Looking ahead: Commission launches its Strategic Plan 2024-28

The Scottish Human Rights Commission has launched its new Strategic Plan for 2024-28. Here, the Members of the Commission explain what we’ll do to promote and protect human rights in Scotland over the next four years.

By Jim Farish, Shelley Gray, Claire Methven O’Brien; Members of the Scottish Human Rights Commission

In the last 12 months, the Commission has become increasingly focused on  the accountability gap for human rights in Scotland.  That is, the gap between what good laws and policies say should happen, and the experiences of people in their daily lives.  Most worryingly for us, we have heard through our own research that the majority of Scots wouldn’t know where to turn if they had a human rights problem.

Take poverty, homelessness, poor prison conditions and inadequate social care – these are just some of the issues facing Scotland, where it’s clear that a commitment to a human rights based approach in our laws and policies hasn’t yet improved the outcomes that count – in the lives and communities of people; the very places where human rights matter.

The Commission is accountable to the people of Scotland, through the Scottish Parliament.  And so it is only right that the people of Scotland have been involved in the development of our new Strategic Plan.  As one person told us:

“Any meaningful commitment to human rights must start from the ground up, with recognising the humanity of the people standing beside you...”

These words have helped us to build the vision and goals of the Scottish Human Rights Commission’s new Strategic Plan for 2024-28.

In the plan, we have detailed our ambition to lead this organisation out into communities; to talk, to listen and find out how well human rights are being realised in Scotland. This will inform our decisions on how we will use our powers and resources over the next four years.

We’ll deliver our work  across three strategic objectives:

Purpose – improving accountability for human rights in Scotland

We will keep using our powers to make sure there are strong human rights protections for everyone in Scotland, to hold the people responsible to account when things go wrong, and support them to do better. We will also work to make sure that the Commission has the   powers and the resources it needs to best serve the people of Scotland.  We will focus work on advising the Scottish Parliament on the passage of the new Human Rights Bill for Scotland, providing advice to make sure that it strengthens the legal framework which protects all of our rights in law.  

People – a Commission informed by, and working alongside, people with direct experience of human rights issues

In 2024-28 the Commission will engage with as many people as it can in communities across Scotland, to find out more about human rights in their lives.  Using evidence gathered in our own monitoring, and through our conversations with people in the Scottish Parliament, in civil society and different communities, we’ve identified four themes to focus on closely in the next four years. These are:

  1. The impact of poverty on human rights
  2. Human rights in places of detention
  3. Access to Justice
  4. Rights to remedy for groups who have special protections under international human rights treaties, such as disabled people, and the Gypsy/Traveller community.

We will keep some capacity to respond to other issues which present as concerns to us too.

Performance – monitoring and reporting on human rights progress in Scotland

The Commission is completely independent of the Government. We will monitor and report on how human rights are being experienced in Scotland and play our part in creating a stronger human rights culture.  This includes our monitoring and reporting to the United Nations and to the Scottish Parliament.  We will introduce an annual state of the nation report, providing a regular update to Parliament on progress in developing and implementing human rights protections and laws.

We look forward to serving the people of Scotland as its human rights watchdog over the next four years.  We will work with the Commission’s expert staff team, our next Chair, the Scottish Parliament, civil society and others to bring our Strategic Plan to life and create real change.

We thank everyone who took the time to engage in our work over the last 12 months and who has helped us design these future plans for the Scottish Human Rights Commission.

You can read the full plan by clicking this link or on the publications page of our website at www.scottishhumanrights.com.