Launch of Scotland's National Action Plan for Human Rights

Scotland’s National Action Plan for Human Rights (SNAP), published today, sets out key commitments from government, civil society and the private sector, all aimed at improving human rights protection in Scotland.

The Action Plan - a first for the UK - comes after four years of research overseen by the Scottish Human Rights Commission.

The evidence gathered by the Commission reveals that while Scotland has a good record in policy and law making, human rights are not consistently being promoted, respected or protected in peoples every day lives. Key areas of concern include care, disability rights, health, criminal justice and business. 

SNAP was developed by a coalition of organisations including Amnesty International, local authorities, the NHS, Scottish Government, Scotland’s Commissioner for Children and Young People, the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations and trades unions.

These bodies and others have made firm commitments to integrating human rights more closely into their work as a result of the Action Plan, which will grow from these early pledges into a wider coalition by 2017 covering all aspects of Scottish life and work. Progress in making these changes will be independently monitored, and regular reports given to the Scottish Parliament.

Professor Alan Miller, Chair, Scottish Human Rights Commission said: “Today, International Human Rights Day, Scotland is taking a big step towards building a country where everyone can live a life of human dignity.

“The Scottish Parliament has human rights at its heart, it created the Scottish Human Rights Commission and today Scotland’s first National Action Plan for Human Rights (SNAP) is launched as the next step on Scotland’s journey to progressively realise internationally agreed human rights for the benefit of everyone.”

Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “I warmly welcome the launch of Scotland’s first National Action Plan for Human Rights. This government is committed to building a modern, inclusive Scotland which protects, respects and realises everyone’s human rights. 
‪“The Plan is an important milestone in our journey to create a Scotland which acts as a beacon of progress internationally.  We will continue to work with the Scottish Human Rights Commission to make rights a reality for all in Scotland, in keeping with the importance this government has long attached to human dignity, equality and fairness and the pursuit of social justice.” 

Nils Muižnieks, the Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights said: “Scotland’s National Action Plan for Human Rights is a bold venture which aims to bring human rights home in people’s everyday life. It signals a strong commitment to internationally agreed human rights standards which is particularly significant in the current context of economic crisis and austerity.

“Human rights provide a universal normative framework within which governments’ economic and social policies must function. The Scottish National Action Plan lays the foundation for a culture of human rights in Scotland which puts people at the centre of society.”

Key commitments announced today include:

The Scottish Government, NHS Health Scotland, the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities and the Health and Social Care Alliance will design and lead a programme of work to ensure that human rights is put at the heart of the integration of health and social care including in guidance, workforce development and through practical pilot approaches wherever possible.

Police Scotland will identify opportunities to further embed human rights within the structures and culture of policing. These will include strengthening accountability for the respect of human rights as well as training on human rights for the police.

The Scottish and UK Governments, Scottish businesses and the Scottish Human Rights Commission will pursue the development of an action plan to implement the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights by Scotland and raise awareness among Scottish companies of their human rights responsibilities.

NHS Health Scotland will promote a human rights approach to the reduction of health inequalities.

The Scottish Government will work with a range of partners to put human rights at the heart of the principles which guide delivery of health and care services in Scotland, as part of its review of the National Care Standards.

The Scottish Government – working in partnership with COSLA, the NHS, and the third sector – will continue to pursue a human rights-based approach to independent living, and to the implementation of national strategies for learning disabilities and self-directed support.

The Scottish Government will ensure that human rights are central to reform of the criminal justice system in Scotland, and will work with others, including the Scottish Human Rights Commission, to monitor the way in which human rights are impacted by such reforms.

The Scottish Government will work with others to begin to explore the potential benefits of further incorporation of human rights treaties into the law of Scotland, learning from the experience of other countries and taking stock of where Scotland has reached.

The Action Plan was welcomed in 2012 by the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.