A Human Rights Bill for Scotland: consultation

The Scottish Government is gathering views to help inform how we will take forward the Human Rights Bill. The Bill will incorporate a range of economic, social and cultural rights into Scots law for the first time, as far as possible within the limits of devolved competence.

Part 3: The Rights

This part of the consultation sets out the rights considered by the Taskforce – what they are and where they have come from. This section is for illustrative purposes, to show the broad content of the treaties. Incorporation of the treaties in the Bill will be within the limits of devolved competence and that means not all of the text in the four treaties discussed below will be able to be included in the Bill, where it relates to reserved matters.

The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR)

Ratified by the UK in 1976, the ICESCR sets out the obligations on states (those countries who have signed and ratified the treaty) to guarantee the economic, social and cultural rights contained in the treaty, which should be exercised without discrimination as to race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Economic, social and cultural rights are expected to be progressively realised over time in line with a country's resource capabilities. Amongst others, the ICESCR contains the following rights:

  • The right to work and to favourable conditions of work (Art 6 & 7)
  • The right to form trade unions and to join trade unions (Art 8)
  • The right to social security (Art 9)
  • The right to an adequate standard of living (Art 11) including:
    • The right to adequate food
    • The right to clothing
    • The right to adequate housing
  • The right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health (Art 12)
  • The right to education and free primary school education (Art 13 & 14)
  • The right to take part in cultural life and enjoy the benefits of scientific progress (Art 15)

The International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD)

Ratified by the UK in 1969, the ICERD requires states to pursue by all appropriate means a policy of eliminating racial discrimination in all its forms and to promote understanding among all races.

The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW)

Ratified by the UK in 1986, the CEDAW places obligations on states aimed at eliminating discrimination against women. This includes taking all appropriate measures to ensure the full development and advancement of women for the purpose of guaranteeing them the exercise and enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms on a basis of equality with men.

The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)

Ratified by the UK in 2009, the CRPD sets out the human rights of disabled people and the obligations on states to ensure and promote the full realisation of all human rights and fundamental freedoms for all persons with disabilities without discrimination of any kind on the basis of disability.

Further Rights

The Taskforce report considers a right to a healthy environment, a right for older people, a right to participation, restating civil and political rights in the Bill, and the potential incorporation of the UN Convention against Torture (UNCAT) through the Bill. Further detail on these issues and our approach to them is set out in subsequent parts of this consultation.


Throughout the consultation, we sometimes use "equality treaties" as shorthand for when we are discussing ICERD, CEDAW and CRPD together. Economic, social and cultural rights mean the core rights within ICESCR.


Email: HumanRightsOffice@gov.scot

Back to top