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Legal skills and debates in Scotland
Legal skills and debates in Scotland

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5  Human rights in Scotland: a leading light

The Scottish Government has a clear commitment to human rights which underpins the agenda for dignity, fairness and equality within Scottish society. Box 6 outlines this commitment.

Box 6 Scottish Government statement on human rights in Scotland

The Scottish Government is committed to creating a modern, inclusive Scotland which protects, respects and realises internationally recognised human rights. We strongly believe in and subscribe to the principles laid out in the European Convention on Human Rights.

Human rights are firmly entrenched at the heart of Scotland's existing constitutional, legal and institutional structures. Section 57(1) of the Scotland Act 1998 enshrines the ECHR as a fundamental standard for the actions of government and all Scottish legislation. The HRA 1998 ensures that every other public authority in Scotland is also obliged to act compatibly with the Convention.

Scotland's devolved institutions have a key role in implementing and upholding human rights standards. In those areas where the Scottish Government has competence, Scotland takes a distinctive approach, in keeping with the importance we have long attached to human dignity, equality and fairness and the pursuit of social justice.

The National Action Plan for Human Rights (SNAP) launched on International Human Rights Day in 10 December 2013 is a clear demonstration of this commitment.

SNAP was the first national action plan for human rights in any part of the UK. It considered experiences of countries all over the world and received guidance from the UN and the Council of Europe. It was an evidence-based action plan setting out outcomes and priorities, initially for the period 2013–2017. During that time SNAP coordinated action by a wide range of public bodies and voluntary organisations. Work is now underway on Scotland’s second National Action Plan for Human Rights, SNAP 2.

The logo of the Scottish National Action Plan
Figure 6The logo of the Scottish National Action Plan

The commitment to respecting and developing human rights as a cornerstone of the culture of Scotland (not just the legal culture) is clear as Parliament, government, other public bodies, charities and the private sector all work towards achieving the vision of a Scotland where everyone can live with human dignity, where social justice, equality and empowerment are the hallmarks of our society.

You should now watch the following video, which explores the national action plan for Scotland a little further.

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Video 4 Scottish National Action Plan for Human Rights
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Should you wish to learn more about SNAP, or read the plans for SNAP and SNAP 2, information can be found at [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)]