UN Committee on the Rights of the Child

The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child ('UN Committee') oversees what countries are doing to implement the UNCRC. It monitors their progress.

The UN Committee is made up of 18 independent experts on children’s human rights from different countries. They meet three times a year in Geneva.

The UN Committee has three main roles:

  • 1. Reviewing countries' progress

    Every five years, the UN Committee checks up on countries' action to implement children's human rights. It makes recommendations telling the country what it should do to improve the protection of children’s human rights.

    These recommendations are called Concluding Observations.

    Scroll down to find out more about the review cycle and recommendations the UN Committee has made to the UK and Scotland.

  • 2. Issuing guidance

    The UN Committee creates guidance setting out what UNCRC rights mean in more detail. 

    These guidance documents are called General Comments.

    Find out more about the Committee’s General Comments here.

  • 3. Hearing individual complaints

    The UN Committee can hear complaints from individual children who think their rights have been breached.

    Children can only submit a complaint to the UN Committee if their government has signed up to the “individual complaints mechanism”. The UK Governments has not done this yet. The Scottish Government does not have the power to do this.

    Find out more about the individual complaints mechanism here.

Reviewing countries' progress

Every country that has ratified the UNCRC needs to update the UN Committee about what it is doing to protect, respect and fulfil children's human rights.

The UN Committee checks up on countries' progress approximately every five years. It follows a five step process set out below. Information about supporting children to participate in this process can be found here.


Diagram shows how each of the five steps described in more detail below form a repeating, cyclical pattern.

What happens at each step?

  • 1. Questions from the UN Committee (LOIPR)

    The reporting process begins with the UN Committee sending the UK and devolved governments a list of questions. This is known as the List of Issues Prior to Reporting (LOIPR).

    The UN Committee typically asks about recent developments, actions that the governments have taken and their future plans to implement the UNCRC and optional protocols.

    Children's charities, NGOs, national human rights institutions and individuals can send reports to the UN Committee to help it identify what questions it should ask. Together worked with its members to submit a report to the UN Committee in December 2020. We also submitted a joint report alongside our sister organisations in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

    The UN Committee published its list of questions in February 2021.

  • 2. Reports
    UK Government report

    The UK Government has one year to reply to the UN Committee's list of questions. It prepares a formal report drawing on input from the devolved governments.

    Position statements

    The UK Government must follow a strict word limit when submitting its official report. Accordingly, the devolved governments sometimes choose to publish a separate position statement so they can set out their position in more detail. 

    Shadow reports

    Once the UK Government report has been submitted, stakeholders such as children's charities and NGOs can submit their own reports about how well children's human rights are being implemented and what further action they think is needed.

    These reports are essential as they provide the UN Committee with an independent, non-governmental account of what life is like for children in Scotland. They help the UN Committee understand areas of concern and what recommendations would help address these.

    Together works closely with its members to prepare its shadow report. Engagement usually includes a series of surveys, webinars and peer review. Together works with its members to support children to prepare their own report.

    These shadow reports must be submitted one month before the UN Committee holds its pre-sessional working group.

  • 3. Dialogue

    After reviewing all the reports, the UN Committee invites a group of government officials to a formal meeting in Geneva. 

    During this meeting, the UN Committee and government officials discuss the key issues that have been raised in the reports and at the pre-session. This is an opportunity for the UN Committee to ask questions and for the government officials to clarify any points.

    The findings from this meeting form the basis of the UN Committee's recommendations (known as "Concluding Observations").

    The UK's most recent review took place on 18-19th May 2023.

  • 4. Concluding Observations

    A few weeks after the dialogue, the UN Committee publishes its Concluding Observations.

    The Concluding Observations set out the UN Committee's assessment of how well the country is implementing the UNCRC, any areas of concern and recommendations to address these.

    The Concluding Observations are the main outcome of the review process. They are a very useful tool for children's rights defenders to use in their advocacy and to monitor government progress.

    The most recent Concluding Observations were published on 2nd June 2023.

  • 5. Follow-up

    Following the Concluding Observations, there is a period of follow-up activity where countries are encouraged to implement the UN Committee's recommendations ahead of the next reporting cycle. The Concluding Observations are a very useful tool for children's rights defenders to use in their advocacy and to monitor government progress and push for change.