Why embedding human rights in Scots law matters

Written by: Lucy Mulvagh, Director of Policy and Communications, the ALLIANCE

Published: 17/02/2021

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Social care is just one aspect of people’s lives that would vastly improve if we incorporate international human rights.

Yesterday the Scottish Parliament debated the report of the Independent Review of Adult Social Care and there was almost universal support for the Review’s recommendation that equality and human rights should be at the heart of a reformed social care system.

This obvious will for a human rights based approach to social care across all political parties is extremely welcome. However, concrete action is needed for it to make a real difference in people’s lives.

While there is a foundation in current law that gives people more choice and control over their social care and Self-directed Support (SDS), this has not been enough to ensure people consistently enjoy their right to access quality, appropriate support in the right place and at the right time for them.

Social care is a means to an end – intended to help people overcome obstacles in their way to live independently and contribute to Scottish society. The Review has noted the serious and – in some cases – substantial gap between well-intentioned social care policy and the way people experience care in practice. This was certainly something that people spoke about in the ALLIANCE and SDSS My Support My Choice research project.

This is where incorporating – or embedding – international human rights into national law can help, something that the Review itself notes: “We have no doubt that the incorporation of human rights conventions would aid the direction of travel set out in this report.”

The UN Convention on the Rights of Disabled People (CRPD) is one of the most important human rights treaties for disabled people. It was designed by disabled people and is overseen by an independent committee that includes disabled members. It covers a broad range of human rights, including rights to education, work, health, and social support. The CRPD Committee has created a substantial body of guidance to help governments put the treaty into practice, but a key action has to be directly embedding the whole treaty into national law.

This is why the ALLIANCE and Inclusion Scotland have drafted a Joint Statement calling for full and direct incorporation of the CRPD. We are asking all individuals and organisations working for equality and human rights for disabled people across all Scotland’s communities to join us by signing up now and promoting this opportunity to your wider networks.

Delay is not an option. The time for action is now!


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