Poverty, health inequalities and discrimination reported to UN as human rights issues

The Scottish Human Rights Commission has submitted a report to the United Nations (UN) setting out ways in which people in Scotland’s economic, social and cultural rights are not being met. The report has been submitted as part of a review taking place this week in Geneva, by the UN Committee for the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR).

Read the full report.

The Commission’s report draws particular attention to the adverse and disproportionate impact of welfare reform and austerity measures on human rights for particular groups, including women, disabled people, children and young people, pensioners on low incomes and people from ethnic minorities.

 The report also highlights failures to advance social and economic rights in relation to health inequalities, the gender pay gap and gender segregation in employment and training, and in particular employment-related discrimination experienced by Scottish Gypsy/Travellers and disabled people.  Scotland’s new tax, welfare and borrowing powers are identified as an important vehicle for better realising people’s rights.

Judith Robertson, Chair of the Commission, said: “We all have the same rights – to work, to an adequate standard of living, to health, education and housing. Unfortunately poverty, poor health, economic inequality, insecure employment and everyday discrimination still blight too many people’s lives in Scotland. These are human rights issues and must be tackled by Scotland’s politicians and public authorities as such.”

While acknowledging efforts made by the Scottish Government and Scottish Parliament, particularly through commitments to Scotland’s National Action Plan for Human Rights (SNAP), the report stresses the need for greater progress.

Judith Robertson continued: “Human rights in Scotland are at an important juncture – there is much good work to build on, but a long way to go before we can say with confidence that everyone in Scotland enjoys their full range of human rights equally. With new powers coming to the Scottish Parliament, the Commission will be sharpening its focus on ensuring our Governments and public authorities meet their human rights obligations.” 

The UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights will publish its findings on Scotland and the UK’s implementation of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) in July.


Notes to Editors

  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 International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) is an international human rights treaty that commits its parties to work towards progressively realising a set of rights including employment rights, the right to health, education and an adequate standard of living.