A UN specialist on human rights is calling for Scotland to incorporate economic and social rights directly into domestic law.

Virginia Bras Gomes will tell a high-powered meeting in Edinburgh today that these rights should be enforceable in Scottish courts.

The meeting of government officials, lawyers and members of public bodies and civil society groups is being organised by the Scottish Human Rights Commission as part of a wider series of events on economic and social rights.

Speaking ahead of the event, Bras Gomes said the need to incorporate the rights into law was especially pressing because of Brexit.

“I am keen to see Scotland advance incorporation and justiciability of rights because it is the best way to realise economic, social and cultural rights for all, especially those most in need of protection by the state,” said Bras Gomes, who is chair of the United Nations committee on economic, social and cultural rights. “These rights are everyday rights that are essential for people to live in dignity in everyday life. If Scotland wishes to honour its social justice commitments, it should pursue the incorporation debate without losing momentum and make economic, social and cultural rights justiciable in Scotland’s courts. In the present context of Brexit, every day matters and every argument counts.”

Her argument is being backed by Judith Robertson, chair of the Scottish Human Rights Commission.

“As a country, we’ve signed up to the international laws that set out our economic and social rights – these include the rights to housing, food, health and social security,” said Robertson.

“It’s the Government’s responsibility to make sure these rights are realised for everyone. Putting them into Scottish law is one important way to make sure that happens. The United Nations committee on economic, social and cultural rights has global oversight of how these rights are implemented around the world.” As its chair, Virgínia Brás Gomes brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise about how to monitor and hold states to account for the realisation of economic and social rights and the benefits that can be achieved in people’s lives when this is done effectively. The Commission is delighted to welcome her to Scotland as part of our ongoing programme of work in this area.”

During her visit to Scotland, Brás Gomes will also go to Leith in Edinburgh to meet a group of local residents who have been taking part in a pioneering project to realise their housing rights.

The Housing Rights in Practice project, which began in 2015, has seen local people working together to monitor housing conditions, assess where these fall short of international human rights standards, and work with the local authority to secure housing improvements. The project is supported by the Scottish Human Rights Commission, Edinburgh Tenants Federation and Belfast-based Participation and the Practice of Rights.

The UK Government’s agenda of cuts and austerity was recently criticised by the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. After an investigation, the UN committee said the austerity agenda was failing to protect the human rights of disabled people.