Human Rights Bill: Core Implementation Working Group minutes - August 2023

Minutes from the meeting of the group on 2 August 2023.

Attendees and apologies

  • Alan Miller, University of Strathclyde
  • Alexis Camble, Convention of Scottish Local Authorities
  • Bill Stevenson, Equality and Human Rights Commission
  • Elaine Webster, University of Strathclyde
  • Jillian Matthew, Audit Scotland
  • Luis Felipe Yanes, Scottish Human Rights Commission
  • Mhairi Snowden, Human Rights Consortium Scotland
  • Miriam McKenna, Improvement Service
  • Nicole Busby, University of Glasgow
  • Rachel Grant, Scottish Courts and Tribunal Service
  • Sarah Rodger, Society of Local Authority Lawyers and Administrators in Scotland
  • Tony McGowan, Healthcare Improvement Scotland


  • George Dodds, Public Health Scotland
  • Lesley Crozier, Scottish Councils Equality Network

Items and actions


Members were welcomed to the Implementation Working Group (IWG) and introduced themselves.

Overview of Bill and scene setting broader context

The Human Rights Bill Team provided a brief overview of Scotland’s recent human rights journey including the First Minister’s Advisory Group on Human Rights and National Taskforce for Human Rights Leadership recommendations, that led to the Scottish Government’s commitment to introduce a new Human Rights Bill during the 2021-2026 parliamentary session.

It was noted the consultation on proposals for the Human Rights Bill is now live for a period of 16 weeks, closing on 5 October 2023. Accessible versions of the consultation were highlighted, in addition to the programme of engagement that includes in-person and online meetings over the coming months.

The Bill Team explained its aims for the Bill and briefly outlined considerations of duties, access to justice and implementation that have been set out in the consultation document.

Members were advised of the other groups such the advisory board, executive board and lived experience board that are supporting policy development for the Human Rights Bill. Their roles within the engagement structure were mentioned alongside the expectations of the IWG.

The complex landscape of equality and human rights in Scotland was highlighted, with members recognising that aspects of the Bill will relate to reserved matters. Members highlighted the volume of duties already expected of duty bearers and identified aligning of duties as being vital to successful implementation of the Bill.

Consideration of theory of change drivers

In developing plans for implementation, there was recognition that there should be coherence across current equality and human rights legislation and duties such as the UNCRC (Scotland) Bill, the Fairer Scotland Duty, the Public Sector Equality Duty (Scottish Specific Duties), among others.

Considerations of key drivers for change to embed equality, inclusion and human rights were outlined including strengthening leadership, ensuring capacity, enhancing capability and culture, evidence and experience and the regulatory and policy environment.

Members were supportive of the aforementioned drivers and stressed the importance of mapping current legislation to identify areas of alignment that would facilitate a streamlined, clear and accessible Bill. The importance of messaging was also noted to ensure that human rights are not viewed as an abstract concept, but as real and relatable for both rights holders and duty bearers.

The importance of learning from the UNCRC implementation work was highlighted with links to be made at relevant points in the Human Rights Bill implementation process.

Discussion of terms of reference

The IWG considered the terms of reference that were shared prior to the meeting. This included a discussion on membership, frequency of meetings and the remit of the group.

Members were positive about the terms of reference, but requested an amendment to include detail on how the IWG will involve lived experience and suggested additional members to be added to the wider group.

[The Human Rights Bill Team will be responsible for compiling short papers to reflect the comments of the Lived Experience Board, relating to the focus of each IWG session, and sharing each paper with the group members in advance of each meeting.]

Reviewing draft workplan

The Bill Team set out proposals for topics to be covered over the next two blocks of the IWG, which included conversations on the Human Rights Scheme and capacity building among other topics. A view was expressed that capacity building for duty-bearers should feature earlier in the workplan. It was noted that some topics will be visited more than once if required, and that the workplan will remain dynamic and subject to change based on needs.

Members discussed the sequencing of topics in the workplan and how to build in the views of the Lived Experience Board to each meeting. It was also noted that the frequency and duration of meetings would be kept under review.

Any other business

Details of the next IWG meeting in September will be shared shortly, and will focus on policy proposals for the Human Rights Scheme.


  • dates in diary well in advance of meeting
  • revisions to workplan based on discussion
  • consider scope for effective communications between meetings
  • arrange an in-person meeting of the IWG at some point in future
  • consider on an ongoing basis how proposals are brought to the IWG through the Bill team and/or by individual members
  • consider how to involve the following groups in the wider IWG membership
    • Private actors
    • Together
    • ADES Education
    • Social Work Scotland
Back to top