Judith Robertson is the chair of the Scottish Human Rights Commission

TOMORROW the world celebrates 70 years of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This historic document, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on December 10, 1948, is the bedrock of today’s global system of human rights laws and protections.

Scotland will mark this and other milestones in its own human rights journey in several ways.

We will see the release of significant and bold recommendations on human rights leadership from an independent advisory group reporting directly to the First Minister.

And there will be a “human rights take over” of the Scottish Parliament, hosted by its own Equalities and Human Rights Committee, who themselves have recently set out a strong vision and plan for how to fully realise the Parliament’s role as a guarantor of human rights.

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Tomorrow, we also celebrate our own 10th anniversary at the Scottish Human Rights Commission. In doing so, we welcome these and other indicators of the growth in ambition and leadership on human rights in Scotland over the last decade.

When we work with our sister national human rights institutions around the world, we are frequently reminded of how fortunate we are in Scotland to have a Government, Parliament and civil society who consider protecting rights to be core business.

Solid progress has been made in our first decade. Back in 2008, human rights were most often associated with a relatively narrow set of issues, mainly in areas of criminal justice and anti-terrorism legislation.

Few organisations understood how human rights frameworks could help them deliver their public service aims. There was limited systematic consideration of how best to protect human rights in law, policy or practice.

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There was no vehicle for collective, strategic action on rights by government, civil society and public bodies.

Ten years on and we are in a much better place.

Increasingly, human rights principles have been embedded into law and policy, including Scotland’s health and social care standards, mental health and incapacity legislation, and prison inspection standards.

Since 2013 Scotland has had a National Action Plan for Human Rights – the only one in the UK – developed through a model of collaborative engagement that has been cited internationally as best practice.

Human rights are being considered, applied and monitored in a growing range of contexts including advocacy, independent living, housing, community development, mental health, social care, justice, tackling poverty, the role of business and more.

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This progress must, however, be tempered by the continued reality of people’s lived experience of day-to-day violations of their rights.

In our work at the commission we hear too often about the way people’s rights are not fully realised in everyday life.

Parents choosing between heating their homes or feeding their children. People unable to access mental health services when they need them most. Disabled people still facing barriers to accessing basic services. The list could go on and on.

Our regular reports to the United Nations on the implementation of international human rights in Scotland are full of evidence, reported to us by people themselves and organisations that work with them, of the daily reality that rights are not yet real for everyone.

Two key challenges must be met head-on to change this.

First, we need to do more to make sure people know, understand and value their human rights. We need to get to a place where rights are truly owned and claimed with confidence by people across the country in their communities, in schools, care homes, hospitals and workplaces.

Second, we need to sharpen the hard edge of accountability for all rights. We need a broader set of concrete legal standards that people can use to hold Government and public bodies to account.

In this vein, the commission particularly welcomes the anticipated recommendation by the First Minister’s Advisory Group of a new Act of the Scottish Parliament to enshrine economic, social, cultural and environmental rights in Scotland’s domestic laws.

There is much potential for Scotland to take bold, progressive, collective action on human rights.

It is my hope that by the time we celebrate 80 years of the Universal Declaration, the gap will have closed between ambitions for human rights, and the reality experienced by people in their daily lives.