Scotland understands the importance of human rights and the meaningful everyday impact they have on our citizens, which is why we work to ensure they’re increasingly fulfilled at home and enacted elsewhere around the world.
The importance of human rights is fundamental to Scotland’s beliefs on how people should be treated. We believe that all human beings are entitled to basic rights and freedoms, which is why we strive to create an inclusive Scotland that protects, respects, promotes and implements internationally recognised human rights.
On 10 December 1948, the United Nations General Assembly overwhelmingly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – the first proclamation of human rights ever created. In the 70 years since, countries around the world have come together on the anniversary of its introduction to celebrate this momentous declaration.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights actually holds the record as the world’s ‘most translated document’. Since its introduction, the declaration has been reproduced in an incredible 500 different languages and dialects. The document itself consists of 30 articles which layout any individual’s inalienable rights as a human, regardless of their nation, location, language, religion, ethnic origin or any other status.
As many people know and experience during their time here, Scotland has a world-renowned reputation for being a warm and open country; welcoming all people in a manner that perfectly encapsulates the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We also take great pride in our standing as a good global citizen, ensuring that we help those in need not just within our country, but also around the world.
Whether it’s our world-leading stance on LGBT+ rights, our pioneering work in the fight for gender equality, our long history of welcoming refugees and asylum seekers from all over the world who need a place of safety, or the incredible work we’re doing through our International Development Fund – Scotland fully embraces every human’s fundamental rights.
Good Global Citizenship
International Development is a key part of Scotland’s contribution to the global community and we place a great deal of importance on being a good global citizen. We firmly believe that Scotland can play a unique role in finding solutions to the common challenges facing our world today.
Although Scotland has a strong national identity, this doesn’t stop us from embracing new cultures and new people. More than 170 languages are spoken in Scotland and these languages reflect a modern and inclusive country. We value Scotland’s diverse minority ethnic communities, the contribution they make to our society and the important role they play in enriching Scotland socially, culturally, and economically.
That’s why, in December 2017, we published the Race Equality Action Plan – outlining more than 120 actions we will take to secure better outcomes for ethnic minorities in Scotland. As part of this, we allocated nearly £3 million in the last year to fund organisations who are dedicated to advancing race equality.
Another excellent example is a new collaboration with Glasgow Caledonian University. Together, they’re working to develop a process that will enable people from overseas who have migrated to Scotland to gain the correct recognition for the skills/qualifications they gained outside of Scotland. This will make it easier for those from overseas who are keen to live and work in Scotland to ensure their unique skills and achievements are recognised.
Human Rights Defenders Fellowship
This Fellowship enables human rights defenders to spend three months in Scotland, developing their skills and extending their networks in a place of safety. By sharing the skills, experience and contacts they gain, we hope that the Fellows will contribute to long term change in their home communities.
Scotland has long been a leader in the area of gender equality, but we know that there’s still a long way to go. We already boast the UK’s smallest gender pay gap and our 50/50 by 2020 initiative towards gender balance in the boardroom already enjoys the support of nearly 200 organisations – including our ruling government’s ministerial cabinet.
As well as this, we have projects in place that cover a huge range of things, including supporting women returning to work after a career break, addressing maternity and pregnancy discrimination and promoting female employment in traditionally male-dominated industries.
We’re just as dedicated to this cause on an international level, and the Scottish Scholarship Scheme for Women is a perfect example of this. The initiative aims to make higher education more accessible to underprivileged girls across Pakistan, with scholarships available in areas such as education, sustainable energy, agriculture and health sciences. This can help ensure that women are at the centre of today’s issues not only in Pakistan, but globally.
For many years now, we’ve been committed to fighting for gender equality – striving to ensure that Scotland, and the rest of the world, is a better, fairer place for women. As part of this dedication, we recently became the first country in the world to offer free period products to students at all levels of education in Scotland.
Scotland is dedicated to becoming the best place in the world for children to grow up in. We understand that parenting is one of the most important ‘jobs’ anyone can have and we have a number of initiatives in place, like our incredible Baby Box, to help families right across the country and ensure every child is given an equal start in life.
In April 2019, Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, announced Scotland’s intention to incorporate the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) into domestic law during this parliamentary session. This is just one of the ways we continue to make positive progress on children’s rights. But we’re not stopping there and we consistently deal on an issue-by-issue basis with other matters of children’s rights, including in areas such as education, youth justice, child poverty and mental health.
Another example is The Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014, which places specific duties on Scottish Ministers in relation to the UNCRC. These duties include the consideration and delivery of appropriate actions, listening to the views of children, and promoting public awareness and understanding of children’s rights, including among children themselves. The Act also places a duty on a number of public authorities to report every three years on steps they have taken to secure better or further effect of the UNCRC requirements.
In line with the 2014 Act, an Action Plan was also published in December 2018, setting out the Scotland’s planned activity to promote children’s rights from June 2018 until June 2021. The Plan was informed by input from members of the public and by engagement with children and young people.
In Scotland, we are fully committed to doing all we can to recognise and support the rights of people with mental health issues. We’re determined to tackle the stigma and discrimination that surrounds mental health, as we seek to remove the barriers that prevent mental illness sufferers from reaching their full potential.
Tackling inequality is one of our main priorities and we aim to ensure that disabled people benefit from everything we’re doing to improve the lives of the people of Scotland. We have high ambitions for the changes we want to see, and disabled people have the right to no less. We believe that a fairer Scotland can only be realised when we secure equal rights for all.
In December 2016, we published a disability action plan, which as well as including five longer term ambitions, also has 93 practical actions that Scotland will look to deliver. These actions will help take us significantly closer towards fully realising the rights of disabled people in Scotland.
One brilliant example of this is The Access to Elected Office Fund Scotland, which was set up to offer financial assistance to disabled people who are seeking elected office. Successes in this initiative were seen in the Local Government elections in 2017, when 39 people with a wide range of disabilities were supported by the Fund and an impressive 15 were elected.