You appear to be using an unsupported browser, and it may not be able to display this site properly. You may wish to upgrade your browser.

What are my human rights?

Human rights are the basic rights and freedoms that belong to every person in the world simply because they are human.

Human rights apply to you regardless of where you are from, how old you are, what you believe, or how you choose to live your life.

Governments cannot pick or choose which rights to honour. They can't be taken away, although they can sometimes be restricted – for example if a person breaks the law, in the interests of national security, or to protect other people's rights and freedoms.

All Scottish public authorities, including Scottish Ministers, must respect and protect your human rights when they plan services, make policies and take individual decisions.

If you feel your human rights have been breached there are many ways you can report this.

The United Nations (UN) treaties agreed by the UK protect human rights internationally. These can be grouped into 2 categories.

"Civil and political" rights, such as:

  • the right to life
  • the right to a fair trial
  • the right to privacy
  • the right to vote
  • freedom of expression
  • freedom of religion or conscience
  • freedom of assembly
  • freedom from torture, inhuman or degrading treatment and slavery

"Economic, social and cultural" rights, such as:

  • the right to an adequate standard of living
  • the right to the highest possible standard of physical and mental health
  • the right to education
  • the right to work and to decent work conditions
  • the right to social security
  • the right to participate in cultural life and to enjoy the benefits of scientific progress

Bills and Legislation

In Scotland, civil and political rights are protected by the Scotland Act 1998 and the Human Rights Act 1998.

There are several UN human rights treaties and Council of Europe human rights treaties that currently apply to Scotland.

The UK's progress on its human rights obligations is monitored by International and European organisations. Scotland participates in these review processes and the Scottish Government has committed to exploring how to make sure human rights are at the heart of everything it does.

Implications of withdrawal from the European Union

The UK remains part of the United Nations (UN) and is signed up to 7 of its core human rights treaties. In addition, the UK remains a signatory to the European Convention on Human Rights, which is a Council of Europe treaty and is not directly connected to membership of the EU.

Back to top