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Humanity

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Context[edit | edit source]

Scotland must be a place where all policy and public services support human rights, social justice, equality and well-being for its people, and whose politicians and public bodies are accountable to the people for delivering on these principles.

Scottish society has equipped itself with the right set of tools which, if used appropriately and proportionally, can facilitate the building of a fairer society for its citizens. Equality is built into the foundations of Scotland, as seen by its inclusion as a founding principle of the Scottish Parliament. Whilst work to achieve equality in gender, health and other social circumstances has progressed since the parliament’s creation in 1997, more work across all sectors of Scottish society, public, private and voluntary, is required to effectively combat inequalities and ensure a fairer and a just society for all, regardless of background.

The ambition to create an equal society is intrinsically linked to human rights. Social issues should be tackled with a human rights based approach front and centre. Solutions to issues such as homelessness, social security and poverty must have human rights embedded into their foundations. These rights expand beyond civil and political rights such as freedom of expression, the right to a fair trial, privacy and non-discrimination. They include economic, social, cultural rights and more, such as: the right to an adequate standard of living, the right to a standard of physical and mental health, to social security and work rights, as well as the right to take part in cultural life.

Policy action such as the creation of the National Performance Framework, Fairer Scotland Action Plan and the Tackling Child Poverty Action Plan, as well as the foundation of Social Security Scotland are taking this approach. Additionally, the consideration of citizen’s income pilot projects illustrates a step-change in thinking amongst the country’s policymakers. Co-design of policy frameworks with those whom the policy impacts, shows that the citizen’s voice is being incorporated and goes beyond a simple stakeholder consultation. Furthermore, this co-design approach is often guided by human rights principles which ensure dignity and respect is at the heart of decision-making.

However, whilst the acknowledgement is there from decision-makers that human rights should be the foundation of policy development, too often, in practice, services are not meeting the needs of their service users and are therefore infringing on basic human rights principles. This is down to a combination of reasons such as barriers prohibiting people from accessing services, or the level of service failing to fulfil the needs of citizens.

This is in evidence throughout Scotland, and is particularly acute in specific areas such as rural communities, or specific sectors, such as the social care support industry. This may be as a result of public bodies and local government securing or being provided with insufficient funding, with budgets unable to stretch to meet the demand of what is an ageing and growing population. This may be a result of workforce challenges related to recruitment, retention, resource and training. In conclusion, there is no one challenge which is preventing Scotland from becoming a truly human rights based, fair and equal society. The First Minister’s Advisory Group on Human Rights Leadership stated in 2018 that from a human rights perspective in Scotland, there is a demonstrable need for a greater coherence and consistency in law and policy and its subsequent implementation, to ensure that human rights are considered throughout the implementation stage. Scotland has the skills to fill this unmet need in relation to protecting and enhancing human rights, it just requires more drive and desire.

Ambitions[edit | edit source]

  • Equality - Work across all sectors of Scottish society, public, private and voluntary, is required to effectively combat inequalities and ensure a fairer and just Scottish society for all, regardless of background.
  • Rights - Social issues should be tackled with a human rights based approach front and centre. Solutions to issues such as homelessness, social security constraints and poverty must have human rights embedded into their foundations.
  • Barriers - Barriers exist throughout the country that prohibit access to services, or there is simply just not the level of service there to fulfil the needs of citizens. Institutions must be resourced and supported to ensure their policies, upon implementation, are effective in supporting human rights.

By 2030[edit | edit source]


Embedding human rights

Human rights must be embedded into the very foundations of Scots law. Taking this approach would ensure that citizens have their rights vehemently protected and upheld, given that obligations to meet them would be statutory.

The embedding of human rights into law, alongside empowering people to become human rights defenders, would support Scotland in its ambition to become a fair, just and equal society.

Transport accessibility

Universally accessible transport must be made available to all throughout Scotland. Scotland has a duty to ensure that its transport system is flexible and accessible for all of those who require it. This should involve incorporating the views of people throughout Scotland into the development of new transport systems.

Access to transport which is safe, affordable and sustainable is outlined within the SDGs. Transport inequality is a significant challenge in Scotland, and any solutions aimed at addressing this challenge must be rights based in order to ensure human rights to education, employment and health are met.

Facilitate diversity

Scotland must look to implement processes which provide universally accessible physical, technological and human infrastructure to sustain all of our people. This means that diversity should be enshrined within the foundations of decision-making.

This includes an improved focus on community planning of local services to ensure that they address users’ and not just providers’ needs. Therefore addressing issues such as isolation and loneliness, as well as the challenges of remote and rural living. Diversification of those in decision-making is crucial to ensuring inclusivity.

New approach to budgeting

A human rights based approach to budgeting, with a focus on wellbeing outcomes, should be implemented in Scotland. This would mean that resources would be distributed in a manner which puts people first. Human rights budgeting grounds budgeting decisions in five human rights principles which include universality, equity, transparency, accountability and participation.

The Scottish Government’s participation in the Wellbeing Economy Governments initiative provides hope that this is an approach that may be seen within future policy decisions.  Taking forward this human rights based approach to budgeting would help Scotland to take steps towards placing human rights at the front and centre of decision-making.