On behalf of NYAS (National Youth Advocacy Service, I was delighted to attend a parliamentary event at the House of Lords to mark the publication of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child (UN Committee) Concluding Observations on the UK and reflect on our shared responsibility as children’s champions in driving these recommendations forward.

In June 2023, the UN Committee published its Concluding Observations following a review of the UK’s compliance with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). This included new recommendations – over 200 of them – for the UK Government to take forward to better protect, advance and uphold children’s rights. NYAS had previously provided evidence to the UN Committee through the CRAE and Children in Wales to support in England and Wales’ Civil Society submissions, ensuring that the voices of the care-experienced children, young people and adults in vulnerable situations that we work with were heard.

The event saw the Children’s Rights Alliance England (CRAE), in partnership with Baroness Lister of Burtersett CBE, UNICEF UK and the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), publish three new briefings to help parliamentarians and civil society organisations hold the UK Government to account to ensure the latest Concluding Observations on the UK are taken forward. Speakers, including Joanna Cherry KC MP, Bragi Guðbrandsson (UN Committee Member), Louise King (CRAE) and John Kirkpatrick (EHRC), spoke passionately about the journey so far and the importance of making these recommendations a reality.

Three people sitting at a table while a male stands talking at a lectern at the House of Lords

Speakers at the UNCRC Concluding Observations session included Baroness Lister, Joanna Cherry and John Kirkpatrick

At the parliamentary event, and indeed within the Concluding Recommendations themselves, I was overjoyed to see such an emphasis placed on advocacy and its innate power of amplifying the voice, feelings and wishes of the child, but note that advocacy alone is not enough to transform children’s rights in the UK. Only full and direct incorporation of the CRC into domestic law – and a shared commitment and responsibility for ensuring its success – has that transformatory ability.

Guided by Article 12 of the CRC, NYAS will not stop in our efforts to ensure that every child, young person – and adult in vulnerable situations – is able to safely and freely express their views, wishes and feelings in all matters affecting them.