Human rights laws must go forwards, not back

Scotland’s national human rights institution has today set out a ‘progressive test’ for proposals to change the UK’s human rights laws. In a briefing to all parties in the UK General Election, the Scottish Human Rights Commission makes clear that any such proposals must protect rights for all, improve people’s lives, ensure accountability, build a better human rights culture and show international leadership.

Professor Alan Miller, Chair of the Commission, said: “Changes to the UK’s human rights laws would have a direct impact on the lives of people in Scotland, particularly in areas like immigration, defence and some aspects of welfare. Moreover, any regressive changes would send a damaging message across Europe and beyond.

“Pointing to the development of Scotland’s National Action Plan for Human Rights as a progressive approach that could be replicated elsewhere, the Commission calls on all politicians to ensure that human rights laws go forwards, not back”.

Professor Miller continued: “This is a time to test commitment to the fundamental principles and values enshrined in our human rights laws and international obligations. We must not allow regressive changes to slip through, or opportunities to improve people’s lives to be missed. All of us deserve better than that.”


  1. The Scottish Human Rights Commission is an independent public body with a statutory remit to promote and protect all human rights for everyone in Scotland. The Commission is accredited as an ‘A Status’ national human rights institution within the UN system.
  2. The Commission’s briefing, Human rights for all – forwards or back? is available in PDF format.
  3. Scotland’s National Action Plan for Human Rights (SNAP) was launched on 10 December 2013. SNAP brings together a wide range of public bodies and civil society organisations, as well as national and local government, to work on improving human rights in people’s everyday lives, building a better human rights culture and fulfilling Scotland’s international human rights obligations.