The BBC is reporting that the government will announce we are finally going to sign up properly next week to the 1989 UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. At the moment the UK has a controversial opt-out of one of the key parts of the Convention, Article 3, which requires signatories to safeguard the best interests of children. Our opt-out is for immigrant children – explicitly, the UK has considered immigration control to be more important than the best interests of children.
The opt out is such a major one that arguably in international law the UK can’t really be considered to have signed up to the Convention – or, rather, that the opt-out was unlaw in international law.
All that looks like it will shortly become history, though, which is very good news indeed. This is likely to have an important effect in detention cases, which Mark Easton talks about, but could also have important ramifications elsewhere. For example, the anti-discrimination clauses could be useful in other areas of immigration law and policy, and in future the strict obervance of immigration rules or policies without giving primary consideration to the best interests of a child will arguably be unlawful.