The Westminster Government faces a serious of awkward human rights questions following action by the United Nations. The UN has directed the Government to address a ‘list of issues’ ranging from welfare cuts and reliance on food banks to blacklisting, inequality and the erosion of trade union rights.
Members of the Human Rights Consortium Scotland gave evidence at the UN earlier this month and those concerns will now be the subject of formal dialogue between Geneva and London.
These developments coincide with the UN celebrating its 70th anniversary on 24th October 2015 and promoting minimum, human rights standards that people across the world should enjoy. The ‘list of issues’ which the UK needs to answer includes how the UK will enshrine all the rights contained in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
HRCS spokes person, Carole Ewart said:
“The UK has agreed with the UN that we would enjoy a minimum set of economic, social and cultural rights. As so many people know from everyday life, there is a huge gap between the rhetoric and the reality so we highlighted the increase in poverty resulting from the government’s austerity measures and welfare reform, the demonistaion of human rights by politicians and the UK undermining international human rights standards by abolishing The Human Rights Act 1998. Our government has promised the UN that it will progressively realise economic and social rights to the maximum extent of available resources but has failed to do so and the poorest are suffering.”
Peter Hunter, UNISON Regional Manager and HRCS member said:
The Trade Union Bill is a direct attack on trade unions and the services we provide to members. Scottish industrial relations are particularly harmonious and CoSLA and the Scottish Government are standing shoulder to shoulder with us against this union-bashing law. Trade unions are key human rights defenders and there is widespread criticism of the Bill on Human Rights grounds so the UN intervention couldn’t come at a better time”
The delegation to the UN in Geneva on 14th October included UNISON Scotland, Unite the union, Close the Gap, Engender and Nourish Scotland. The HRCS would like to thank UNISON for the grant which enabled it to deliver a written submission to the UN and attend the session in Geneva.
The UN list of issues can be found at http://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/treatybodyexternal/Download.aspx?symbolno=E%2fC.12%2fGBR%2fQ%2f6&Lang=en
Details of the UN 70th Anniversary can be found at http://www.un.org/un70/en