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Human Rights Leadership

Good news on human rights delivery in Scotland as we are moving from passive compliance to active and evidenced delivery.

Within the Scottish Government a ‘Human Rights Outreach & Improvement Team’ has been established.  One of its first actions was delivery of a ‘Human Rights Leadership Event’ on 20th February 2020 in Edinburgh targeted at the public sector. The presentations are available online. The new team adds to the work of the Equality, Human Rights and Third Sector Division in the Directorate for Local Government and Communities.

Leadership on an issue changes the culture of an organisation. Leadership can happen at any level, but everyone needs to ‘buy in’ to the ambition on human rights to make compliance happen and make rights real for people. Leaders enable improvements in performance by ensuring an organisation has the culture, knowledge, skills, policies and procedures in place to deliver. Taking the lead and working with staff teams on delivery makes the biggest, positive impact.

The Scottish Government plans to introduce a Human Rights Leadership Bill, following on from the recommendations of the First Minister’s Advisory Group on Human Rights Leadership that has now become a ‘Taskforce‘. Leaders drive change and can ensure that legal duties in the, now 22 years old, Human Rights Act are actually delivered. The Act was passed at the UK Parliament in 1998 and covers the public sector as well as private sector and Third Sector organisations when they are delivering public services and services of a public nature. Without realising it organisations already respect, protect and fulfill rights and the challenge is to capture that good practice and replicate it across an organisation.

Evidence of compliance builds public trust and enhances the reputation of organisations, so rights holders and duty bearers both win.