Human rights are ours, by dint of our humanity. They exist even when they are not realised.

They provide us with an internationally recognised guide to the basics that are needed to live a good life. They articulate a floor, not the ceiling, for our aspirations for how we live, love and work together.

International human rights conventions provide a common language we can use to describe our experiences and our ambitions. They articulate a north star by which we can orient our actions, particularly in troubled times or when considering contentious issues, to ensure we are travelling in the right direction. Human rights are at their best when they are held in the hearts and minds of citizens and used to forge connections that result in positive change.

There is much happening within the human rights landscape in Scotland.

The aptly named Alliance research report,  The Opportunity is Now, explores human rights in health and social care in Scotland.

SNAP2, Scotland’s second national human rights action plan was published on the 30th March 2023. It outlines a vision where everyone can live with human dignity. It is a strategic plan with 54 recommended practical actions to be delivered by Scottish public bodies, civil society organisations and rights holders, working together.

Individuals and organisations can familiarise themselves with the SNAP2 priorities.

  • Achieve a decent standard of living.
  • Improve health, wellbeing, and the environment.
  • Enhance education and work.
  • Protect private and family life.
  • Ensure justice.
  • Learn from Covid-19
  • Realise a human rights culture.
  • Plan and support incorporation.

Organisations, big and small, national charities, and local community groups can align their purpose, work plans and aspirations to the practical actions outlined in the report. By using the language of human rights, we frame our activities in a way that connects to other’s actions locally, nationally, and internationally.

In addition, the Scottish Government recently published it’s consultation on the Human Rights Bill, which will incorporate a range of rights into Scots law for the first time, as far as possible within the limits of devolved competence.

It may feel that these are big plans and big actions that sit at a level beyond the individual. But please be assured that there are many ways to get involved in this important work.

There are many events organised to raise awareness of the consultation and to discuss the implication of the proposed bill The Scottish Human Rights Bill Consultation is OUT NOW! – Human Rights Consortium Scotland (

More than ever, we need to recognise that we can work together to change things for the better.

It is important, even amongst the many challenges that we face, that we claim these rights as our own. We do not have to wait for tectonic plates to shift or for the actions of others to release the potential of adopting a human rights based approach to our work and personal lives. We can each make a commitment to do whatever we can, individually and collectively, to contribute to realising the vision of a Scotland were everyone can live with human dignity. For as Margaret Mead, the social anthropologist said,

‘Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

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Written by: Grace Beaumont, Programme Manager - Self Management Published: 11/04/2024

Self Management Programme Manager Grace reflects on the fifteenth anniversary of Gaun Yersel, the Self Management Strategy for Scotland.

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