Human Rights Bill Governance and Engagement Advisory Board minutes: May 2022

Minutes from the meeting of the Advisory Board on 19 May 2022.

Attendees and apologies


  • Cristina McKelvie MSP
  • Alan Miller
  • Andy Sirel
  • Catherine Murphy
  • Danny Boyle
  • Eileen Cawley
  • Eleanor Sanders-White
  • Heather Fisken
  • Jatin Haria
  • Juliet Harris
  • Kenny Stewart
  • Luis Felipe Yanes
  • Lisa Borthwick
  • Mark Hazelwood
  • Mhairi Snowden
  • Oonagh Brown
  • Paul Traynor
  • Paula Preston
  • Rebecca McGregor
  • Shivali Fifield
  • Susie Fitton


  • Ashleigh Simpson
  • Gary Christie
  • Heather Fisken
  • Kavita Chetty
  • Lorraine Cook
  • Lynn Welsh
  • Mary Brennan
  • Tim Hopkins

Items and actions

Welcome and introductions

The Minister called the meeting to order, noted apologies and welcomed Catherine Murphy who has replaced Eilidh Dickson as Engenders representative on the Advisory Board.

The Minister outlined the agenda, provided a short update on the Scottish Covid Inquiry and the Scottish Government’s position on the UK Government’s proposed reforms to the Human Rights Act.

Bill updates

The Minister highlighted the stakeholder engagement undertaken by the Bill team in recent months, ensuring the Bill process continues to be as participative as possible. The Minister expressed that she is keen for the momentum to continue as the proposed introduction date draws closer.

Louise Halpin provided members with a further update on progress made by the Bill Team. This included considerations of where the Bill Team have got to on the different methods of incorporation, the complexities surrounding incorporation and recent discussions of the Executive Board at their April meeting.

Mhairi Snowden and Oonagh Brown contributed updates on the Lived Experience Board work including the progress to date and the next steps as the work develops. It was highlighted that the Human Rights Consortium Scotland led Lived Experience Board had now published a report of its first block.

Members underlined the importance of the Lived Experience work and discussed ways to link this forum with the Advisory Board. It was noted officials would look at ways to build in a process for presenting feedback to the Lived Experience Board members as the work develops.

The Human Right to a Healthy Environment

The Minister introduced Shivali Fifield from Environmental Rights Centre for Scotland (ERCS) to provide members with a presentation on the Human Right to a Healthy Environment. The presentation highlighted the procedural and substantive elements and the current context of environmental rights in Scotland. Case studies and examples were also delivered to consider.

Shivali outlined the interdependencies between a healthy environment and human rights obligations. This included the impact an environment can impact on health and an adequate standard of living. The disproportionate impacts of environment on some groups in society were also outlined to draw out links to other rights the Human Rights Bill will seek to incorporate.

Members were provided with a paper containing key questions prior to the meeting and spent time discussing these as a group. Themes expressed included the importance of considering intersectionality and links to other aspects of the Human Rights Bill, whether some environmental rights can be achieved quickly or could be progressively realised and how to ensure rights contained within the Bill can be enforceable.

Other key themes included obligations on private actors and possible conflicts between environmental and other rights. The PANEL principles were noted as a possible method to ensure there are no unintended consequences of strengthening environmental protections.


The Minister introduced Elisabeth Campbell to provide an update and discuss the upcoming Human Rights Bill consultation. Elisabeth outlined the consultation approach and themes to members, with it highlighted that dialogue will continue with members via correspondence as the Bill Team continue to develop the consultation document.

The Minister emphasised the importance of the consultation document being accessible for all, so it can gather a wide range of views from as many people and organisations as possible. Members were supportive of taking time to ensure the consultation document is done right, ensuring it is manageable for all and clear that respondents should be made aware they are under no obligation to answer every question contained within the document.

Timings for the consultation were noted with it stressed this will be subject to the usual Cabinet clearance processes and other government business.

Forward look

Members agreed to send any recommendations of meeting topics to officials so these can be planned into upcoming meetings of the Advisory Board.


The Minister explained the Deputy First Minister would be making a statement on Tuesday 24 May to update Parliament on where the Scottish Government have reached in its consideration of the Supreme Court judgment on the UNCRC Bill. It was agreed a discussion on the implications for the Human Rights would be planned for a future meeting of the Advisory Board.

The Scottish Human Rights Commission noted they would be undertaking a capacity building event in June and invitations to Advisory Board members would follow shortly.

The Minister thanked members for their contributions and advised the next meeting of the Advisory Board is planned for July 2022.

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