1. International Human Rights Instruments
1.1 Ratification of human rights treaties and their optional protocols
International human rights treaties
Ratification of international treaties is a reserved matter. The Scottish Parliament does, however, have competence to observe and implement international obligations and the general subject matter of human rights falls firmly within devolved competence. The Scottish Government works closely with the UK Government to report on compliance with international human rights treaty obligations as they apply in Scotland. Through contributing to UK state party reports and forming part of UK delegations in Geneva, the Scottish Government communicates Scotland’s distinctive approach internationally.
Scotland (as part of the UK) was examined under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights ( ICCPR) in July 2015 and, in 2016, under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights ( ICESCR), the Convention on the Rights of the Child ( CRC), and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination ( CERD). Scotland participated in the Universal Periodic Review process coordinated by the UN Human Rights Council on 4 May 2017, and in an examination of the UK under the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities ( CRPD) in August 2017. Also in 2017, the Scottish Government contributed to state party reports under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women ( CEDAW) and the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment ( UNCAT).
A table setting out forthcoming treaty reporting events and providing links to recent Scottish Government position statements is contained at Annex A.
In its 2017-18 PfG, the Scottish Government has committed to action that gives effect to the economic, social and cultural rights set out in ICESCR, the European Social Charter and other treaties. The Scottish Government will also establish an expert advisory group on human rights and undertake a comprehensive audit on the most effective and practical way to further embed the principles of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child into policy and legislation, including the option of full incorporation into domestic law.
The Scottish Government has welcomed the third optional protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child in principle, and confirmed that the Scottish Ministers would be minded to offer measured support for its signature and ratification in the future. However, before doing so, Ministers would wish to better understand how the UN Committee intends to apply the new mechanism in practice.
Further consideration will be given in Scotland to the potential for participation in other Optional Protocols, in order to enable individuals to raise alleged breaches of UN treaties under established communications procedures.
Relevant procedures exist under the ICCPR, ICESCR, CRC, CEDAW, and CRPD. The UK is currently a party to both the CEDAW and CRPD protocols.
Rights of individual application should be considered within the context of existing remedies both in domestic law, including through the Human Rights Act 1998, and under Article 34 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
The Scottish Government supports the Foreign and Commonwealth Office ( FCO) in facilitating visits from UN Special Rapporteurs, most recently during the visit in January 2017 of the Special Rapporteur on the implications for human rights of the environmentally sound management and disposal of hazardous substances and wastes.  The Scottish Government values such opportunities to engage constructively with Special Procedures and the expert insight they provide on human rights issues in Scotland.
Council of Europe
The Scottish Government fully supports the role of the Council of Europe in promoting human rights throughout Europe and beyond, and is resolute in its insistence that the UK must remain a member of the Council.
The UK signed the Council of Europe (Istanbul) Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence in 2012. The 2017-18 PfG reaffirms the Scottish Government’s committment to rattification of the Convention.
Detail on actions taken in Scotland to combat violence against women and girls can be found in section 3.4.
The Scottish Government considers that Scotland is compliant with the Council of Europe (Lanzarote) Convention on Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse. Indeed, the Convention formed the basis for the later 2011 EU Directive on Child Sexual Exploitation and Abuse. The Scottish Government is working with the UK Government regarding the practical arrangements for a possible ratification.
Detail on action taken in Scotland to combat child sexual exploitation and abuse can be found in section 3.6.
ILO Convention 189 on domestic workers
Domestic servitude is one of the forms of exploitation covered by the Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Scotland) Act 2015, and 10% of the victims recovered in Scotland in 2016 were subject to this form of exploitation. The offences in the Act also cover the situation where someone is exploited by a family member and control of that individual is not transferred.
Detail on action taken in Scotland to combat human trafficking and exploitation can be found in section 3.9.