The Human Rights team at UNHS is focused on HR education and raising awareness of HR issues not only in Scotland but also around the world. The team is engaged in discussions on HR theory as well as holding meetings, seminars and conferences. The team produce materials to inform and develop the capacity of current and future HR defenders. Our main aims are, to lower inhibitions relating to HR activism, to support HR focused activity and to facilitate engagement with processes designed to improve human rights protections.
About Human Rights
Many of the volunteers at UNHS are engaged in the study of HR law and policy and are keen to engage in projects and activities that make a difference to people’s lives. The UNHS HR team brings these volunteers together so that we might learn from each other’s knowledge and experience and in turn inform our practice.
Each volunteer brings with them a different perspective and area of concern. This means that the HR issues we are discussing can range quite widely in terms of geography, time and specificity. However, this has not stopped us from identifying certain commonalities in our work and a shared understanding of HR principles.
The UNHS HR team therefore exists as a small community of concern, engaging where we can with people who approach us with human rights worries, other civil society organisations, educational institutions and different levels of government. We engage in discussion, produce materials and hold events designed to educate and raise awareness of human rights issues wherever they emerge.
As UNHS is based in Scotland, we have engaged where possible in proposals for new HR legislation. We are broadly supportive of an integrated and universal HR framework that recognises community and environmental dimensions and involves third parties. We welcome engagement on this and other topics.
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A Humanitarian Approach to Human Rights:
A Roundtable Discussion
Over the past few months, our team at United Nations House Scotland (UNHS) has been planning a series of roundtables on the incorporation of humanitarian principles into Human Rights law in Scotland. We realise that we have an opportunity here in Scotland to interrogate the incorporation of human rights based on humanitarian perspectives into Scottish law, especially at a time when Scotland is seeking to improve its citizens’ rights through the new framework put forward by the First Minister’s Advisory Group on Human Rights Leadership.
Through the implementation of a humanitarian discourse on nuclear weapons, States Parties at the UN had to take on board the humanitarian consequences of their accidental or deliberate use. This has resulted in the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) which came into force on Friday, 22 January 2021.
We believe the same logic applies to human rights: although, historically, it may have been understandable to treat human rights as individual (social, economic, political) rights. However, it is even more important now, given the proposed new framework, to focus on the collective humanitarian impact of when these rights are denied or abused. We at UNHS believe Scotland must be at the forefront of dealing with rights. Therefore, stemming from these considerations, the Human Rights team at UNHS seek to answer the following question:
If a humanitarian approach to Human Rights exists, what does it include? If it doesn’t, how can we help to motivate such discussions through our roundtables?
To answer this, our first roundtable held on 31st March 2021 discussed the efficacy of having a humanitarian perspective in a rights-based framework, providing a guiding force for the incorporation of human rights into Scottish law and its implementation thereafter.
Our follow-up report from this roundtable can be found here.
Our second roundtable held on 3rd March 2022 was held on the same theme with a focus instead on implementing humanitarian principles in Human Rights law in Afghanistan.
A report of our findings from our second roundtable will be published in May 2022.
Both events were held on Zoom to comply with COVID-19 government guidelines. You can watch the recording of our roundtables here.