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Realising Human Rights For All

Public authorities play a crucial role in delivering the things that fulfil our human rights- housing, healthcare, a clean environment, and more. Human Rights Consortium Scotland have written to chief executives of public authorities to show their commitment to human rights. Alongside other Human Rights based organisations, we have co-signed the letter.

The full letter is available to read below:

Dear Chief Executive

Realising human rights for all

Human rights are about dignity for everyone. By placing human rights at the heart of
all we do in Scotland, we can shape decision-making, policies and practice to make
sure that everyone has what they need to live well and have their freedoms and
dignity protected.
We welcome the positive steps that Scotland has taken, and is taking, to protect and
fulfil human rights. However, as organisations that work with and for individuals and
communities whose human rights are at risk and infringed upon every day, we are
writing to urge you to prioritise actions that end human rights violations.
We highlight two significant national developments that will be important in coming
months and years:

  • Implementation of our international human rights
    Since 1998, the Human Rights Act has placed a duty on all public authorities to
    comply with human rights, including taking positive steps to protect civil and political
    rights in all that they do.
    Scotland is now on a journey to bring more of our international human rights closer
    to home. The incorporation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (the
    UNCRC) into Scots law is the most important step forward for children and young
    people’s rights. The Scottish Government’s commitment to build on this, to
    incorporate economic, social and cultural rights (ICESCR) and human rights treaties
    for particular groups (CEDAW, ICERD and UNCRPD) is very important for all those
    that we work with. Together, these treaties as part of our law in Scotland will provide
    the foundation and direction to drive a human rights culture across government and
    all public authorities. It will mean that no one will be ignored, and no one will be left
    behind. It will mean that people whose voices are often not heard are empowered to
    know and claim these human rights.
    A healthy environment underpins all of these human rights. A safe climate, clean air,
    safe water, healthy and sustainably produced food, biodiversity and non-toxic
    environments in which to live, work, study and play are essential. We know however,
    that too many of us and particularly those in communities most affected by poverty,
    live with the impacts of environmental damage contributing to health inequalities. We
    strongly welcome the Scottish Government’s commitment to also make this right to a
    healthy environment foundational in our law.

We emphasise that we do not need to wait for these laws to be passed and
commenced to be clear about our human rights – these are already set out at
an international level and have been agreed to by the UK.
We also emphasise that it is not enough to pass these laws – it is important
that public authorities now take steps to prepare to fully implement them in

This will require important actions such as closing gaps in the evidence and data
collected so that it is clear who is missing out on rights. This will require new ways of
listening to those who are most marginalised and acting on their advice. This will
mean champions for human rights in every department of every public authority,
together with every staff member being clear about what it means for them to take a
rights-based approach. Budgets, work plans, training programmes, job descriptions,
and more, will need to change to reflect human rights priorities.

  • SNAP 2 – Scotland’s second National Human Rights Action Plan
    After substantial engagement with stakeholders and communities, the second SNAP
    action plan has been published ( It contains an ambitious set
    of 54 proposed actions that need to be delivered collaboratively, with careful
    consideration about phasing and resourcing. SNAP requires active commitment and
    participation from a wide range of public authorities, as well as government, civil
    society and individual rights-holders to make it work. In the coming weeks, we know
    there will be discussion with all SNAP 2 delivery stakeholders as to priorities and
    resourcing. We urge you to demonstrate your commitment to human rights by being
    ready to engage fully in this process and in the planning and delivery of actions.
    We know that driving forward progress on human rights is no small task. We have
    copied this letter to the Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice Shirley-Anne Somerville
    MSP to highlight the need for all of the resourcing and support needed for human
    rights implementation across Scotland. We also know that fulfilling human rights
    requires all of us to play our full part. We assure you of our active support, challenge
    and engagement to make sure that this happens, and we will be looking to see the
    steps that your public authority will take to do your part in the coming weeks and
    months ahead.

Mhairi Snowden, Human Rights Consortium Scotland
Juliet Harris, Together (Scottish Alliance for Children’s Rights)
Cathy McCulloch, Children’s Parliament
Tim Hopkins, Equality Network
Vic Valentine, Scottish Trans
Maureen Martin, Edinburgh Development Group
Maggie Lennon, Bridges Programmes
Shivali Fifield, Environmental Rights Centre for Scotland
Emma Hutton, JustRight Scotland
Sam Smith, C-Change Scotland
Maria Jose Pavez Larrea, Grampian Regional Equality Council (GREC)
Agnies Tolmie, Scottish Women’s Convention
Sara Redmond, Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland (the ALLIANCE)
Alison Bavidge, Scottish Association of Social Work
Colin Lee, CEMVO Scotland
Carolyn Sawers, Corra Foundation
Jess McQuail, Just Fair
Michelle Cook, Inclusion Scotland
Jonathan Senker, VoiceAbility
Clare MacGillivray, Making Rights Real
Cc. Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice Shirley-Anne Somerville MSP

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