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Human Rights in Scotland – there is work to be done

The North Star is a direction of travel, not a destination.

It is an exciting time in terms of Human Rights in Scotland.

Just over a year ago, March 16th 2021, the Scottish Parliament voted, unanimously, to incorporate the United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). Subsequently, the Supreme Court decided that 4 sections of the Bill fell outside the devolved legislative competence of the Scottish Parliament. A bump in the road indeed, however we should still recognise the bold steps taken to respect, protect and fulfil the rights of children and young people in Scotland.

Yes, there is work to be done.

The Scottish Government pledged to introduce a Bill of Rights, incorporating 4 additional International Human Rights Conventions into Scots law, during this parliamentary session (2021-2025).

  • The International Covenant for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) – this includes things like the right to adequate housing, the right to food, the right to the highest attainable level of physical and mental health
  • The Convention for the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW)
  • The International Convention for the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD)
  • The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)

This will further enhance the ability to honour and respect the rights and freedoms of our fellow citizens.

There is more work to be done.

A Leadership Panel composed of rights holders and representatives from Scottish civil society and duty bearer organisations are working in preparation for the launch of the second Scottish National Action Plan for Human Rights (SNAP 2).

Still more work to be done.

All these activities provide the formal structure, the skeleton as it were, for the development of human rights in Scotland.

The embodiment of human rights is found elsewhere, within us and our understanding and use of rights language and thinking in our day to day lives and activities, in our homes, in our schools, our workplaces and our communities.

So, we have all have work to do.

We can seize the opportunity SCLD Learning Disability Week’s focus on human rights to commit to:

  • Growing and sharing our knowledge and understanding of human rights.
  • Using the language of human rights and international conventions in our discussions and debates.
  • Accessing and sharing accessible information so that more of the people we know, love and care about understand their rights.

For, as Eleanor Roosevelt said,
“without concerted citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world.”

Sam Smith (C-Change CEO)

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