News In Focus
Scottish Human Rights Commission recognised at UN
Scotland has been accredited to join the United Nations (UN) human rights system for the first time.
The Scottish Human Rights Commission has achieved "Grade A" status – the highest level of accreditation from the UN. Reaching the grade requires the Commission to meet criteria regarding powers, security of tenure, independence from Government and other measures.
The Commission will now be able to report directly to the UN on human rights issues such as the rights of older people, health, business, climate change and human rights. The Commission will also make contributions to the Human Rights Council, and will work with other independent commissions from around the world.
Sixty seven countries have independent commissions holding Grade A recognition. Commission chair, Professor Alan Miller, said: “Gaining Grade A status means the Commission can take the views and experiences of the people of Scotland to the heart of the United Nations, sharing our expertise and learning from other countries.”
First Minister Alex Salmond said: “Respect for human rights is integral to our vision for a modern, inclusive Scotland. The Scottish Human Rights Commission, as a strong independent voice promoting human rights, has an important part to play in helping to achieve that vision. The Scottish Government greatly values the work of the Commission, and I am delighted that it has received this wider recognition on the international stage.”
Navi Pillay, the United Nations High Commissioner on Human Rights said:
“National Human Rights Institutions are an internationally supported system of official institutions that work independently from governments, and play a key role in protecting and promoting human rights in their countries. Along with NGOs, they are in many ways the unsung heroes of the international human rights system, and play a vital role in keeping governments on track when it comes to implementing international standards at the national level.
"They can, and should, play a role in advancing all aspects of the rule of law, including with regard to the judiciary, law enforcement agencies and the correctional system.”
Michael Moore, Secretary of State for Scotland, said: “This vote of confidence from the international community shows that the Commission is playing its part on a global stage. “The Scottish Human Rights Commission will be taking the experience of human rights in Scotland to the rest of the world, and I congratulate them on gaining this international mark of recognition."
The Commission is already to host a major conference, the ICC Biennial, at the Scottish Parliament in October on the theme of business and human rights. Representatives from around 100 countries will attend.