Commission comments on human rights and land reform

The Scottish Human Rights Commission has commented on the human rights implications of proposals for land reform in Scotland.

Professor Alan Miller, Chair of the Commission, said:

“Land reform raises a number of important human rights considerations which encompass a much broader set of issues than those we have heard discussed to date. Far from being a “red card” to stop discussion of land reform in its tracks or to polarise the debate in unhelpful terms, human rights should be seen as a framework for constructive dialogue between landowners and communities.

“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.

“For example, 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.

 “In the Commission’s view, debates about land reform should be informed by a fuller and more nuanced understanding of the international human rights framework.”

The Commission will publish its full response to the Scottish Government’s consultation on the issues later this month.  


  1. The Scottish Human Rights Commission is an independent public body with a remit to promote and protect human rights for everyone in Scotland. It is accredited as an “A status” national human rights institution within the UN system.
  2. The Scottish Government’s consultation on the future of land reform in Scotland is available here.
  3. Professor Alan Miller’s evidence to the Scottish Parliament’s Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee on 3 December 2014 is available here.