Human Rights

Disabled people have the same human rights as everyone else in Scotland.

But the rights we have are not always the rights we enjoy. Disabled people’s human rights can be denied and not be protected and promoted. This is because of discrimination, poorly designed services, buildings and transport, and poorly trained service-providers.

Covid-19 is an example of where this happened. You can read our research report Rights at Risk about what happened to our human rights during Covid-19.

You can find out more about human rights and how they are covered by different laws and treaties, and what you can do to protect them.

What are human rights?

Disabled people have the same human rights as everyone else. You can find out more about everyone’s human rights on this page.

The United Nations adopted the Convention on the Rights of Disabled People. This Convention sets what needs to happen so that disabled people enjoy their human rights.

How can we protect disabled people’s human rights?

Understanding human rights is important so that you can enjoy your human rights, and so that you can take action when your human rights, or those of any disabled person, are being denied.

Use The Human Rights Toolkit is in 5 sections:

Inclusion Scotland coproduced the Human Rights toolkit with Glasgow Disability Alliance, Inverclyde Council on Disability and Angus Advocacy.

We coproduced an Easy Read version of the toolkit with People First Scotland.

You can also look at resources published by All Our Rights In Law.

Disabled People’s Human Rights in Scotland

What’s going to happen?

In 2021 a Taskforce reported to the Scottish Government to say that international human rights treaties like the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Disabled People need to be incorporated into Scots law. This will mean that public bodies have legal duties to deliver our rights and our rights will be set out in law.

A new Act to do this is expected during the Scottish Parliament 2021 to 2026. It will include the text of the Convention on the Rights of Disabled People.

Will it work?

We commissioned a report with the ALLIANCE to look at what incorporation means and what model of incorporation would work best for disabled people in Scotland. You can read the report here.

What is covered by the Convention on the Rights of Disabled People?

The Convention on the Rights of Disabled People includes our rights to:

  • non-discrimination
  • health
  • education
  • employment
  • access to justice
  • personal security
  • independent living
  • access to information

You can find out more about what the Convention says and how it works here.

Because the CRPD is not yet incorporated into Scots law disabled people cannot rely on it to get things changed and it cannot be enforced in a court.


Who Oversees Human Rights?

The Committee for the Convention on the Rights of Disabled People

The Committee on the Rights of Disabled People oversees what countries are doing to implement the CPRD and monitors their progress.

The Committee can:

  • Monitor what countries are doing to implement the Convention

Inclusion Scotland leads the Scottish Civil Society reports to the Committee with Disabled People’s Organisations across Scotland to tell the United Nations about what is happening with disabled people’s rights in Scotland. We write reports for the Periodic Review. You can find out more below.

  • Conduct inquiries

The United Nations held an Inquiry to look at the United Kingdom after they received evidence from disabled people. They reported in 2016 and said that there were grave and systemic violations of disabled people’s human rights. Inclusion Scotland has sent update information to the United Nations on the anniversary of the report.

  • Write General Comments to explain what different parts of the Convention means.

General Comment 7 is about participation of disabled people and disabled people’s organisations (DPOs) in implementing and monitoring the Convention. It says that that states and public authorities should prioritise disabled people’s views, through their DPOs, and that they should support the capacity and empowerment of DPOs. This is to ensure that ‘priority is given to ascertaining the views of disabled people and DPOs in decision making and monitoring processes.

Inclusion Scotland and members of the Scottish Independent Living Coalition wrote to the Taskforce about General Comment 7.

Independent Monitoring of the CRPD

Civil Society

Civil society groups also have a role in monitoring the implementation of the CRPD. Civil society groups are organisations or movements which are separate from government and the private sector.

In Scotland, the CRPD civil society group is Scottish Independent Living Coalition (SILC), you can find out more about SILC here.

SILC works with other Disabled People’s Organisations across England, Wales and Northern Ireland to make sure the Committee hears about what is happening to disabled people in the UK.

After the UK Government has submitted its report to the Committee, SILC and the other UK civil society groups can send a report to the Committee, as well as questions they want the Committee to ask the government. These are called a shadow report or an alternative report. You can read the UK civil society group shadow report from 2017 here.

Human Rights Institutions

The Equality and Human Rights Commission and the Scottish Human Rights Commission, plus other human rights institutions in Northern Ireland, are known as the United Kingdom Independent Mechanism (UKIM) for the CRPD.

The UKIM has a special role to promote, protect and monitor the implementation of the CRPD in the UK.

The UKIM produces a List of Issues to tell the Committee what things they should look at when they review the UK. You can read the list of issues report from 2017 here.

The UKIM also published a progress report 12 months after the UK’s review. You can read the progress reports here.


The way that our human rights are set out in different documents is complicated. This page links you to some of the key ones.

Disabled people have the same human rights as everyone else.

These are contained in different Declarations, Treaties, Covenants and Acts

Together these three documents are known as the International Bill of Human Rights.

The Council of Europe – which the UK is a member of – adopted a European Convention on Human Rights to protect the human rights of everyone who lives in the 47 Council of Europe member states. The UK remained a member of the Council of Europe after it’s exit from the European Union in January 2020.

The United Nations has also passed Treaties to show how the rights in these documents should take effect for different groups. There is a Treaty for disabled people’s rights – the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Disabled People.

What is the Convention on the Rights of Disabled People?

Disabled people have their own Convention which sets out how countries should respect and protect our human rights: the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities(CRPD).

It in an international Treaty that sets out the rights of disabled people and how these have to be met for disabled people so that we can enjoy the same human rights as everyone else. The Convention covers a wide range of areas including:

  • Health
  • Education
  • Employment
  • Access to justice
  • Personal security
  • Independent living
  • Access to information.

The full text of UNCRPD is available on the UN website; it is also available in an Easy Read format (pdf)
– See the 50 articles that form the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

The United Kingdom Government ratified this Convention. This means that they intend to deliver legal rights, but it has not been passed into law.

There is also a UK Human Rights Act

Inclusion Scotland Group