Universal Periodic Review 2022: Scottish Government Position Statement

This position statement sets out the action we've taken in devolved areas since 2017 to respect, protect, and fulfil the human rights of everyone in Scotland.

14. Culture and Technology

According to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, everyone has the right to “participate freely in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits”[525]. The protection and promotion of culture is an important human rights issue that is central to safeguarding language, heritage, the media industry, and pluralism[526].

Culture, creativity, technology and a rich, diverse heritage sit at the heart of Scottish life and play a critical role in the economy, communities, and almost everything we do. The Scottish Government is therefore fully committed to fulfilling the cultural rights set out in treaties such as the ICESCR and the Framework Convention on the Protection of National Minorities, and since the start of the last UPR round has contributed to international monitoring activity on the UK’s compliance with these obligations (see Annex A).

A) Culture Strategy for Scotland

A Culture Strategy for Scotland[527] was published in February 2020 and is centred on a vision which recognises the intrinsic value of culture and the power of culture to inspire, enrich and transform people’s lives. The vision for culture in Scotland is underpinned by three ambitions: strengthening culture, transforming through culture, and empowering through culture. The culture strategy recognises and values creative people, organisations and businesses for their unique and vital contribution to society and the economy.

We have asked Creative Scotland to commission an independent report into fair work in the culture sector. This is due to be published on the Creative Scotland website shortly along with a fair recruitment guide and a tool kit for the sector.

B) Support for Culture Recovery

Since the beginning of the pandemic the Scottish Government has announced £256 million of support to the culture, creative, heritage and events sectors. The Scottish Government has provided £60.8 million to support the culture, creative and heritage sectors as a result of the Omicron restrictions and in their recovery from the pandemic.

The aims and ambitions of A Culture Strategy for Scotland[528] remain relevant and important. However, we recognise that the landscape has changed significantly for the sector since then. On that basis, we are developing an updated and refreshed Action Plan, setting out the work-streams that will be taken forward to support recovery and renewal, to deliver on the Strategy’s vision and guiding principles.

C) Scotland’s Museums

Following the passage in June 2020 of an amendment to a motion in the Scottish Parliament stating that Scotland should “establish a slavery museum to address our historic links to the slave trade”[529], the Programme for Government 2020-2021[530] committed the Scottish Government to work with race equality stakeholders and the museum sector to sponsor an independent expert group to make recommendations on how Scotland’s existing and future museum collections can better recognise and represent a more accurate portrayal of Scotland’s colonial and slavery history.

The Scottish Government therefore commissioned Museums and Galleries Scotland to coordinate the Empire Slavery and Scotland’s Museums: Addressing Our Colonial Legacy project[531], which formed an expert group led by Sir Geoff Palmer to conceive and deliver recommendations concerning our hidden past, and to advise on the scope and form that a museum should take.

The group led a national consultation from August to December 2021 in collaboration with CRER[532] and Glasgow Life[533] to establish the needs of communities that experience racism, the museums and galleries workforce, and the wider public. This project was designed to take an accessible and human rights-based approach, and advice from SHRC informed the project’s governance, engagement, evidence-gathering, and reporting processes. The Steering Group and project team agreed that the voices of people from communities who have been negatively impacted by the structural forms of discrimination and racism should be prioritised and amplified through the project.

In June 2022, the project delivered their recommendations to the Scottish Government[534]. The Scottish Government will shortly respond to these recommendations and outline how it will work with the museums, equalities and education sectors to take forward actions in response to the report.

In September 2022, at an event to commemorate 75 years of India’s independence, the Minister for Culture, Europe and International Development welcomed the decision of Glasgow Life Museums and Glasgow City Council to repatriate specific artefacts from Glasgow’s museums to India.

D) Gaelic and Scots

There is a legislative framework in place to ensure that those who wish to use the Gaelic and Scots languages are afforded the opportunity to do so, supported by formal guidance. The Gaelic Language (Scotland) Act 2005[535] was commenced in February 2006 and contains a number of statutory provisions designed to secure the status of Gaelic in Scotland, giving the Gaelic language equal respect to English. In particular, it established a public body, Bòrd na Gàidhlig[536], to promote Gaelic issues, it requires the preparation of a National Plan for Gaelic[537], and it empowers Bòrd na Gàidhlig to require public bodies in Scotland to prepare their own statutory Gaelic Language Plans setting out how they will promote the use of Gaelic.

Bòrd na Gàidhlig prepared a National Plan for Gaelic under the terms of the 2005 Act[538]. The current National Plan is being renewed with the Bòrd now considering responses to a period of consultation. The National Plan for Gaelic will set out a comprehensive overview of the development needs of Gaelic and will act as a blueprint for all those bodies in Scotland which have a role to play in Gaelic development. Bòrd na Gàidhlig also prepared formal guidance under the 2005 Act to assist public bodies in the preparation of statutory Gaelic Language Plans[539]. This guidance is being renewed and will go out for further consultation during 2022. The Scottish Government’s own Gaelic Language Plan for 2022-2027[540] was approved by Bòrd na Gàidhlig in September 2022.

The Scottish Government recognises, respects and celebrates the Scots language as an integral part of our cultural heritage. Scots is a living language and is still widely spoken across Scotland. We have grown our support for Scots language bodies and doubled the budget to circa £520,000 in 2021-2022. This has allowed the development of Scots educational support and resources, through bodies such as Scots Hoose[541], which allow teachers and young people to access the learning they want.

In September 2015, the Scottish Government published a Scots Language Policy[542]. The policy sets out the Scottish Government’s position on Scots, our aims for the language, and the practical steps we will take towards fulfilling these aims. As part of our 2015 policy, Education Scotland also produced a number of practical steps that they would take on behalf of the language within their remit. This Policy has been refreshed and is being prepared for consultation over the course of 2022-2023.

The Scottish Government is working with parents and Local Authorities to ensure young people have the choice to access Gaelic education. We have increased the capital budget to £4 million and maintained the grant of £4.82 million available to Local Authorities to help deliver expansion and new provision. In addition, we are working with the General Teaching Council Scotland[543], Education Scotland[544], the Scottish Qualification Authority[545] and Storlann[546] (the Gaelic resources body) to ensure practitioners are supported and educational materials are available to the sector.

All local authorities with Gaelic Language Plans have commitments to support Gaelic Language Education in their area. Around 30 Local Authorities in Scotland now have Plans in various forms of development. There has been a growing interest in Scots Language education and the Scottish Government now core funds Scots Hoose and the Scots Language Centre to support learners of the language.

The Scottish Government is committed to supporting the Gaelic and Scots language communities by ensuring that their culture and heritage is supported. We continue to fund a range of cultural organisations and seek new opportunities to encourage the languages to be used by young people. We support both the [547] and Doric Film Festival[548] projects, which afford young people the opportunity to gain media skills through their chosen language and create new films. Both have a competitive basis with all involved being invited to attend awards ceremonies held in Gaelic or Scots. These events are helping young people engage with the language while understanding their culture. In addition, we have funded Kilted Otter/Abertay University to deliver the first Gaelic Games Jam[549]. This event encouraged participants from across the world to design new games with Gaelic in mind. This has been successful and we are working with Kilted Otter on a follow up exercise this year.

The Scottish Government also recognises the importance of traditional heritage and what it can do in supporting local communities. For that reason we have invested in historical societies across the Isle of Lewis. These societies not only keep the history and traditions alive but also act as a focal point for communities to meet and use the languages.

Kist of Riches/Tobar an Dualchais is a digitisation and education project based at the Gaelic college at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig[550]. This project not only preserves Gaelic and Scots recordings from across Scotland but is a major source for educational research for schools and researchers. It also allows a wider access for the community to engage with the materials available.

Gaelic and Scots both featured in the 2022 Census and this information will help us to better identify and target resource to help the languages.

E) Freedom of the Press

A free, vibrant, and independent press is the bedrock of a functioning democracy. The Scottish Government is committed to playing our part to ensure it is maintained.

Article 10 of the ECHR sets out the right to freedom of expression, a vital democratic right that the Scottish Government is committed to uphold. This right is of particular importance to journalists, who must have the freedom to criticise the government and public institutions in order to hold them to account, and to publish material they deem to be in the public interest. At the same time, we remain committed to ensuring that the practices which led to the Leveson Inquiry[551] in the first place do not happen again, and we believe that all individuals should have the ability to seek redress when they feel they have been the victim of press malpractice.

The Scottish Government believes that the regulation of the press should be independent from government, and wants independent self-regulation of the press to be maintained. The Royal Charter on Independent Self-Regulation of the Press[552] was agreed by the Scottish and UK Governments in 2013. As regulation of the press is devolved, section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013[553], which incentivises members of the press to sign up to a State-approved regulator, does not apply under Scots law. The Scottish Government has no plans to introduce statutory measures to incentivise participation in the regulatory system as we believe it poses a potential threat to freedom of the press.

F) Technology and Ethics

In 2020, the Scottish Government and COSLA made a commitment to work together to deliver a refreshed digital strategy for Scotland – a shared vision of a modern, digital and collaborative government, designed around people. Subsequently published in March 2021, A Changing Nation: How Scotland Will Thrive in a Digital World[554] set out a vision of an ethical digital nation, in which we aim to build trust that the technologies we use are designed with integrity, benefit the public, are transparent, and use a human rights-based approach.

We will do this through open dialogue with the public, as well as with experts and the wider digital sector. We will make sure that all of our approaches to establishing an ethical digital nation balance digital rights with the responsibility at both an individual and government level to be accountable for our actions through independent scrutiny. This will ensure public benefit, rather than commercial value, is our driving force and that actions taken are transparent and outcomes are clearly established.

In March 2021, the Scottish Government also launched its Artificial Intelligence Strategy[555] which aims to make Scotland a leader in the development and use of trustworthy, ethical and inclusive artificial intelligence (“AI”). The implementation of this strategy will be guided by the OECD’s Five Complementary Values-Based Principles for the Responsible Stewardship of Trustworthy AI[556] and UNICEF’s Policy Guidance on AI for Children[557] which draws on the UNCRC. The Scottish Government is currently designing tools and processes to ensure public accountability of the Scottish public sector’s use of AI. Since submitting a response to the European Commission’s White Paper on Artificial Intelligence in June 2020[558], the Scottish Government has continued to engage with international efforts to regulate AI, and is currently contributing to the UK Government’s input into the Council of Europe’s draft AI framework.

The Scottish Government believe that the safeguarding of privacy rights goes hand-in-hand with entrepreneurial data innovation. Trust is the foundation on which we will build a digital ethical nation, where citizens are engaged in designing polices and services, their rights are protected, and businesses are empowered to innovate with data and digital technologies in transparent, ethical and inclusive ways.


Email: ceu@gov.scot

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