Making Rights Real in Scotland Scoping Study

Making Rights Real in Scotland Scoping Study

The Baring Foundation funded scoping work to establish Making Rights Real. Led by Clare MacGillivray during 2020, the scoping work was supported by a Scottish Advisory Group including Participation and the Practice of Rights, community activists, the Scottish Human Rights Commission, Scottish Community Development Centre, University of Glasgow, Amnesty International, the Human Rights Consortium Scotland and the ALLIANCE.

Featuring conversations with rights holders, community groups, third sector organisations, public authority leaders and independent funders, the scoping study reported to the Baring Foundation in October 2020. 

The Chief Statistician for Scotland supported data analysis through their third sector analytical exchange programme which helped consider the people and places that are most marginalised and which economic, social and cultural rights are most at risk in Scotland.

What we found out

The Baring Foundation commissioned Clare MacGillivray who worked on the Housing Rights project to carry out a Making Rights Real in Scotland Scoping Study supported by a Scottish Advisory Group to:

  • Determine the feasibility of a national organisation to support grassroots human rights practice and monitoring in Scotland including generating options for governance/setting up the organisation.
  • Develop funding partnerships and a funding pathway to enable the establishment of an organisation and begin project work post-scoping study phase.
  • Identify communities of interest, place or characteristic that may wish to be engaged in future grassroots human rights monitoring project(s).

Summary of key findings:

There is a demonstrable need and appetite for Making Rights Real supporting grassroots human rights accountability work, this, even before COVID was taken into consideration

  • Demand for Making Rights Real support will exceed resources; and as such criteria for determining where to focus support will be developed
  • There are few examples where human rights are used in practice to hold duty bearers to account; the most notable being the Leith project
  •  There is national and international significance to the work of Making Rights Real
  • The work of Making Rights Real can have a strong amplifying effect in shifting human rights practice, learning and replicability
  • Grassroots human rights work requires deep and soulful organising and strong relationships developed over time
  • Context of post-Brexit, Covid, community empowerment as part of COVID response presents an opportunity
  • Making Rights Real fits with national strategic objectives of  SNAP and the direction of the Human Rights Taskforce to advance human rights across all spheres
  • Human rights issues have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. These include disproportionate effects on BAME communities, women, low paid workers, migrants, and asylum seekers, for older people, those living with disabilities and in a social care setting
  • The range of human rights issues is wide, and economic, social, and cultural rights violations are more ‘visible’ since the pandemic
  • A shift has occurred in public perception of these human rights injustices that requires an immediate response
  • There are strong calls from civil society, and rights holders for responses to the pandemic to “build forward better”
  • There is a tension and power imbalance between civil society and the State particularly where third sector organisations are funded through service level agreements to deliver services on behalf of public authorities, including fear of losing funding if you “poke the bear”. Duty bearers consider this tension more of a perception than reality.
  • Duty bearers feel ill equipped to use a human rights based approach in practice (due to decreased resource and capacity from emergency COVID responses, a lack of capacity, funding, and training / support in human rights) although some can see the value in this approach.
  • A whole system approach is required for human rights to be transformative in Scotland, including structural change (a new Human Rights Act), capacity building, resources, and leadership from all levels including the grassroots
  • There is a need for independent funding for this work, specifically because of tensions in holding the State to account to enable independent voices to flourish
  • Human rights defenders network and support is not well advanced for Scottish HRDs although there is an international programme of HRDS fellowships
  • Data capturing intersectionality of rights issues is poor, and the data connecting rights issues to the National Performance Framework could be advanced
  • Scottish funders have expressed an interest in embedding a rights based approach and explicit human rights funding in their work and have expressed interest in funding Making Rights Real.

We will soon be publishing the full report from this study.

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