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Human Rights team Roundtable Discussion on Humanitarian Approaches to Human Rights

On March 31st 2021, the Human Rights team at United Nations House Scotland (UNHS) hosted a roundtable on Humanitarian Approaches to Human Rights.

This event was organized following the team’s discussions about the opportunity we have 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.

Humanitarian perspectives have only recently resulted in the prohibition of nuclear weapons - for many years, the discourse about nuclear weapons had been megatonnage, size, numbers. Now, because of the pressure through coherent articulation by civil society, States Parties at the UN had to take on board the outrageous humanitarian consequences of any accidental or deliberate use of nuclear weapons.

This has resulted in the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) which came into force on Friday, 22 January 2021.

The Human Rights team at UNHS 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.

The Human Rights team believe Scotland must be at the forefront of dealing with rights.

Therefore, stemming from these considerations, this roundtable discussion sought 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, the roundtable 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.

Nathalie Balabhadra, UNHS member of the Human Rights team, gave a presentation entitled ‘‘The Humanitarian Imperative as a lens to address Human Rights in Scotland: Lessons from the TPNW and the Humanitarian Initiative’’.

You can see Nathalie’s presentation here:

UN House TPNW x Humanitarian Initiative
Download • 2.95MB

Laura Bucke, UNHS member and co-coordinator of the Human Rights team, presented the case study conducted for her MSc dissertation ‘‘The Human Right to a Healthy Environment: A Case Study Report’’.

You can see Laura’s presentation here:

Laura Environmental Rights
Download PPTX • 6.29MB

The Human Rights team is now working on drafting the report, which will be published shortly.

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