Four more UN treaties planned for Scots law as final UNCRC Incorporation debate imminent

Quote from Commissioner Bruce Adamson: "Children and young people should be rightly proud of the part they have played in leading the way in Scotland."

As the Scottish Parliament prepares to debate the UNCRC (Incorporation) (Scotland) Bill for the final time next week, the Scottish Government has announced plans to incorporate four more UN human rights treaties into Scots law. 

Subject to the outcome of the 2021 Scottish Parliament elections, a Human Rights Bill would incorporate treaties including: 

All these treaties apply to people regardless of the age they are, so all of them would grant additional protections to children and young people. Together, they would provide additional legislative support for some of the most serious issues facing children and young people in Scotland right now, including: 

  • Increasing levels of child poverty, 
  • Lack of access to adequate food, and 
  • Rising pressure on mental health services for children and young people. 

National Taskforce for Human Rights Leadership publishes final report 

The National Taskforce for Human Rights Leadership has also published its final report, which sets out recommendations and evidence around strengthening human rights legislation in Scotland. The report’s aim is to allow the Scottish Government to establish a statutory framework for human rights that will bring internationally recognised human rights treaties into domestic law. 

The Bill will also help to advance economic, social and cultural rights, and protect the environment, by addressing the right for everyone to have an adequate standard of living, including the right to adequate food, clothing and housing and the continuous improvement of living conditions. It will also address the right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.  

“Children and young people should be rightly proud of the part they have played” 

Commissioner Bruce Adamson said: 

“As Scotland stands on the cusp of incorporating children’s human rights into Scots law, today’s announcement that the Scottish Government is committed to introducing a further human rights bill is a vital part of its continued commitment to world-leading human rights legislation.  

“Children and young people should be rightly proud of the part they have played in leading the way in Scotland to further incorporation of human rights treaties into domestic law following their decades of campaigning to incorporate the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.  

“The treaties in the proposed bill all apply to people under 18 and just as children and young people played a significant role in the development of the UNCRC legislation, they too must be an important part of the development of the new human rights bill.  

The Human Rights Taskforce’s recommendations are strong and necessary for Scotland to take that next step towards significant culture change and the proposed bill will focus on the right to a healthy environment; strengthen protections for economic, social and cultural rights; and enhance rights for women, disabled people and Black and Minority Ethnic communities. I look forward to working alongside young human rights defenders to develop the bill into another piece of world-leading law that cements Scotland’s place as human rights leaders on the global stage.” 

What does it mean to incorporate a human rights treaty? 

When an international law is incorporated it gets written into a country’s law at a national level— a level known as domestic law

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (Incorporation) (Scotland) Bill is currently before the Scottish Parliament and will write the Convention into Scots law. 

When an international law is incorporated into Scots law, it has more power to bring about change. 

Often, this happens through cultural change. 

But this would be underpinned by the fact the law can be used in Scottish courts. 

That means that the Scottish Government could be taken to court in Scotland if it doesn’t keep its promises under incorporated legislation. 

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