Foreword by Professor Alan Miller,
Independent Co-Chair of the National Taskforce for Human Rights Leadership
A moment in time
This Report recognises that we have reached a moment in time for the introduction of a new human rights framework for Scotland, to improve all of our lives, our society and contribute to a better world.
Its recommendations are challenging, ambitious and need bold leadership to implement. It would be by far the biggest step taken in Scotland's human rights journey.
The recommendations are the direct outcome of broad engagement which has involved civil society and those with lived experience of the denial of their rights, public sector bodies, senior UN representatives and nationally and internationally recognised academics and experts, as well as engagement across the party political spectrum and across the UK.
This proposed new framework would for the first time put in a single place the range of internationally recognised human rights – civil, political, economic, social, cultural and environmental – which belong to everyone. Its aim is to provide full and equal access to the enjoyment of these rights and the maximum protection possible to everyone within the current constitutional arrangements. Key recommendations have been included to enable the framework to be effectively implemented, so that the rights can be made real in everyday life.
Many developments have contributed to bring us to this moment in time. From a human rights perspective, Scotland has become increasingly confident and internationalist throughout the past twenty years of devolution and the introduction of this new framework is the next step on its human rights journey.
An impetus to take this next step has been provided by Brexit, which has weakened the current framework of human rights and social protections.
An urgency to take this next step has been provided by the many lessons from the Covid crisis. It has starkly demonstrated for all countries the necessity to provide more security in people's lives through the increased protection of economic, social and environmental rights in particular, as well as the necessity to more effectively address the structural inequalities laid bare.
The Report's recommendations are very ambitious and it will take time to fulfil their potential. They will need resources and so we need to decide our priorities, use the maximum resources available and progressively realise such rights. Of course some of the challenges faced are much bigger than Scotland or any single country and so we all have a responsibility to start where we are and, in doing so, contribute to broader efforts.
The UN has called for all countries to cooperate and prioritise human rights as a vital part of all efforts to build back better from the pandemic, end interference with the natural environment which caused the pandemic and urgently address the underlying climate crisis.
This Report aims to support Scotland to rise to these challenges and take the opportunities presented at this moment of time.
I would like to sincerely thank all of my colleagues on the Taskforce, its Working Group and Academic Advisory Panel, and especially to my Co-Chair, for her consistent and clear commitment. I would also like to thank the First Minister for initiating this process and giving me the opportunity to contribute as Independent Co-Chair.
Above all, I would like to thank all of the many people who have contributed in so many ways to the preparation of this Report. These have included people from all walks of life and parts of the country and beyond. My only regret is that we were unable to meet in person and I look forward to future opportunities to do that.
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