Nicola Sturgeon raises human rights of children during China visit

Written by Tom Freeman on 11 April 2018 in News

Children's rights raised by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon in UNICEF event during visit to China

Nicola Sturgeon in China - First Minister's Office

Protecting the rights of children is a “moral obligation and an economic necessity” for governments, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said during a visit to China.

Speaking at an event alongside children’s charity UNICEF, Sturgeon highlighted work done by the Scottish Government to mark its ‘year of young people’, including the review of the care system and the recently passed law on reducing child poverty.

Although members of the Chinese government are not thought to have attended the event, Sturgeon did promise to raise human rights issues with them.

The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child is central to Scottish policy decisions, she added, marking 70 years since the UN declaration of human rights.

“For China, for Scotland, and indeed for all nations, promoting children’s rights, and tackling child poverty, is both a moral obligation and an economic necessity,” she said.

Sturgeon praised China’s National Programme of Action for Children, which has seen the construction of 60,000 new nurseries and kindergartens and a pledge to end absolute poverty by 2020.

“China and Scotland will inevitably sometimes have different perspectives and different starting points – but we have a strong friendship and partnership, as I have seen throughout my visit here, and we also share common interests and common challenges.

“For example, how we implement and live up to the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals.

“We also both recognise that nothing is more fundamental to our future success, than the support and care we provide for our young people. We know that by tackling poverty and promoting equity; by supporting education and childcare; and by recognising and strengthening children’s rights; we can meet our moral obligations while laying the foundations for future prosperity and wellbeing.”

China signed up to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, but its human rights record has been criticised by Amnesty International, which briefed Sturgeon ahead of her visit to Beijing this week on the country’s frequent use of the death penalty and restrictions to freedoms of expression.

The charity has also raised the closure of women’s rights NGOs in China as part of a wider crackdown on campaign groups.

Rana Flowers, UNICEF Representative to China, said: “It is vital that we promote the rights and well-being of every child here in China, in Scotland and globally. We are stronger for our partnerships with governments and for our shared commitment to prioritizing children and young people.”

Sturgeon also used the visit to meet Scottish students studying in China and announced £754,000 investment in scholarships for the programme through the Confucius Institute for Scotland’s Schools.

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