The UK has found itself at the bottom of a global index which monitors the enforcement, protection and promotion of children’s rights.

Dutch international children’s rights organization KidsRights placed the UK 170th out of 181 countries in its 2019 index.

The UK was also ranked 178th out of 181 countries when it came to providing an appropriate environment for children’s rights. The index included the UK’s performance over its implementation of the following elements:

  • The ‘best interest of the child’ policy,
  • Non-discrimination,
  • Respect for the views of children and their engagement in processes which affect them,
  • Enabling child-focused legislation,
  • Offering proper budgets for child welfare,
  • The collection and analysis of child-focused data and,
  • State-civil society cooperation for child rights.

Iceland ranked first in this year’s index, followed by Portugal, Switzerland, Finland and Germany marking the countries as the top five most successful states when it came to protecting children’s rights in 2019.

The nine countries ranked lower than the UK included war-torn countries and states which had experienced long-term conflict, such as the Democratic Republic of Congo,  Sierra Leone, and Afghanistan which came in last on the index.

A report published at the same time as the index criticised the UK’s approach to children’s rights, noting systematic discrimination against child refugees and a lack of legal protection for children experiencing poverty.

A press release issued by KidsRights on 13th May offers the following information:

“The UK’s low rankings are attributed to discrimination against children from minority groups such as refugees or migrants. As well as concerns that the views of children, especially children from a poorer social background, are systematically not being heard in policymaking on issues that affect them and, insufficient investment in children’s rights.”

The UK ranked a little better in other areas, coming in at number 20 for domain life which assessed under 5 mortality, life expectancy at birth and maternal mortality ratio.

Other scores for the UK included:

  • 35/ 181 – percentage of under 5s who were underweight, immunization of 1 year-old children, percentage of the population using improved sanitation facilities (urban and rural), percentage of the population using improved drinking water sources (urban and rural)
  • 12/181- education, namely expected years of schooling of boys and girls, and gender inequality in expected years of schooling (absolute difference between girls and boys)
  • 30/181 – child labour, adolescent birth rate and birth registration

Many thanks to Teresa for sharing this index with us.

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