Commission to address Human Rights Council

The Scottish Human Rights Commission will today join a global meeting of National Human Rights Institutions and the Human Rights Council at the United Nations headquarters in Geneva.

Professor Alan Miller, Chair of the Commission, will be speaking directly to the UN Human Rights Council about the right to housing in the UK.

He will deliver a joint statement on behalf of the three National Human Rights Institutions of the UK (SHRC, the Equality and Human Rights Commission and the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission) on the report of Raquel Rolnik, Special Rapporteur on the right to housing, whose report on the UK was published earlier this year.

This represents a unique opportunity to address the concerns raised by the Special Rapporteur, whose report noted the impact of austerity and welfare changes on the most vulnerable people in Scotland and the UK. Professor Miller will welcome the Rapporteur’s findings and specify, in particular, the under-occupancy rules (known as the ‘bedroom tax’) and limits to housing benefit as a particular concern for human rights protection.

Professor Miller’s oral evidence to the Human Rights Council will be given directly after the Special Rapporteur’s presentation and the UK Government’s response.

Watch the webcast of the report being delivered.

The Commission will also take part in a number of other meetings. Commissioner Kay Hampton will address the rights of children within the justice system and offer some insight into the Scottish context. She will inform the meeting about some Scottish initiatives, for example the welfare based Children’s Hearings system. She will also address some of the challenges for children’s rights in Scotland such as protecting children from violence, barriers to accessing justice and the impact of welfare reform.

Professor Miller will also give oral evidence to the Human Rights Council about the issue of climate change and will offer some insight into the Scottish response. He will speak to Scotland’s key role in this area through Scotland’s National Action Plan for Human Rights and urge that other countries also begin a process to put people and human rights at the heart of climate policy.

‘ICC 27’ will run for two days and gives the Commission the chance to share and learn best practice with other human rights institutions. There will be discussions around Scotland’s National Action Plan for Human Rights launched in December 2013. Commissioner Matt Smith will also offer some insights into how national action plans can promote the rights of women.

All of the speeches, meetings and presentations will be available to watch live on the UN’s website


  • The Human Rights Council is an inter-governmental body within the United Nations system responsible for strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights around the globe and for addressing situations of human rights violations and make recommendations on them. It was set up in 2006 and is made up of 47 United Nations Member States which are elected by the UN General Assembly.

  • The UK’s three National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) are: Equality and Human Rights Commission, Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission and the Scottish Human Rights Commission.

  • The ICC is the global network of NHRIs and is responsible for coordinating the relationship between NHRIs and the United Nations human rights system. The ICC currently has 103 member NHRIs – 69 of which are fully in compliance with the UN’s Principles of the Status of National Institutions for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights (Paris Principles).

  • SHRC has been a full member of the ICC since receiving accreditation as being fully in compliance with the Paris Principles in 2010.

  • SHRC has been the Chair of the European Network of NHRIs (ENNHRI) since 2011 and was re-elected in 2013 for a further three years. As a regional chair SHRC is also a member of the ICC Bureau.

  • In 2013 the Chair of the SHRC was re-appointed as the Secretary of the ICC, one of two leadership roles, with responsibility for representing the ICC.

  • The ICC has an annual meeting to bring NHRIs together to share best practice and to progress collective work. The 27th meeting of the ICC (ICC 27) will take place from 12-14 March 2014.