New national taskforce starts work on human rights

Statutory framework development will help maintain Scotland’s world-leading reputation.

A taskforce that will put human rights at the heart of legislation has met for the first time.

The National Taskforce for Human Rights Leadership will consider the recommendations of the First Minister’s Advisory Group on Human Rights Leadership.

A new statutory framework will also be developed by the taskforce to improve human rights protection for everyone in Scotland and look at finding ways to increase public participation in the process.

The taskforce is made up of members from the public sector and civil society. It is co-chaired by the Social Security and Older People Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville and Professor Alan Miller, the former chair of the Scottish Human Rights Commission and chair of the First Minister’s Advisory Group on Human Rights Leadership.

Speaking after the inaugural meeting Ms Somerville said:

“Scotland is a world leader in human rights and I would like to welcome and thank the members of the taskforce for volunteering to help keep us in that position.

“Respecting, protecting and fulfilling human rights is an international obligation at the heart of everything we do.

“Our commitment to fundamental principles of human dignity and equality will now be turned into statutory action that serves every member of our society.”

Professor Miller said:

“There is an urgent need of human rights leadership in today’s world. The leadership steps to be taken in and by Scotland are clear.

“Firstly, internationally recognised human rights belong to everyone in Scotland and must be put into our law. Secondly and as importantly, they must then be put into our everyday practice so as to improve people’s lives.

“I look forward to working with my fellow members of the taskforce and many others to help achieve this ambition and make Scotland a better country in a better world.”


First Minister’s Advisory Group on Human Rights Leadership recommendations.

Current membership of the new Human Rights Taskforce




Taskforce role

Shirley-Anne Somerville

Cabinet Secretary for Social Security and Older People

Government Co-chair

Prof Alan Miller

Former Chair of FM’s Advisory Group on Human Rights Leadership

Independent Co-chair

Christina McKelvie

Minister for Older People and Equalities

Portfolio Minister with responsibility for Human Rights

Cath Denholm

Director NHS Health Scotland, and Deputy Chair Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH)

Member representing NHS Health Scotland and SNH

Murray Hunt

Barrister specialising in Human Rights, and Legal Adviser to the All Party Parliamentary Group on the Rule of Law

Independent Member

Fiona Killen

Member Constitutional Law Sub-Committee, Law Society of Scotland, and Head of Parliamentary and Public Law Unit, Anderson Strathern

Member representing Law Society Scotland

Prof Elisa Morgera

Co-Director of Strathclyde Centre for Environmental Law and Governance

Independent Member

Nils Muižnieks

Former Commissioner for Human Rights, Council of Europe

Independent Member

Cllr Kelly Parry

Councillor and COSLA’s spokesperson for community well-being

Member representing COSLA

Alastair Pringle

National Director, Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) Scotland

Member representing EHRC Scotland

Judith Robertson

Chair, Scottish Human Rights Commission (SHRC)

Member representing SHRC

Mhairi Snowden

Co-ordinator Human Rights Consortium Scotland

Member representing the Consortium and civil society interests


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