Human Rights and Fiscal Policy

As public policy, fiscal policy is subject to human rights accountability and obligations. The standards and principles that come from human rights treaties should be taken into account in the design and implementation of fiscal policy including budget-setting and taxation decisions.

Human rights budgeting and budget analysis

The public budget is the principal economic policy document of any government.

Applying a human rights framework to the budget would add value to efforts to realise social justice in Scotland, including:

  • Ensuring that the principal economic policy document of the government is developed and implemented not simply in line with the priorities of a particular government, but in keeping with the human rights law that binds all governments, regardless of who is in power.
  • Ensuring that the government gives appropriate priority within the budget to spending on critical areas for human rights such as health, education, access to justice, and work.
  • Focusing on continually enhancing the availability, accessibility and quality of critical government goods and services for everyone.

Read more about human rights budgeting and budget analysis.


Tax revenues are the main source of income that governments can use to meet their legal obligations to protect, respect and fulfil human rights - ranging from the right to housing, the right to health, the right to a fair trial, the right to education and social security, and the principle of transparency and accountability.

Tax policy is important for ensuring sufficient resources are available to realise human rights, It also plays a fundamental role in redressing inequalities. Tax is also a mechanism for shaping the accountability of governments to the people they represent. The Commission believes it is essential to put human rights at the centre of fiscal policy.

The Commission recommends the Scottish Government adopts a human rights based approach to taxation. Read our submission to the Scottish Parliament’s call for evidence on a Scottish approach to taxation.

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