Commission welcomes "significant and bold" recommendations for new human rights framework

As Scotland marks the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights today, the Scottish Human Rights Commission has welcomed recommendations released by the First Minister's Advisory Group on Human Rights Leadership.

Judith Robertson, Chair of the Commission, said:

"Today is an important milestone in Scotland's human rights journey. Seventy years since universal human rights were first enshrined internationally, a persistent gap remains between well-intentioned laws and policies, and the reality for people's rights in their everyday lives. These significant and bold recommendations, if taken forward by the Scottish Government, have real potential to close that gap.

"In our work with people across Scotland, the Commission regularly hears evidence that poverty and barriers to accessing health, housing and social security are key concerns in people's everyday lives. Yet, the international human rights that correspond to these concerns - the rights to an adequate standard of living, housing, food, social security, education and work - have the least bite in our domestic law. The relationship between environmental rights and human rights is also becoming more important.

"That is why we are particularly pleased to see the Advisory Group recommend a new Act of the Scottish Parliament to enshrine economic, social, cultural and environmental rights in Scotland's domestic laws. This would strengthen existing protections for human rights and lead to a full compliance duty on public authorities and, where relevant, private institutions.

"The law should be both the starting point and the end point in making rights real in people's lives. First, human rights legal standards should guide the development of law, policy and practice affecting people's rights. And then, where there are failures at the end point, human rights laws should be a back stop of protection, ensuring redress, remedy and accountability.

"As we mark our own 10th anniversary this year, the Commission welcomes the fact that ambitions and leadership in human rights have grown over the last decade. Taking forward these recommendations will need sustained, collective leadership from government, parliament, civil society, the Commission and others. We stand ready to play our part in this, both through Scotland's National Action Plan on Human Rights and our work more broadly. We also welcome the Advisory Group's recognition that the resources and powers of the Commission must be commensurate with the importance of our role going forward."


For more information or to arrange an interview with Judith Robertson, contact Judy Fladmark ( / 07876 817978) or Emma Hutton ( / 07833 4022859)

Notes to Editors: 

  1. The seven Recommendations from the First Minister's Advisory Group on Human Rights Leadership  are as follows:
  1. An Act of the Scottish Parliament which provides human rights leadership.
  1. A public participatory process as a vital part of the preparation of the Act and its implementation.
  1. Capacity-building to enable effective implementation of the Act to improve people's lives.
  1. A Scottish Government National Mechanism for Monitoring, Reporting and Implementation of Human Rights.
  1. Development of human rights indicators for Scotland's National Performance Framework.
  1. Process of implementation of recommendations 1-5 to be led by a Task Force.
  1. Integration of any further devolved powers into the framework as proposed in Recommendation 1 and, if independence, a written constitution including a bill of Rights for Scotland.
  1. The Scottish Human Rights Commission marks its own tenth anniversary on 10 December 2018. The Commisson is Scotland's National Human Rights Institution, accredited with A Status within the United Nations human rights system.
  1. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 10 December 1948.