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Chamber and committees

Equalities, Human Rights and Civil Justice Committee

Minimum Core Obligations


We have agreed to undertake some further work on what minimum core obligations would mean in practice. This work builds on our previous work on human rights budgeting and will help provide context ahead of the introduction of the proposed Scottish Human Rights Bill.

'Minimum core', in the context of human rights, is intended to be a baseline of social, economic and cultural rights that every state should implement immediately.

They are responsibilities related to economic, social and cultural rights which a country needs to comply with at all times and in all circumstances, regardless of their resources or the overall conditions of a country.

The UK signed up to follow the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) in 1976. Scotland, as a devolved nation of the UK, has an obligation to ensure it complies with ICESCR to so that the country can meet its obligations. These include the right to an adequate standard of living, housing, healthcare, education and work. Examples of minimum core are:

  • ensuring people are not deprived of essential food
  • ensuring access to water
  • ensuring access to basic shelter, or temporary accommodation where requested
  • providing free primary education for everyone
  • having a national public health strategy

If the government does not provide rights to a minimum core level, it is in violation of its legal obligations.

The Scottish Government announced it would introduce a new Human Rights Bill during Session 6.

It is anticipated that the Bill will:

At previous evidence sessions the Committee heard Scotland should have a participatory process to define what minimum core means for the country. We’ve also heard from some witnesses that minimum core in Scotland should aim to ensure that a person can live with human dignity.

Our work on minimum core will provide useful information and context ahead of a Human Rights Bill being introduced.

The Scottish Human Rights Commission wrote to us after attending our meeting on 21 February 2023 with some further information on minimum core:

Scottish Human Rights Commission report on minimum core obligations

Scottish Human Rights Commission vision for the legal features of the proposed new Human Rights Bill in Scotland


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