Child Rights

Child Rights Partner Programme with UNICEF UK

The video shows young people in Tower Hamlets explaining which rights are most important to them.


Tower Hamlets has teamed up with UNICEF UK and five other local authorities across the UK to take part in the Child Rights Partners programme, an exciting development which is aimed at putting child rights at the heart of public services. The local authorities are testing child rights based approaches in service areas.

We started our pilot in late 2011, which focuses on using a child rights based approach in the commissioning of the substance misuse treatment service for young people. This involved providers, who submitted bids to provide a substance misuse treatment service, demonstrating how a child’s rights will be considered as equally as their needs during the delivery of the service.  Read the child rights based needs assessment completed as part of the pilot. The pilot also includes the development of the Mayor’s Charter of Child Rights.

A child rights based approach is likely to result in improved outcomes for children and young people around their health, safety and potential and thereby supporting the delivery of our Children and Families Plan 2012-2015. The approach allows children and young people to shape services, hold services accountable for effective delivery and ensure services are delivered in a holistic way, which means taking into account all the needs of children and young people when supporting them and respecting all their rights equally.

Using the learning from the pilot, the council will work towards ensuring that future commissioning concerning children, young people and their families focus on child rights. The council also aims to develop and share local good practice around child rights and approaches between services and identify a hub for good practice. The Charter of Child Rights will help to achieve this as more and more partners sign up to it.

Raising the profile of child rights in the borough will also be achieved through the Child Rights Implementation Group, a working group whose membership is reflective of all the key partners across the Tower Hamlets partnership including social care, commissioning, early years, youth services, the voluntary sector and colleagues from health. This group will identify training needs to enable professionals to adopt a child rights based approach in their service delivery. We aim to produce an action plan to take forward the child rights agenda.

National Programme Launch

The Child Rights Partners programme was officially launched in November 2013 at the House of Commons and the Mayor of Tower Hamlets was one of the guest speakers at the event.

The Convention on the Rights of the Child

The Child Rights Partners programme is based on the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) that sets out rights in 54 articles and two Optional Protocols. It spells out the basic human rights that children everywhere have:

  • the right to survival; to develop to the fullest
  • to protection from harmful influences, abuse and exploitation and
  • to participate fully in family, cultural and social life.

The seven core principles of the Convention are:

  • the right to dignity
  • a right to life, survival and development
  • devotion to the best interests of a child
  • non-discrimination
  • interdependence and indivisibility
  • transparency and accountability
  • ensuring participation of children and young people.

The Convention protects children's rights by setting standards in health care, education, and legal, civil and social services. Equalities is at the heart of the Convention and our adoption of a child rights approach will enhance our response to equalities issues and will contribute to our One Tower Hamlets vision. Although the Convention has not become part of UK’s domestic law, the UK has signed the Convention (on April 19, 1990) and ratified it (on December 16, 1991) and the government is committed to the CRC and to its implementation.

Mayor’s Charter of Child Rights and Local Launch

The Mayor’s Charter of Child Rights has been developed to confirm the borough’s commitment to embedding child rights in service delivery at a local level. The Charter was shaped and designed with input from young people and marks a change in the way we deliver services, bringing different services together for the common cause of promoting the rights of children. The Charter was officially launched on Tuesday March 11, 2014.

A separate Charter has been developed for young people with a statement on the actions they can undertake to promote their rights. The Charter empowers young people and their families to know about their rights.

By signing the Charter, organisations will be committing themselves to upholding all the articles in the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and to paying particular regard to the ten points deemed particularly important by local youngsters. 

Rights Respecting Schools

Schools have an opportunity to embed a child rights approach in their everyday practices via the Rights Respecting Schools Award (RRSA). The scheme recognises achievement in putting the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child at the heart of a school’s planning, policies, practice and ethos.

A rights-respecting school not only teaches about children’s rights but also models rights and respect in all its relationships:

  • between teachers/adults and pupils
  • between adults and between pupils.

35 schools in the borough are involved in the scheme so far. Find out how to get your school involved.


If you or your service are involved in any work around child rights, we would like to hear from you. 

If you are an organisation and would like to sign up to the Charter, please contact Sheila Begum on 020 7364 2160 or email