, across the full suite of rights and obligations in the UNCRC.

    It means that much greater attention must routinely be paid to the impact government decisions may have on the lives and well-being of children in Wales.

    It builds in a scheme (‘’the children’s scheme’’) which requires Ministers to involve the Children’s Commissioner for Wales and children and young people themselves when setting up systems to ensure the duty is complied with. Ministers will also have to get the National Assembly for Wales to approve their systems, and will have to report to the Assembly on what they do to comply with the duty.


    The research team, which comprises Jane Williams and Dr Simon Hoffman (pictured above), lecturers within Swansea University’s School of Law, also provided evidence to the National Assembly for Wales as members of the Wales NGO Monitoring Group and as leaders of an expert group of Welsh lawyers invited to assist the legislative scrutiny committee.

    A series of workshops at the School of Law were held during 2010 to analyse options, formulate advice and inform evidence given in the legislative process. These meetings were attended by academics, legal practitioners, international and UK-based non-governmental organisations, Assembly Members and civil servants.

    Speaking in the final plenary debates in the National Assembly for Wales, Andrew Davies, AM for Swansea West, who was a member of the Assembly’s Legislation Committee 5 which scrutinised the proposed Measure, paid tribute to the high quality effectiveness of these contributions in helping to secure a historic legislative achievement.

    In a message to Professor Richard B. Davies, Swansea University Vice-Chancellor, Andrew Davies commented on "the exemplary research-driven evidence provided to the Committee on two occasions by groups led by academics from the School of Law at Swansea University."

    Andrew Davies added that the evidence "made direct and fundamental differences to the Measure which was adopted by the National Assembly. The quality of that evidence, and its foundation in empirical and comparative research, assisted our scrutiny as legislators and helped change the mind of government in important respects. They have certainly set a high standard. Without their intervention, I am sure that the proposed Rights of the Child Measure would have been considerably weaker."

    Professor Noel Thompson, Pro-Vice Chancellor Research at Swansea University and Acting Head of the School of Law said: “It is enormously satisfying to see that research carried out within the School of Law is having a real impact on the creation of such an important new law for Wales. This is already attracting interest amongst academics and human rights activists abroad and we look forward to our research team comparing experiences and research findings with other organisations looking to introduce new laws on children’s rights.”

    Jane Williams added: "While the proposed Measure went through its final stages within the National Assembly for Wales, Dr Hoffman met with children’s rights experts in Catalunya, where a new law on children’s rights has been introduced. Experts from organisations representing children, and from the Catalan government, were keen to compare experiences and learn about the way the UNCRC will be integrated in the law on government decision-making in Wales.”

    She concluded: "It is important that the implementation of international human rights obligations take account of devolved government in the UK. Similarly, it is important for us as researchers located in Wales to continue collaborations on international and comparative research as well as continuing to support the work on implementation in Wales and the UK."


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