The ALLIANCE publishes updated think piece on human rights based approaches to health and social care

Towards the end of last year, we at the Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland (the ALLIANCE) made the decision to update our ‘Being Human’ think piece, which looks at the role of human rights based approaches to health and social care in Scotland.

The thinking behind this ‘refresh’? Well, it’s fair to say that there have been some key changes and developments since it was first published in early 2013.


Its original release coincided with the development of Scotland’s first ever National Action Plan for Human Rights (SNAP), which was launched later that year. Since then, significant collective action has taken place through SNAP, right across the board to begin to tackle and overcome the barriers that stop human rights from being a reality for everyone.

Its original launch was also designed to take place as members of the Scottish Parliament geared up to debate landmark legislation to integrate health and social care services. Now ‘live’ across the country, the legislative principles and guidance issued to integrated Health and Social Care Partnerships make explicit reference to human rights.

And that’s a common theme. If you look at proposals for key policy changes like Scotland’s future Mental Health Strategy or the country’s updated National Health and Social Care Standards it is clear that human rights form a clearer part of the narrative than perhaps they did before.

We’ve had commitments from the highest levels of the Scottish Government, with the First Minister speaking of her “determination to do even more and be even better at incorporating human rights in Scotland” and an ambition “to help locate human rights at the centre of policy-making and delivery for the Government and the public sector.”

Ambitions that are welcome indeed, given that for many people in Scotland today – including people who are disabled and living with long term conditions – human rights remain unrealised. Just this week, a report published by a coalition of disability rights groups has highlighted that successive governments and other public bodies are failing to fulfil pledges they signed up to under a major international disability rights convention.

Our updated think piece acts both as a discussion of some of the progress we have made and a warning that our commitment to the fundamental principles and values enshrined in human rights laws and international obligations are being tested.

Within this climate, it highlights that SNAP is one of several national initiatives that currently provide us with exceptional opportunities to promote and mainstream human rights and the rights-based approach throughout Scotland.

Download PDF File – ‘Being Human: A human rights based approach to health and social care in Scotland

Download Word Document – ‘Being Human: A human rights based approach to health and social care in Scotland’ 

If you would like to request hard copies of the report, please do get in touch with us. Contact

Chris Doyle
Policy and Information Officer
Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland (the ALLIANCE)

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