Budgets are a key sign of a government's values. So, if human rights are not in there, what's being said is that they are not a value worth counting.

Professor Aoife Nolan

What is Human Rights Budget Work?

Taking a human rights based approach to budgeting means distributing resources in a way that puts people first. 

It involves thinking through how people's rights are impacted by the way that money is raised, allocated, and spent. Specifically, budget decisions should reflect human rights standards and the process of formulating, approving, executing, and auditing the budget should reflect human rights principles.

Why are human rights relevant to the budget?

All governments must respect, protect and fulfil human rights. The way they generate, allocate and spend money plays a key role in this.

You can't guarantee the right to vote if you don't have an effective electoral system and you can't guarantee the right to habitable, accessible, affordable and secure housing without well-regulated public and private housing sectors.

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Our Work

Report: Open Budget Survey Results for Scotland's 2017-18 Budget 

This report compares the openness of Scotland’s budgetary processes with those of 117 countries involved in the International Budget Partnership’s (IBP) latest Open Budget Survey (OBS). The report has been compiled with the support of the ALLIANCE Scotland, the University of Glasgow, Glasgow Caledonian University and the New York-based Center for Economic and Social Rights. 

Downloads and Links:


Human Rights Budget Work: What, Why and How?

A new set of briefing papers explains the "what, why and how" of using human rights to create and scrutinise Scotland's national budget.

The papers have been developed by the Scottish Human Rights Commission, the Health and Social Care ALLIANCE and a range of academic and other partners in an EU-funded Human Rights Budget Work project.


  • Human Rights Budget Work: What, Why, How? Collected Briefing Papers. [Word] [PDF]
  • Briefing Paper 1: Human Rights Budget Work. [Word] | PDF
  • Briefing Paper 2: The Context for Human Rights Budget Work in Scotland. [Word] | [PDF]
  • Briefing Paper 3: Human Rights Budgeting. [Word] | [PDF]
  • Briefing Paper 4: Human Rights Budget Scrutiny. [Word] | [PDF]
  • Briefing Paper 5: Human Rights Standards and the Budget. [Word] | [PDF]
  • Briefing Paper 6: The Budget Process and Human Rights Procedural Principles. [Word] | [PDF]


Past and Current Work

Since the Commission's EU funded project into human rights budgeting in 2018, a programme of ongoing work has been developed to better understand and support wider scrutiny of public spending decisions through a human rights lens. 

This work includes:

More Information

Our background briefing paper on human rights budgeting and budget analysis details how applying a human rights framework to the budget would add value to efforts to realise social justice in Scotland.


Scottish Parliament Budget Explorer Tool 

Further Reading and Useful Links

2018 Masterclass Presentation Slides

To find out more or discuss any aspect of this work, contact our Research Officer, Dr Alison Hosie.  

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