Commission welcomes First Minister's speech

The Commission has welcomed a major speech by First Minister Alex Salmond in which he emphasised Scotland's place in the international human rights community.

In a speech at Tsinghua University, Beijing, the First Minister said: "In recent years, a mechanism has been established which allows countries to consider and compare how they promote collective wellbeing and individual rights. It’s called the Universal Periodic Review, and it’s run by the United Nations’ Human Rights Council.

"It means that all UN member states are assessed by fellow members of the UN – it’s a system which recognises that we’re all on the same journey towards developing human rights; all of us can learn from each other.

"Scotland is part of this journey. We have some way to go ... but we are acting now take part in the international dialogue on human rights, and to promote the rights of our citizens and the wellbeing of our society.

"Next month in Scotland we will launch our first Action Plan for Human Rights - setting out how Scotland will meet internationally agreed standards. The action plan will make clear that each of us has a responsibility to build a community in which every individual can flourish. It attracts international attention already and its principles, I would submit, can be traced right back, in Scottish terms, to the Enlightenment of Adam Smith.

It epitomizes this Government's ambition for Scotland; to build a fairer society at home and to make a positive contribution to the wider world."

Read the full text of the speech here (link to Scottish Government website).

In response Professor Alan Miller, Chair of the Scottish Human Rights Commission, said: “I warmly welcome this speech of the First Minister which speaks to the times in which we are all living.

"It grounds human rights in Scotland’s relationship with China and in Scotland’s own journey. The centrality of the UN human rights system is affirmed and a clear commitment given to support the contribution of Scotland’s first National Action Plan for Human Rights to 'build a fairer society at home and to make a positive contribution to the wider world'.

"The development of the Action Plan, facilitated by the Scottish Human Rights Commission and supported by the United Nations and the Council of Europe, has gained broad participation from across the breadth of Scottish civic society and the political spectrum and will be launched on December 10, International Human Rights Day."

The First Minister’s address to Tsinghua University in Beijing was delivered during his trade mission to China, with delegations from the oil and gas and construction sectors comprising 30 companies undertaking business in the country over a five-day period.