Publication - Corporate report

Universal periodic review of human rights in the United Kingdom 2017: response to recommendations

Published: 8 Dec 2017
Justice Directorate
Part of:
Equality and rights, Law and order

The Scottish Government response to recommendations from the third Universal Periodic Review of the UK's overall human rights record in May 2017.

Universal periodic review of human rights in the United Kingdom 2017: response to recommendations
9. Global Cooperation

9. Global Cooperation

“ The UN’s Sustainable Development Goals offer a vision of the world that I believe people in Scotland share. From ending poverty and hunger; securing education and health services; combating inequality and achieving gender equality, the aims set out by the UN form an agenda for tacking some of the world’s greatest problems.”

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon

9.1 Environmental protection [340]

UPR recommendations [341]

  • Adopt a rights-based approach to the forthcoming emissions reduction plan.
  • Place children’s rights at the centre of climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies by mainstreaming child-sensitive risk and vulnerability reduction strategies into the National Adaptation Programme.

Scotland is a world-leader in tackling climate change, with sustained progress against ambitious statutory targets. Recent statistics show Scotland is well on track to meet its world-leading 2020 target of a 42% reduction (on 1990 figures) in greenhouse gas ( GHG) emissions, with a 41% reduction as at 2015. Proposals for a new Climate Change Bill to set even more ambitious targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in response to the international Paris Agreement have already been announced.

In order to achieve future targets it has been acknowledged that the whole economy must work together. In January 2017 the Scottish Government laid a draft climate change plan before parliament. It offers a Scotland-wide approach to achieving GHG reduction goals up to 2032 and takes account of potential wider co-benefits and adverse side effects of climate policies, for example taking action to reduce greenhouse gases can lead to improvements in life expectancy as a result of cleaner air. The Scottish Government is collaborating on a research impact project on domestic climate justice, involving policymakers from key sectors, including built environment, energy, and agriculture and related land use. On climate adaptation, the Scottish Government has published a study on disadvantage and flooding, one of Scotland’s main climate risks, and has set aside £50,000 funding in 2017-18 for further initiatives on domestic climate justice.

Although GHG emissions are inherent in food production, work continues on minimising any avoidable emissions, allowing for a reduction in the emissions intensity of the food that is produced in order to achieve a sustainable and secure food source for future generations.

The 2017-18 PfG contains a commitment to establish a Just Transition Commission to advise the Scottish Ministers on adjusting to a more resource-efficient and sustainable economic model in a fair way, which will help to tackle inequality and poverty, and promote a fair and inclusive jobs market.

The Scottish Government recognises the issue of intergenerational fairness and its Letter of Cooperation with the Government of California (signed on 3 April 2017) says that failing to take swift action to combat climate change will cost future generations dearly. The new Climate Change Bill will be impact assessed using the established CRWIA process to ensure it will respect, protect and fulfil children’s rights.

Scotland’s first national air quality strategy, Cleaner Air for Scotland – The Road to a Healthier Future [342] (November 2015), sets out intended action up until 2020. Levels of the main air pollutants have declined significantly over the last three decades, through major reductions in industrial pollution and improvements in vehicle technology and fuel quality. Between 2007 and 2014, nitrogen oxides have decreased by 39%, fine particulate matter by 2% and sulphur dioxide by 56%. Scotland has set more stringent air quality targets than the rest of the UK, and is the first country in Europe to legislate for particulate matter 2.5 – a pollutant of special concern for human health. The Scottish Government has announced plans to introduce Low Emission Zones into Scotland’s four biggest cities between 2018 and 2020, and into all other Air Quality Management Areas by 2023. In addition, Scottish Planning Policy is clear that air quality can be a consideration in planning policies and decisions.

The Scottish Government is also championing climate justice globally, which aims to avoid the worst impacts of climate change falling on the poor and vulnerable, including women and children. The innovative international Climate Justice Fund will distribute £21 million between 2012 and 2021, and has already supported 11 adaptation projects in Sub-Saharan Africa including rights-based approaches to water access.

9.2 International development [343]

Respect for human rights is embedded in the Scotland’s International Framework, [344] which sets out the Scottish Government’s internationalisation agenda and objectives.

The Scottish Government’s International Development Fund focuses on working in partnership to achieve real and tangible outcomes on the ground. It does not provide any direct funding to governments.

As of 1 October 2017, the Scottish Government’s Zambia and Rwanda Development Programmes [345] are supporting a number of projects which promote human rights.

In Zambia these include a community ear and hearing care project which assists and rehabilitates people with disabling hearing loss ( CBM UK) and a project to increase the numbers of young people involved in the production of sustainable food resulting in increased food security (Gaia Education).

In Rwanda the Scottish Government is funding projects which will improve outcomes, economic resilience and involvement in community decisions for disabled people ( CBM UK), improve health and sanitation in vulnerable communities and schools (WaterAid), and improve sexual and reproductive health rights for victims of gender based violence (Oxfam).

Between 2015 and 2018, the Scottish Government is funding twenty projects in Malawi, worth a combined value of £9,245,384. [346] Thematic priorities are health, education, civic governance, sustainable economic development and renewable energy. Examples of specific projects include:

  • using a human rights approach to maternity care
  • building capacity of health professionals to provide a national eye care service for children and for people of all ages with diabetes
  • improving health in the areas of malaria, maternal health and AIDS
  • reducing hunger and promoting access and participation in primary education through the provision of a daily school meal
  • improving learning and teaching and leadership of Malawian staff and young people
  • providing micro-business owners, particularly women, with access to financial services and training in financial literacy and business development skills

In Pakistan, inspired by Malala Yousafzai, the Scottish Government is funding scholarships to support young women to go to university and children to attend school - to date over 400 women and 3,000 children have benefited. The FM has announced a further £650,000 to continue the Scholarships schemes for another 2 years (2017-19). Among other things, this will help more Pakistani women study subjects like science, technology engineering and maths – areas that are a priority for Pakistan but where women are underrepresented. It will also help even more children, with a particular focus on supporting children with disabilities.

9.3 Sustainable Development Goals

Scotland was one of the first nations to state its strong political support for the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals ( SDGs), and has been clear that the goals identified apply in a domestic context as well as on a global scale.

The Scottish Government is committed to achieving the SDG outcomes by 2030 and is currently working to integrate human rights and the SDGs within our National Performance Framework ( NPF). This will locate human rights, equality and sustainable development at the centre of policy-making and ensure that both government and the wider public sector place an increasing emphasis on delivering against international obligations.

The SDGs align closely with Scotland’s well-established aims and ambitions in areas such as tackling inequality, ensuring access to high quality education and healthcare, and in promoting gender equality. The SDGs offer a vision of the world which is shared not only by the Scottish Government but also by wider Scottish society and they further underline the existence of a common agenda focused on tackling critically important human rights and equality challenges both at home and abroad.