Land Reform

Land reform in Scotland is an important human rights issue. The Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2016 was passed in April 2016.  

Why is land ownership a human rights issue?

Land ownership and access to land in Scotland is an emotive issue. During 2014 and 2015, the Commission engaged with a wide range of stakeholders, the Scottish Parliament and the Scottish Government, to encourage everyone involved to recognise that human rights are engaged in the debate.

We stressed that Scottish Ministers are empowered by the Scotland Act 1998 to observe and implement international human rights obligations. These include but go beyond the European Convention on Human Rights. The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights places a duty on Ministers to use the maximum available resources to ensure the progressive realisation of rights like the right to housing, food and employment.

Viewed through this broader human rights lens, land is seen as a national asset, with key questions arising of how to strike the most appropriate balance between the legitimate rights of landowners and the wider public interest.

What has the Commission done?

In 2014 and 2015 the Commission gave evidence to the Scottish Parliament and the Scottish Government on land reform.

We wrote about human rights and land reform in the Herald in April 2015.