Scotland’s record in implementing internationally-recognised human rights was examined last year by the UN Human Rights Council as part of its Universal Periodic Review of the UK’s overall human rights record.
The Universal Periodic Review (“UPR”) is one of the principal ways the UN holds individual states to account for their implementation of international human rights standards. It is a cyclical process in which all UN Member States are able to participate.
The recommendations issued by the UN Human Rights Council emerge from a peer-review of performance, and draw on reports submitted by National Human Rights Institutions and civil society campaigners. They are invaluable in identifying opportunities to extend existing good practice and they provide a checklist of areas in which potential improvements can be made.
It therefore gives me great pleasure to be able to respond to the recommendations which emerged from the November 2022 review. In doing so, this response builds on the Scottish Government’s UPR position statement published in October 2022.
As Scotland’s national devolved government, we welcome international scrutiny of our human rights record. This response provides an update on actions taken by the Scottish Government since the UPR interactive dialogue as well as the forward-looking next steps, key milestones and indicators that will demonstrate further progress in delivering against our international obligations.
Since the UPR examination last year, the need to ensure international human rights are respected, protected and fulfilled has become even more urgent. The war in Ukraine, worsening repression in Russia and China, the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza and far too many other human rights abuses around the globe have underlined the pressing need for coherent international action. In a domestic context, within Scotland, socio-economic challenges such as the cost of living crisis have further highlighted the necessity for human rights to be embedded at the heart of public policy-making and service delivery.
As the Minister for Equalities, Migration and Refugees with shared responsibility for human rights policy, I am pleased that the Scottish Government continues to engage with a wide variety of international mechanisms, working in close co-operation with the UK Government.
Alongside the UPR, this work has included reporting and monitoring activity under the UN Convention Against Torture (“UNCAT”), responses to requests for information from the International Labour Organisation (“ILO”) and our continuing work in preparation for forthcoming performance reviews under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (“ICESCR”).
This response to the UPR recommendations also comes at a time of huge importance for the realisation of human rights in Scotland. The Scottish Government is developing a new Human Rights Bill, to be introduced in the current parliamentary session.
The Bill will break new ground in a UK context by incorporating four human rights treaties into Scots Law, and recognising and including the right to a healthy environment, within the limits of devolved competence. We also remain committed to being the first nation in the UK to incorporate the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (“UNCRC”) into domestic law. On 7 December 2023, the Scottish Parliament reconsidered the UNCRC (Incorporation) (Scotland) Bill and unanimously passed an amended version of the Bill. Subject to Royal Assent it is hoped to commence the Bill by the middle of 2024.
I believe that it is essential for the Scottish Government to lead the way with such initiatives, in order to stand proud as a nation that respects, protects and fulfils human rights for all.
I am delighted to be able to present the Scottish Government’s formal response to the UPR List of Recommendations issued by the UN Human Rights Council.
Minister for Equalities, Migration and Refugees
There is a problem
Thanks for your feedback