Sunday, 7 January 2018

Scotland 'Has Much to Offer' on Foreign Affairs and Conflict Resolution

SNP Reach Out to UK Government to Explore New Cross-Nations Approach

The SNP’s Westminster Foreign Affairs spokesperson has written to both the UK’s Foreign Secretary and the Scottish Government’s External Affairs Minister, seeking a meeting to explore ways the UK can better support devolved nations on foreign affairs and conflict resolution.

With concerns growing over the humanitarian disaster unfolding in Yemen, the refugee crisis in Syria and the ongoing challenges on climate justice, the SNP has said that now is the time to explore the role that devolved administrations can play in areas of mutual interest overseas.

In a letter to the UK’s Boris Johnson and Scotland’s Fiona Hyslop, Stephen Gethins MP echoed remarks made by the chief executive of Beyond Borders Scotland, Mark Muller Stuart QC, in a recent speech on ‘Using Culture and Scotland’s Soft Power to Help to Resolve Conflict in the 21st Century,’ commenting that Scotland’s distinct identity and international initiatives offer an opportunity to highlight new relationships and to present a new image internationally.

Mark Muller Stuart QC - a UN diplomat who has appeared before various bodies, including the UN, EU and the Council of Europe - said that the devolved settlement within the UK is an example of “how smaller nations within larger states can transition towards greater democracy in a peaceful and consensual manner,” and that on the international stage other countries will be able to take lessons from the de-centralisation of power – citing the 2012 Edinburgh Agreement as a key example of how governments can work together and create a platform for dialogue.

The SNP Scottish Government has consistently stepped up efforts on global issues, including through welcoming the 2,000th Syrian refugee to Scotland through the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Programme (SVPRP) - three years ahead of schedule.

Stephen Gethins MP, the SNP’s Foreign Affairs spokesperson, said:

"The UK in the past, and to this day, continues to play an influential role in conflicts and crises around the world - from Syria and Yemen, to humanitarian disasters such as Hurricane Irma, as well as climate justice challenges.

“There is a real opportunity, as was raised by Mark Muller Stuart QC - who holds a wealth of experience on conflict resolution - in his speech to look at how the influence held by nations like Scotland, and where the lessons of devolution can play a relevant role in addressing regional conflicts and crises.

“I echo his remarks that Scotland has ‘undertaken one of the most recent radical constitutional journeys of any modern nation in Europe and has much to offer the international community in terms of conflict resolution’ – the UK government must surely now recognise the greater role that Scotland can play on the international stage.

“That is why, with parliament set to reconvene this week, I have written to both the UK’s Foreign Secretary and the Scottish Government’s Minister for External Affairs seeking a meeting to explore if there are ways that the UK can better support devolved nations working in areas of mutual interest overseas."
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