Celebrating International Human Rights Day 2012

People from across Scotland are invited to make their voices heard in the debate about human rights protection by participating in shaping Scotland’s National Action Plan for Human Rights.

Scotland’s National Action Plan for Human Rights - a first in the UK - will set out how to “fill the gaps” as well as build upon good practice in human rights protection in Scotland with public bodies, civil society and others already getting involved in discussing what it would contain.

Read more about the National Action Plan.

Today, International Human Rights Day, Professor Alan Miller, Chair of the Commission, urged people from across the country to come forward and participate in forming the National Action Plan by submitting their views and experiences.

He said: “The global theme of this year’s Human Rights Day is ‘My Voice Counts’ - this is very fitting as we are encouraging people from across Scotland to participate in forming Scotland’s first National Action Plan for Human Rights. This is an ambitious proposal, and the more ideas and information that are submitted during the participation phase the more effective the Action Plan will be.

“More needs to be done in Scotland to ensure that human rights are consistently upheld in areas like healthcare, social care, housing, education, and in the justice system.

"We need to hear from people about the barriers they face in realising their human rights and explore possible solutions. What emerges will be the results of negotiation over the coming months and we aim to make the process people-centered, practical and realistic.

“Many other countries already have a National Action Plan for Human Rights in place, and they have been shown to be effective in bringing about sustainable change. It is vital that Scotland makes human rights real for the most vulnerable and marginalised people in our society, and the National Action Plan can make a real contribution to that.”

Professor Miller was speaking ahead of an event at Glasgow Caledonian University to mark International Human Rights Day. Today’s event brings together voluntary organisations, political representatives, academics and civic society leaders for discussions on the Action Plan.

Minister for Community and Legal Affairs Roseanna Cunningham will address the conference delegates. The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, and Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Nils Muižnieks, have both also sent video messages to mark Human Rights Day in Scotland and in support of the process put in place by the Commission.

In her message to Scotland, Navi Pillay says: “As Human Rights Commissioner I encourage all countries to adopt National Action Plans as they are an important tool for any country to approach the realisation of human rights. I therefore wish you every success with this important initiative and have full confidence that the Scottish Human Rights Commission along with all the people from all sections of society who are participating in this process will fulfill the hopes and expectations that have been invested in them. Not just in drawing up the National Action Plan, but also in making sure it is effectively implemented."

International Human Rights Day is celebrated globally on 10 December every year to mark the anniversary of the 1948 adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This year’s theme is Inclusion and the right to participate in public life, under the call to action My Voice Counts, referring directly to the articles in the Declaration that provide for the right to freedom of assembly and association, the right to take part in elections, in public life and the right to freedom of expression and opinion. 

The participation phase of Scotland’s National Action Plan closes on 29 March 2013.

Find out more about Human Rights Day at the Office of the High Comissioner website.