Building a New Scotland: Creating a modern constitution for an independent Scotland

This paper sets out the Scottish Government’s proposals for a written constitution that puts democracy, rights and equality at the heart of everything we do as an independent country.


Independence would open choices to the people of Scotland. It would be a chance to do things differently and better, but also to continue doing the things we are already good at and to build on them.

The UK's constitution has allowed the Westminster government to disregard the decisions of the people of Scotland and undermine devolution.[166]

Only independence can ensure that the people of Scotland decide who governs their nation and how.

And only independence will enable Scotland to complete its human rights journey and respect, protect and fulfil the range of internationally recognised human rights across Scotland.

The Scottish Government's proposals for an independent Scotland to have a modern, codified constitution, which derives its authority from the people of Scotland, would be a key milestone in that democratic and human rights journey.

A Constitutional Convention that would be responsible for Scotland's permanent written constitution, would ensure a participative and inclusive process by which the people of Scotland would shape their own constitution. And because this process should be open to all the people in Scotland, irrespective of how they might have voted in the referendum, the Constitutional Convention can only take place after the independence referendum.

The Scottish Government proposes that the adoption and implementation phase of the permanent constitution should be accompanied by an accessible awareness-raising campaign focusing on engagement and inclusion. The Scottish Government also believes that the permanent constitution, once drafted by the Constitutional Convention, should be confirmed in a vote by the people of Scotland.

A new constitutional settlement for Scotland, made in Scotland, would make a significant difference to the everyday life of the people of Scotland. It would enable the people of Scotland to make fundamental choices regarding how their state should be governed. It would enable us to build an independent Scotland that has democracy, human rights and equality at the heart of its foundation. Scotland would be able to continue to progress human rights and equality, without the limitations of the current devolution settlement and protected by independence from the Westminster government's attacks on devolution and human rights.

The Scottish Government believes that the process of the Constitutional Convention would provide an opportunity for the people of Scotland to engage in healthy debates about what the independent Scottish state, its institutions and core principles should be. The Scottish Government hopes that this would help lay the basis for future engagement and further build on the strong civil society that Scotland already has.

Having a highly informed and engaged population that can hold state institutions, including the Scottish Parliament and the Scottish Government, to account would play a vital part in ensuring that Scotland has a thriving modern democracy.

The Scottish Government wants to see a Scotland that is a world leader in incorporating, implementing and advancing human rights and equality. Only independence would enable Scotland to do so. As long as Scotland is a part of the UK, the people of Scotland will not have the level of constitutional protections for human rights and equality afforded to those countries that choose to embed those rights in codified constitutions. At present, the current and any future Westminster government could choose to undo any progress made in advancing human rights and equality in Scotland, including gains made under devolution.

The Scottish Government wants the people of Scotland to engage critically with our proposals and to examine how the constitution of an independent Scotland could and should work for the people of Scotland.

This paper aims to contribute to a wider conversation across Scotland about the proposals contained within it and what choices an independent Scotland should make.



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