Speaking out – learning the language of Human Rights

I was at a meeting this week with the SHRC to discuss SNAP. The next day I was at the CPG on HR discussing Climate Justice and yesterday I talked about SGT with SG at VQ. Yes, I've arrived, I now speak human rights!

What that means is I visited the Scottish Human Rights Commission to discuss Scotland’s first ever National Action Plan on Human Rights, attended the Cross-Party Group on Human Rights at Holyrood and visited the Scottish Government Offices at Victoria Quay to focus on our work with Scottish Gypsy Travellers. It has been a busy week.

Paul Wheelhouse, Minister for Environment Climate Change, attended the Cross-Party Group meeting to talk about Climate Justice. Put simply, Climate Justice is a recognition and response to the injustice that it is the world’s poorest communities, who have done the least to cause climate change, that are hardest hit by it.

The fact that the state of New York generates as much electricity as sub-Saharan Africa (excluding South Africa) indicates that it is carbon emissions from the developing world that have played a major role in global warming.

Professor Alan Miller, Chair of the Scottish Human Rights Commission told us that in a visit to Malawi he'd heard that “Eight per cent of the country had regular access to electricity” and that food security was at risk as “Farmers could no longer predict when to plant crops because of climate driven, fluctuating weather patterns”.

Acknowledging the First Minister, Scottish Government and Scottish technology industries' positive contribution to “the greatest human rights issue facing the world”, Professor Miller anticipated Scotland's National Action Plan for Human Rights, (scheduled for December 2013), being used to further focus Government on firm commitments.

Minister Wheelhouse went on to describe how the Scottish Government is using its world-leading Climate Justice Fund to ensure “countries can develop with the benefit of modern technologies without going through the dirty phase that boosted the world’s industrial economies such as our own”.

He went on to describe Scotland's cutting-edge technology industries working in this area and the First Minister’s efforts to highlight issues in the Climate Justice debate during missions to China and, more recently, North America. But Climate Justice issues are not confined to the international stage; we need to be looking around us. Mr Wheelhouse noted the relationship between poor social and economic outcomes for some Scots who live in poverty, in homes on the margins of existence due to flooding.

Both speakers at this meeting of the Cross-Party Group described how thinking about the issues from a human rights perspective has been instrumental in developing Scotland's climate policy.

This approach has led to trusting relationships developing between the world’s rich and poor, between business and communities, and between governments and citizens.

Putting time into thinking about the impact on people of policy and business decisions has led to world-leading innovation. In a similar way, putting time into thinking about the language of human rights might just move discussion out of academia and into Scotland's homes.

About Amnesty UK Blogs
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.
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