Status of the UNCRC in Jersey
In June 2014, Jersey became a State Party to the UNCRC, when we asked for the UK's ratification of the Convention to be extended to the Island.
As a result of this extension, Jersey is bound by the UNCRC under international law and is subject to the monitoring and reporting processes of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child (the UN Committee).
Under Article 4 of the UNCRC, State Parties are expected to, “undertake all appropriate legislative, administrative, and other measures for the implementation of the rights recognized in the present Convention.”
The UN Committee, has published guidance about ways in which State Parties can implement the UNCRC in its fifth General Comment. The Committee notes that incorporation of the Convention into a State Party's domestic law, "is the traditional approach to the implementation of international human rights instruments.”
General Comment No. 5: General measures of implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child
New duties to consider children's rights
Ministers have committed to bring forward a new law to indirectly incorporate the UNCRC. This law is now being drafted following the public consultation held between November 2019 and February 2020.
This commitment forms part of the Government’s priority to ‘put children first’ as set out in the Common Strategic Policy 2018-22 and the Government Plan 2020-23, which states:
“We will bring forward primary legislation for indirect incorporation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which will establish a requirement for the Government to consider and safeguard children’s rights in relation to policy, legislation and practice.”
Common Strategic Policy 2018-22
Government Plan 2020-23
Jersey’s indirect incorporation of the UNCRC will introduce a requirement for groups of ‘duty-bearers’ to consider children’s rights when they develop policies, laws and practices which impact children and young people.
The aim of indirect incorporation is to develop cultural acceptance of children’s rights by ensuring they are considered from the start of the policy development process. This will be supported by the introduction of Children’s Rights Impact Assessments (CRIAs).
CRIAs will help Ministers and the States Assembly to identify how a new law or policy is expected to affect children. Any predicted negative impacts can then be minimised, and any positive impacts maximised.
Decision to make children's rights enforceable
Direct incorporation of the UNCRC would mean that children’s rights would become legally enforceable through Jersey’s courts.
An example of direct legal incorporation is the incorporation of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) into Jersey law by the Human Rights (Jersey) Law 2000.
In 2019, the Council of Ministers deferred a decision about whether to directly incorporate the UNCRC into Jersey law but committed to revisit this before the end of the current Assembly’s term.
To support consideration of this matter, a Legislative Gap Analysis (LGA) was undertaken by Swansea University’s Observatory on Human Rights of Children, at the request of Jersey’s Children’s Commissioner.
The LGA was published in October 2020 and provides a comprehensive, independent analysis of the extent to which Jersey’s current legislation complies with the UNCRC.
Requirement to consult the Children’s Commissioner
Under Article 25 of the Commissioner for Children and Young People (Jersey) Law 2019, Jersey’s Ministers, “must consult the Commissioner upon any proposals for the preparation of any enactment directly concerning children or young people.”
The requirement to consult will mean that the Office of the Children’s Commissioner, as the Island’s only Independent Human Rights Institution, can provide expert rights-based advice during the development of all new laws directly affecting children and young people, to support the realisation of children’s rights.