Yesterday evening I was at a reception in the Scottish Parliament to mark the 60th anniversary of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, one of the cornerstones of the post-war international legal order.
The event also saw the first public announcement by the new Scottish Human Rights Commission of its planned work programme, on which it will be consulting the public over the next few months. Professor Alan Miller, the Commission's chair (there are three part time members in addition) spoke eloquently of the Commission's aim to establish a "human rights culture" in Scotland and to bring effective human rights awareness to all levels of government.
The Commission in fact formally launched last June, but has spent the intervening period recruiting staff and drawing up its plans. Surely the combination of the anniversary and the Commission's public debut would be the opportunity to catch some headlines and remind the populace that human rights can achieve a lot more than just litigation by prisoners?
Sadly, wider media coverage of each aspect - anniversary and public launch - seems to have been minimal. Certainly no press information reached my desk. I met one chap who had been on telly that morning for having translated the Universal Declaration into Scots, but that's as much as I've come across.
We should not need to be reminded of why the Declaration came into existence, yet sections of the press seem determined to give the concept a bad name - and too many politicians are more inclined to bend their way rather than speak up for international standards to which the UK signed up long before the 1998 Act gave direct effect in domestic law to the European Convention.
Presiding Officer Alex Ferguson, welcoming us to the Parliament, hinted at the subject's poor public image at present when he suggested that perhaps we should think more in terms of basic human freedoms, which are indeed given equal prominence in both the UN and European versions. But whatever we do, let's do something. It isn't just abroad that rights - and freedoms - come under threat. It's time to celebrate what we have, and to wish the Scottish Commission a loud bark in protecting and enhancing our human rights.