International obligations

SNAP enables Scotland’s international human rights treaty obligations to be located within the context of public policy. It is an effective way to move beyond supportive rhetoric for international human rights and to observe their international obligations in practice.

SNAP helps to demonstrate human rights improvements as realistic goals, achievable (if sufficiently resourced) through practical action that engages all sectors of government and society.

The effective implementation of human rights requires improvements in knowledge and suitable capacity building. Empowerment is implicit in the concept of SNAP, which can support people themselves (rights holders) and public officials (duty-bearers) to understand more about human rights and what new human rights legislation means for them. 

Respecting, protecting and fulfilling rights is a continuous process. No country can expect to resolve all of its human rights problems within a short timeframe. Even where countries believe that they have good human rights records, their commitment on economic, social and cultural rights to ‘progressive realisation’ means that we should always be striving for better. 

The importance of national human rights action plans is reflected in Concluding Observations for Scotland and the UK from international human rights treaty bodies in recent years. For example:

  • In 2019, the UN Committee Against Torture recommended the implementation of SNAP.
  • The adoption of a national action plan on human rights was recommended to the UK as state party during the 2017 Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of the UK’s implementation of all human rights treaty obligations.
  • In 2016, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child recommended full implementation of SNAP.
  • In 2016, the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination welcomed SNAP as a policy measure to combat racial discrimination.
  • In 2016, the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights noted with appreciation the adoption of SNAP.
  • In 2015, the Committee on Civil and Political Rights welcomed the adoption of SNAP.

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