The Children's Rights Alliance for England (CRAE) was registered as a charity (the Children's Rights Development Unit) in October 1991, and opened its first office in March 1992. Highlights of our first decade include the preparation of the UK agenda for children (the first UK NGO alternative report to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child), the formation of a child-led organisation Article 12, and achieving wide dissemination of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), including through a booklet funded and printed by the Department of Health (150,000 copies) and a Channel 4 children's rights series. We published several guides covering different aspects of children’s rights, and launched the Public register of adoptions, with over 300 statutory organisations and professional bodies indicating their willingness to work within the framework of the CRC. We established and co-ordinated the 13-year campaign for a Children’s Rights Commissioner and supported young people to run their own Commissioner campaign, which they called Rights Here Rights Now.
During our second decade, CRAE grew significantly in membership. We expanded our influencing activity to include lobbying on specific legislation and pushed for the incorporation of the CRC into domestic law (a change we continue to pursue, and which was included as a pledge in the Liberal Democrat 2010 General Election manifesto). In 2003, we published our first annual State of children’s rights in England report, which assesses government progress towards fulfilling its human rights obligations to children. Once the Government announced its intention to establish a Children's Commissioner in England following the 13-year campaign co-ordinated by CRAE, we successfully lobbied for 11 significant changes in the legislation to strengthen the independence of the role. In 2000, we published a booklet advocating voting rights for 16 and 17 year-olds, later co-founding the Votes at 16 campaign in 2003.