Human rights in the UK: Universal Periodic Review, 2017 – Scottish Government position

Scottish Government position statement on Scotland’s performance against key international human rights obligations.

Framework within which human rights are promoted

The Scottish Government is committed to creating a modern, inclusive Scotland which protects, respects and realises internationally recognised human rights.

Ministers have made clear their own commitment to working with the whole of Scottish society to deliver a shared vision of a Scotland where everyone can live a life of human dignity. That desire to work collaboratively includes a commitment to explore the potential benefits of further incorporation of human rights treaties into the law of Scotland.

The Scottish Government's Programme for Government ( PfG) for the current parliamentary year A Plan For Scotland: The Scottish Government's Programme For Scotland 2016-17 [14] contains an undertaking to engage directly with people and communities across the whole of Scotland to explore how to give further and better effect to the economic, social and cultural rights set out in United Nations and other international treaties. The PfG also commits to working to integrate human rights and the Sustainable Development Goals ( SDG) within Scotland's National Performance Framework ( NPF), [15] to help locate human rights at the centre of policy-making and delivery for government and public sector.

Following the Scottish Parliament General Election in May 2016, the Scottish Parliament established an Equalities and Human Rights Committee [16] . This is the first time that a Scottish parliamentary committee has included an explicit reference to human rights in its title and remit.

Impact of Brexit

Membership of the European Union ( EU) brings positive social and economic benefits. These include important fundamental rights, equality guarantees and social protections.

Scotland voted clearly and decisively for the UK to remain in the EU (62% to 38%). There was a majority for remaining within the EU in all 59 of Scotland's Westminster parliamentary constituencies.

The Scottish Government continues to believe that EU membership is the best option for Scotland. On 20 December 2016, the Scottish Government published Scotland's Place in Europe , [17] which contains proposals for mitigating the impact on Scotland of the UK's exit from the EU. It makes clear the importance of single market membership to both the UK and Scottish economy, and sets out proposals to protect Scotland's interests. It also calls for a substantial transfer of power from Westminster to Scotland in order to protect Scotland's interests, and the rights currently enjoyed by all people resident in Scotland, including non- UK EU and EEA citizens. The UK Government has declined to engage in constructive fashion with this compromise plan. It decided instead to trigger Article 50 without seeking to agree a UK-wide approach and without taking proper account of Scotland's interests.

On social protection, Scotland's Place in Europe makes clear that Scotland's interests include 'ensuring the continued protection of workers' rights and maintaining social, environmental and human rights advances.'

In a speech given on 25 July 2016, Scotland's First Minister said: "I genuinely fear that a UK government outside the single market will seek economic competitiveness through de-regulation and a race to the bottom. That would be devastating for the workers' rights and protections that we have come to take for granted." [18] The UK Prime Minister has confirmed that her aim is to reach a Brexit agreement covering a future relationship within two years.

The Scottish Parliament decided on 28 March 2017 that an independence referendum should be held in Scotland once the terms of Brexit are clear. This is essential to enable the people of Scotland to have the final say on their own future, and to do so before the UK formally ceases to be a member of the EU.


Email: David Holmes

Phone: 0300 244 4000 – Central Enquiry Unit

The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House
Regent Road

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