Human rights provide impetus for constructive land reform debate, Commission tells Scottish Government

The Scottish Human Rights Commission has made a submission to the Scottish Government’s Consultation on the Future of Land Reform in Scotland.

Calling for the debate on land reform to be informed by the full international human rights framework, the Commission highlights the importance of land as an asset that can help secure better social, environmental and economic outcomes for everyone.

Professor Alan Miller, Chair of the Commission said,

“Human rights have sometimes been painted as something of a “red card” to stop discussion of land reform in its tracks. But human rights are neither a veto for landowners to stop land reform, nor a trump card for land reformers to buy land. Rather than polarising the debate, human rights should be seen as an impetus for, rather than an inhibition to, constructive dialogue. 

“Land reform raises a number of human rights considerations that go far beyond the narrow focus we have seen to date. For example, land can play an important role in realising the right to an adequate standard of living contained in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

“Viewed through this broader international human rights lens, land is seen as an asset that can contribute to environmental objectives, meet the needs of people in existing and future communities, and build a strong and sustainable economy to provide prosperity for all.”

In its submission, the Commission outlines relevant aspects of the international human rights framework for land reform debates. Noting the significance of land in the context of the emerging UN Sustainable Development Goals, the Commission stresses the benefits of taking a human rights-based approach to developing policy on land reform.


  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. The Commission’s submission can be found here.