No snap decisions on human rights
Scotland celebrated International Human Rights Day last week by launching the first ever plan to tackle human rights in the country – Scotland’s National Action Plan for Human Rights (SNAP). The national plan aims to kick-start a change in how rights are realised throughout Scotland.
It's taken more than four years SNAP to be developed by the Drating Group, comprising representatives from across the public and voluntary sectors, who were brought together by the Scottish Human Rights Commission (SHRC). At Amnesty Scotland we have been involved at key stages of the process and we will continue to work with colleagues to see the plan implemented.
The launch in Edinburgh commenced by an opening speech by Matt Smith from the SHRC, who paid tribute to Nelson Mandela and his outstanding contribution to the promotion of human rights and equality, not only in South Africa, but also globally.
To celebrate the occasion of the SNAP launch, SHRC commissioned an animation designed to concisely explain what human rights are and how they impact all of our daily lives. SNAP provides a roadmap which sets the country off on a journey of a progressive realisation of human rights until the point that “Scotland is a country where everyone is able to live with human dignity”.
Promoting a “human rights-based approach”, SNAP aims to achieve a better culture by raising people’s understanding of the relevance of human rights to their lives, enabling organisations to embed human rights into practice, and increasing accountability through human rights-based laws.
The action plan also considers how to improve the lives of the people of Scotland by effectively tacking injustice and exclusion; by enhancing respect, protection, and fulfilment of human rights across a wide range of areas.
Speaking at the launch, Professor Alan Miller, Chair of the SHRC, thanked his team at the Commission and all those involved in the development of SNAP for years of hard work. He also expressed his confidence about future implementation and sustainability of the action plan: “This is just the beginning of a process”, he said. “SNAP is not a traditional action plan; it is not a wish list from below or a list of tick boxes from above. It is a shared effort based on evidence and best practice.”
Tressa Burke from Glasgow Disability Alliance added: “The process has been so participatory that it has been really empowering.”
I particularly enjoyed the contribution by Council of Europe’s Human Rights Commissioner, Nils Muižnieks, who welcomed SNAP by comparing it to a light in a spreading darkness over human rights in many member states of the Council of Europe. Nils addressed major human rights challenges across Europe, such as homophobic legislation in Russia; defiance of the rulings of the European Court of Human Rights; and severe human rights crisis in migration and asylum.
Nils went on to express his concerns over the negative impact economic austerity measures have on the realisation of human rights; he spoke about the effects seen now in southern Europe: “There is much less solidarity connected with austerity”.
He concluded by praising the work of the SHRC and other organisations involved in the development of SNAP and highlighted its unique character among human rights action plans from other countries. He particularly welcomed the participatory process behind its development; SNAP’s focus on awareness raising around human rights, and the involvement of business community in the promotion of human rights.
Read all about SNAP here.
Guest blog by Jana Lopusna, our Campaigns Volunteer in Scotland
Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.