Increase in support for human rights in Scotland

People in Scotland are more likely to support human rights than not and are increasingly worried about having fewer human rights according to new research.

YouGov research published by the Scottish Human Rights Commission shows that almost half of people in Scotland support human rights. Support for human rights has increased by six per cent since 2017 to 48% of Scots. 

The new research also shows an increase in concern from people about experiencing fewer human rights in Scotland and a third of Scots think the Scottish Government should do more to improve human rights.

The Commission asked public opinion specialists YouGov to carry out research to investigate public attitudes towards human rights in Scotland and publishes these results ahead of Human Rights Day on Sunday 10 December 2023, which this year marks the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. 

Today’s publication follows up earlier research from the Commission in 2017, and provides an insight on how public attitudes in Scotland are changing about human rights.

Read the full report ' Attitudes to Human Rights in Scotland’ (Accessible PDF)

Read the Word version (Word)

Easy read version (Easy Read)

Key findings

  • Research shows support for human rights in Scotland has increased by 6% since 2017 to 48% and is the largest group in each Scottish region.
  • There is an increase in concern from people about experiencing fewer human rights in Scotland, with 60% ‘worried’, compared to 52% in 2017.
  • A third of Scots either believe the Scottish Government should do more (33%), or is doing enough (32%)
  • Fewer Scots would know who to contact about a human rights issue now (22%) than in 2017 (27%)
  • Many Scots expressed concerns about the human rights protections of people living in vulnerable situations and considered the rights of minority groups and people living in poverty to be under threat.

Research methodology

The research methodology included an online survey of 1,401 adults, aged 16 years plus, in Scotland and four online focus groups to review how people responded to key messages on human rights. Figures have been weighted and are representative of all Scottish adults.

Mandate to promote and protect human rights

This research supports the Commission’s role as Scotland’s Human Rights watchdog.  Established by an Act of the Scottish Parliament and accredited by the United Nations to independently monitor how human rights are being upheld and experienced, the Commission: 

  • Delivers a broad mandate to promote and protect human rights
  • Represents all aspects of society
  • Monitors and reports independently of Government to the United Nations and the Scottish Parliament

Jan Savage, Executive Director of the Commission, said:

“Sunday 10th December 2023 marks the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Human rights belong to every one of us, and they exist in the lives, communities and attitudes of real people in real places. Our timely new research shows a significant increase both in support for human rights, and in concern about the prospect of people experiencing fewer human rights in Scotland.

“This report helps us understand public attitudes towards human rights and gives us a more detailed picture of how public views on human rights in Scotland are evolving over time.

“It also shows that fewer people know where to go for help about their human rights. This is a concern for the Commission.

“These findings help us identify areas of focus for the Commission’s next Strategic Plan 2024-28, which we will lay before the Scottish Parliament in early 2024. Our findings will also be of interest to duty bearers, regulators and elected representatives who have responsibilities to uphold human rights.”


For media enquiries please contact: Judy Fladmark on 07880 398530 or email or

Notes to editors:

  1. The Commission is an independent public body with a duty to promote awareness, understanding and respect for all human rights – economic, social, cultural, civil and political – to everyone, everywhere in Scotland. Our full duties and powers are set out in the Scottish Commission for Human Rights Act 2006.
  2. All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc.
  3. Full data tables for the online survey are available online at:
  4. Fieldwork for the survey was undertaken between 17-26 January 2023.
  5. The focus groups were conducted online between 21-22 February 2023.
  6. Previous YouGov Audience Insight research published by Commission in 2018.