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Statement on Children's Rights in Northern Ireland

This ‘Statement on Children’s Rights in Northern Ireland’ (SOCRNI) is NICCY’s first such publication and is informed by current contexts, the UN Committee’s Concluding Observations following their 5th periodic examination of the UK State Party, and NICCY’s work with stakeholders on key priorities.

Each rights themed area of this Statement is prefaced with the relevant UNCRC Articles, the UN Committee’s Concluding Observations, followed by the current context in respect of children’s rights followed by NICCY’s Calls to Government. On reading through, it will become clear that there is much to be done to address and indeed redress, issues in education, mental health, poverty, youth justice, safeguarding, age discrimination, as well as the broader societal issues of the legacy of the conflict and Brexit.

To accompany this report, and in line with NICCY’s duty to ‘ground’ our work within the UNCRC and to monitor rights compliance and delivery of services for children and young people, all Northern Ireland Government Departments have provided an input to the ‘Monitoring Table’. This outlines progress made in relation to the Committee’s Concluding Observations published in June 2016, following the last examination. This table includes associated commentary from NICCY and is available separately on our website at www.niccy.org/socrni; links to this and other documents are provided throughout this report.

The boxes throughout the document contain relevant examples of children that NICCY’s Legal Team have supported through our casework service.

As always we have ensured the ‘voices’ and participation of young people has informed our work, and have supported them in producing a young person’s version to accompany this document, as well as an accessible format for younger children.

It is important that we highlight rights breaches and hold Government and relevant authorities to account, especially where these breaches adversely impact on the lives and outcomes of our children and young people.

This is true now, more than ever, given the ongoing absence of a Northern Ireland Assembly and Executive, the increasing uncertainty about the outcome of the UK’s EU withdrawal and potential reduction of rights protections.

We will of course be following up on the ‘Calls to Government’, which forms an integral part of our mission to safeguard and promote the rights and best interests of children and young people.