The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) was ratified by the UK in 1976. It requires the UK to respect, protect and fulfil economic, social and cultural rights. These include workplace rights, the right to social security, the right to participation in cultural life, and rights to housing, food, water, healthcare and education.

ICESCR has not been incorporated into Scotland's laws. This means the rights it contains are not "justiciable". This means they cannot be enforced in our courts and have less protection than the rights contained in the Human Rights Act 1998 (rights like the right to vote, right to a fair trial and the right to life).

This lecture by James Wolffe QC explains the risks and benefits of different models of incorporation. 

In December 2015, the Commission and Scottish Government co-hosted a major conference, Putting the Justice into Social Justice, to explore models and benefits of incorporation. Read the conference papers. Giving a keynote speech at the event, the First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon MSP, committed to exploring how to incorporate international human rights into Scotland's laws. The Commission wants to see progress made on these ambitions.

This briefing paper by Dr Katie Boyle explains more about economic, social and cultural rights and how they could be better protected in Scotland.

The Commission's paper on Creating a Fairer Scotland makes recommendations for realising economic, social and cultural rights.


Adequate Standard of Living


Social Security

Human Rights Budget Work

Impact Assessment

Right to Food

Overcoming poverty is not a gesture of charity. It is an act of justice. It is the protection of a fundamental human right, the right to dignity and a decent life.

Nelson Mandela