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.


We are going to update this page and our resources. Come back soon to find out more.

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.

Where should our human rights begin?

Human rights can feel very high level, but as Eleanor Roosevelt, Chair of the United Nations Commission wrote in 1948 they begin –

“In small places, close to home—so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world. Yet they are the world of the individual person; the neighbourhood…; the school or college…; the factory, farm or office …. Such are the places where every man, woman, and child seeks equal justice, equal opportunity, equal dignity without discrimination. Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerted citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world.”

We are entitled to our human rights in our everyday lives. And we need to defend our rights.

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.

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 does it all work?

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.

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