This Human Rights Day, new report to United Nations shows Scottish Parliament and Scottish Government must go further on human rights

Evidence submitted by the Scottish Human Rights Commission to the latest United Nations (UN) review of human rights across the UK, shows that a number of international human rights standards and recommendations have not yet been met in Scotland.

In its report to the UN’s Universal Periodic Review of human rights in the UK, published to mark International Human Rights Day (10 December), the Commission stresses that the Scottish Parliament and Scottish Government must and can go further to ensure people’s rights are realised in practice.

The Scottish Government has been vocal in its support of putting human rights at the heart of government and opposing the repeal of the Human Rights Act. Nevertheless, significant human rights challenges continue to be felt in people’s day-to-day lives in areas like poverty, health, education, social care, disability and detention.

Read a summary of the report

Judith Robertson, Chair of the Commission, said:

“The UN last reviewed the overall state of human rights in the UK in 2012 and made a series of recommendations for improvements. Since then, there has been some progress in a number of areas such as the introduction of legislation to address human trafficking, efforts to tackle hate crime and sectarianism, and steps taken to mitigate the impact of welfare reforms.

“However in other areas we would like to see more progress, for example in addressing persistent health inequalities, the inadequacy of mental health treatment and service provision, and food and fuel poverty. All of which is affecting ever higher numbers of people in Scotland. 

“The Commission wants to see progress where it really counts – in people’s everyday lives. To achieve this the Scottish Government and Scottish Parliament must go further in systematically responding to the recommendations from the UN and integrating a human rights based approach into all law and policy making.

“The Commission welcomes the positive statements and support shown for human rights in recent years by both the Scottish Government and Scottish Parliament.

“We are now calling on the Scottish Parliament to step up and do more to fulfil its obligations as a guarantor of people’s rights in Scotland. And we want to see the Scottish Government fully implement the UN’s previous recommendations – and indeed go further in demonstrating international best practice in its commitment to the protection of people’s rights in Scotland. This means taking action to incorporate international human rights treaties into Scotland’s laws, doing more to explicitly put human rights at the heart of policy making – for example when it comes to new social security powers – and addressing the inequalities in realising rights experienced by specific groups in Scotland.

“As we celebrate Human Rights Day this Saturday 10 December, the Commission hopes that Scotland’s law and policy makers will continue on a progressive journey while addressing pressing concerns to ensure that everyone in Scotland is able to access and enjoy all of their human rights.”


For interview and other media requests, please contact Kirsty Innes or Emma Hutton or call 0131 244 3550.

Notes to Editors

1. The Scottish Human Rights Commission is Scotland’s National Human Rights Institution with a statutory mandate to promote and protect human rights for everyone in Scotland. The Commission is an internationally recognised Human Rights Institution with A-status accreditation within the United Nations system.

2. The Universal Periodic Review is a process where Member States of the UN assess each other’s progress on human rights. The UN Human Rights Council then makes a series of recommendations to the government of the country being assessed.

3. The UK will be formally reviewed by the Universal Periodic Review working group in May and the outcome published on 9 May 2017. The Scottish Human Rights Commission’s report will inform the review. The Commission will also provide comments on the working group’s recommendations to the UN Human Rights Council.

4. Download the full report submitted by the Commission.