Behind the scenes of Scotland’s National Human Rights Action Plan: An academic perspective

This week sees the launch of ‘Realising International Human Rights: Scotland on the Global Stage’, a special issue of the International Journal of Human Rights, guest edited by Dr Jo Ferrie, Professor Rebecca Wallace, and Dr Elaine Webster.

In this post, Elaine shares the motivations behind the project and highlights some of the insights that might inform future practice.

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Participatory Research – Health and Human Rights

Peer Research

We are a group of 5 volunteers at Glasgow Homelessness Network who were given the opportunity to take part in research that tries to better understand the experiences of people who struggle to achieve equal rights of access to health services or good health because of other circumstances in their lives.

We hadn’t done much research before and we got to work with the University of Strathclyde and the ALLIANCE who provided us with a lot of training and support to build research skills, work out what questions to ask, how to ask them, and we all had ideas about where we could go to speak to people who were experiencing homelessness.

We’ve finished our training and here are some of our thoughts.

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Common ground

pam d g

For people like me who have been campaigning on social justice and human rights for many years, the First Minister’s commitment to “do even more, and be even better at incorporating human rights in Scotland” felt a bit like all our birthdays had come at once. Add the Scottish Government’s National Conversations on a Fairer and Healthier Scotland to the mix and one could be forgiven for quietly saying to fellow campaigners, ‘our work here is done’. Both signal strong assurances of a commitment to human rights and both are long awaited and much welcomed. But, as ever, complacency is not an option; warm words are not enough, or as I have recently heard it put, hope is not an action. If we are serious about a socially just Scotland, then we must do everything we can to ensure that human rights are explicitly built into everything we do, to borrow the wise words of Kofi Annan, it’s time to move from an era of declaration to and era of implementation. Simples. Well…not quite, but it’s certainly not rocket science either and with the Political wind in our sails, what better time than now to launch into action.

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Using rights and recovery to achieve transformational change in mental health


This is a critical time for mental health in Scotland. In the current climate of austerity, funding crises and shrinking services, people affected by mental health problems find it increasingly difficult to get the right kind of support when they require it.

The problems are well-known. There are serious shortcomings in the provision of accessible, acceptable, quality care and support through the life course: key elements of the right to the highest attainable standard of health. People’s right to a decent standard of living is negatively affected by the lack of joined-up and integrated thinking, which results in support systems based on silo mentalities and the interests of different sectors and services rather than the views and goals of people and communities.

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