Scotland's Global Affairs Framework

The Global Affairs Framework sets out the values and principles underpinning the Scottish Government’s international work and the basis on which the Scottish Government will prioritise its international activity.

5. Respect for human rights and the rule of law

Scotland is an inclusive nation which respects, protects and fulfils internationally recognised human rights. With our legal tradition developed over centuries, we are a country with a long history of respect for the rule of law. This is important in ensuring Scotland is a fair and just nation and because everyone is entitled to basic rights and freedoms.

Our Vision for Trade recognises the need for Scotland’s trade policy to directly address human rights. We will also continue to use our international engagement and dialogue as an opportunity to help increase respect for, and understanding of, human rights worldwide through sharing practical experience of a human rights approach to policy-making and delivery.

Respect for human rights and the rule of law are fundamental to our engagement with all states, especially those with whom we have concerns over human rights or rule of law abuses. This means balancing economic development with social justice.

We welcome international scrutiny of our human rights record and we will always engage with the United Nations and other international human rights monitoring mechanisms.

We all have the right to live in a peaceful society. We cannot have situations where aggressors take illegal action without consequences to deter them from planning further aggression. Conflict drives inequality and poverty. Too often, those who have the least suffer the most when conflict occurs. The rule of law is fundamental to international peace and security. Peaceful relations between countries, groups and people lead to more prosperous relationships so we will increase our knowledge and experience to strengthen Scotland’s peace offer.

The rule of law is essential for inclusive economic growth, sustainable development and to protect people’s rights and fundamental freedoms. International agreements, once made, should be adhered to and should be equally enforced.

We will seek out opportunities to strengthen our international justice and law enforcement relationships in order to better combat criminality in Scotland and abroad. We will focus our international partnerships with countries where we can have the greatest impact on improving human rights, and on initiatives which support the realisation of United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

We also believe in contributing to strong multilateral processes because they enable international collaboration through which we can better address international challenges and ensure our security. Our participation enables us to exchange ideas on shared priorities with others from across the globe. It also allows us to promote an ambitious agenda for sustainable development. And as our COVID-19 response in our partner countries Malawi, Zambia and Rwanda showed, by working in collaboration with international organisations we can share expertise with, and deliver crucial support to others across the globe.

Multilateral organisations provide the frameworks to promote and protect human rights, democracy, security and the rule of law globally. We will continue supporting efforts to ensure appropriate representation and diversity of input, including by the Global South and civil society, for an international system that works for all.



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