All human beings are entitled to basic rights and freedoms. We want to create an inclusive Scotland that protects, respects and fulfils internationally recognised human rights.




Human rights is a subject devolved to Scotland by the Scotland Act 1998. The Scottish Parliament also has competence to observe and implement international human rights treaties. We work within that legal framework.

In Scotland, civil and political rights are protected by the Human Rights Act 1998 and provisions in the Scotland Act 1998. These rights come from the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

Other rights are also recognised under international treaties which apply to Scotland. These are mainly economic, social and cultural rights. They include rights relating to employment, housing, health, education and adequate standards of living.

The European Union also guarantees the rights of people in Scotland in areas where EU law applies. These laws cover civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights.

The Scottish Ministerial Code is clear that Ministers must comply with the law, including international law and human rights treaty obligations.

Bills and legislation

Human Rights Bill

The Human Rights Bill proposes to incorporate four international treaties into Scots Law, within the limits of devolved competence. These are:

  • The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) 
  • The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW)
  • The International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD)
  • The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)

The Human Rights Bill will also seek to include and recognise the right to a healthy environment and will be designed to make sure the rights it sets out are available to everyone equally.


We consulted on proposals for a new Human Rights Bill between 15 June and 5 October 2023. Almost 400 responses were received that will be carefully analysed to help inform development of a new Human Rights Bill for Scotland. A report of the analysis will be published in due course.

Consultation documents


We continue to engage with stakeholders to develop the Bill. In addition to policy specific workshops we set up the following forums: 

More information

For more information, please contact us. 



Human Rights Strategy and Legislation Unit 
Directorate for Equality, Inclusion and Human Rights 
Scottish Government 
Area 3H North 
Victoria Quay 
EH6 6QQ 


The Human Rights Act 1998 incorporated the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) into UK law. It means that public organisations, such as the government, councils and the police, must protect and abide by human rights. If human rights have been breached, cases can be taken to UK courts.

The Scotland Act 1998 ensures that laws passed by the Scottish Parliament can be challenged and overturned by the courts if they are not compatible with rights identified in the ECHR. Scottish Government Ministers have 'no power to act' in a way that breaches these ECHR rights.

The Scottish Commission for Human Rights Act 2006 created the Scottish Human Rights Commission (SHRC). The SHRC is an independent public body that promotes and protects the human rights of everyone in Scotland.

Scotland's approach to human rights is also governed by international law. This has developed since the United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. Seven major UN human rights treaties, along with eight Council of Europe human rights treaties, currently apply to Scotland.



Telephone: 0300 244 4000 - Central Enquiry Unit

Scottish Government
Human Rights
Directorate for Equality, Inclusion and Human Rights
Victoria Quay

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