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Scotland considers bill to incorporate UN human rights treaties into law

The Scottish government began a consultation on Thursday to enshrine four core UN treaties into domestic law for the first time. The legislation is titled the Human Rights Bill, and seeks to incorporate the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD), the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).

The bill also seeks to ensure access to a clean and healthy environment, joining the growing trend of those seeking to end the global climate crisis in both Europe and the UK.

The bill is currently winding its way through the Scottish Parliament. Members are also considering whether to incorporate further international human rights treaties concerning the right to health and adequate standards of living into Scottish law.

Reflecting on the move, Social Justice Secretary Anne Somerville said, “Human rights…belong to everyone. Our ambitious proposals will protect and promote these rights in every aspect of life in Scotland…and ensure they apply equally across society.”

At present, Scottish civil and political rights are already protected through the UK Human Rights Act 1998 and the European Convention on Human Rights which both safeguard the UK’s international legal obligations, which at present includes Scotland—unless and until Scotland gains independence.

Thursday’s proposals arose from recommendations made by the First Minister’s Advisory Group on Human Rights Leadership (FMAG) and the National Taskforce for Human Rights Leadership. In March 2021, the taskforce made a number of recommendations to the Scottish government to establish a new human rights framework. In response, the Scottish government said it has “consistently made clear its support for the Human Rights Act.”

Currently, the UK Parliament is considering its own Bill of Rights, set to replace the Human Rights Act. The Scottish Human Rights Commission stated last year they strongly opposed the proposed bill and its “deeply regressive” provisions.

The Human Rights Bill consultation will run for 16 weeks, closing on October 5, 2023.

Article: Scotland considers bill to incorporate UN human rights treaties into law

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