The declaration sets out the inalienable rights that everyone has just because they are human – regardless of race, color, religion, ability, sex, language, gender, political or other opinion, origin national or social, property, birth or any other status.
If I wrote this in the years before Covid, I would say human rights are precarious, millions of people don’t enjoy them in the same way and we have a lot to do.
But as we discuss human rights now, we cannot fail to reflect on the dire reality of what we face as we live through Covid.
While human rights were already precarious for many across Scotland before the pandemic, recent years have accentuated the inequalities faced by women, BAME people and LGBT people.
Six in ten deaths during the pandemic were people with disabilities. Many people with disabilities have seen their social benefits reduced and withdrawn. They were left without assistance with washing or eating. Some have even been refused resuscitation. Unpaid caregivers, mostly women, were left to pick up the pieces.
Women worked an average of four and a half hours of unpaid work each day, increasingly doing care, childcare, home education and housework. At the same time, it was female-dominated sectors such as retail and hospitality that were hit by the closures, and millions of women who were key workers were sent to work without PPE.
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People who lived in nursing homes, many of whom were older, were denied their rights. For thousands of people this was their basic right to life, for many others their right to private and family life, as the restrictions denied them any opportunity to see their families.
And millions of people have been pushed into poverty by spiraling debt and rising costs of living. Their economic rights to a decent standard of living are a distant dream.
This pandemic has been a disaster for human rights, both as a direct result of the virus and because of the impact of decisions made around the virus which have excluded those most affected.
The experience of social assistance users is one example. Another is what Engender described as a “phantom pandemic”; gender-based violence where women were locked in with their abuser, unable to access help, and abusers empowered in a locked life. A women’s support group told me that when a woman calls for help, she asks why the line is so bad. She replied that she was calling from her wardrobe.
We must move forward towards a better Scotland, where everyone can enjoy their human rights. This means we need to learn from the lessons of the past, listen to those most affected – including women, unpaid caregivers, key workers, people with disabilities, BAME people, single parents and low-paid workers.
The next Covid investigation is the start of this learning process. He must not neglect any effort for human rights. It should light up dark corners.
Human rights exist to provide a framework that allows governments to protect us all from violations of our rights, to make decisions that fulfill them, and to ensure that people have, by international standards, a “life in the world.” dignity “.
Far too many people don’t. Services are not and have never been available to them, accessible, affordable or of acceptable quality.
The past two years have seen everyone living with restrictions like this, where work, rest and play were unavailable and inaccessible, and everyone found it incredibly difficult. If it’s not for everyone, it should never be okay for anyone.
So we have a lot of work to do to make rights real, and I think we are at a crucial moment in human history, and in human rights, to do so. This is a time when we need to meet, to build a Scotland where everyone can exercise and enjoy their human rights equally.
Human rights are indivisible and interdependent. We cannot select those who are easy to implement in policy and practice, or those who can have them.
We need to give effect to those that are harder to bring to fruition too, and we need to give effect to them for everyone, regardless of our gender, who we love, where we live, whether we are disabled or not, our color or where. we were born.
Because, as US political activist Cynthia McKinney said: “We are so much more powerful when we look to each other and not each other, when we celebrate our diversity … and together break down mighty walls. of injustice.
For me, it starts with a comprehensive, tripartite approach to mainstreaming United Nations treaties, including the Conventions on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and the elimination of all forms of racial discrimination. , and to give effect to the rights of LGBT + and older people also in law.
I welcome the Scottish government’s commitment to do so, but we cannot wait. We need urgent action to make this a reality. Our new human rights laws must be ambitious, protect those who have the most to gain and who are currently struggling to claim their rights. They must also be supported by targeted financial resources.
While we wait (hopefully not too long), the Scottish Government must make a constant effort to gradually realize the economic, social and cultural rights we already have, so that new protections are built on solid foundations and not just no repelling regression. .
All of us in Scotland deserve nothing less than a relentless focus on the realization of rights – on the main street, in the workplace, at home, in the boardroom, in schools, colleges and universities and parliament, and it’s starting now. I do whatever I can, whenever I can, to make it happen, and fast. There’s no time to lose.
Pam Duncan-Glancy is a Labor MSP for the Glasgow area