Scottish lawmakers proposed a bill Friday that would incorporate four UN human rights treaties into Scottish law, offering children greater human rights protections in domestic courts.
The bill is set to undergo parliamentary elections and would include the following UN conventions: the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESC), the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD), and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).
Adoption of the four treaties would follow passage of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) bill, which aims to combat child poverty, lack of access to basic necessities, and increasing mental health concerns. While the other four treaties apply to people of all ages, the UNCRC would act as an additional safeguard for children’s rights. The legislation would also ensure greater environmental protections and better quality of life for all citizens. The UNCRC is set to be approved next week.
The National Taskforce for Human Rights Leadership issued a recent report outlining a series of recommendations and policy objectives that Scotland can undertake to advance its human rights goals. “These recommendations from the taskforce are bold and ambitious. A multi-treaty human rights Bill of this nature, that will also contain a range of other rights on the environment, older people, and access to justice, is unprecedented and will make Scotland a world leader in human rights,” Equalities Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said in a recent statement.
Lawmakers hope that codifying international human rights standards will enable domestic courts to enforce human rights laws in Scotland to help build a stronger society. Commissioner Bruce Adamson said in a recent statement:
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.