Scottish independence: SNP report claims independent Scotland would help protect citizens around the world

An independent Scotland could help protect citizens around the world, a new report from SNP MPs has claimed.

The new paper, ‘A Good Global Citizen: A Scottish Approach to the Protection of Civilians in Conflict’, was launched in Westminster on Tuesday by the SNP’s foreign affairs team – MPs Alyn Smith and Stewart McDonald.

Proposals include an atrocity analysis unit to provide a quick response, mandatory training on the protection of civilians in conflict for the Scottish Defence Force, and returning to 0.7 per cent spending of gross national income on international development.

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Mr Smith, the SNP foreign affairs spokesperson, said: “Far too often civilians suffer the most in situations of conflict. An independent Scotland will strive to be a good global citizen in the world and this paper demonstrates one such area we can do this well.

Parties in favour of a referendum on Scottish independence won the majority of Holyrood seats at the last election. Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images
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“Whether it be increasing international development funding to mitigate potential causes of conflict, or ensuring adequate parliamentary scrutiny of arms exports, there are a variety of options that can be taken to protect civilians from violent conflict. Prevention is always better than cure, but the UK’s approach to protecting civilians has been largely one of firefighting. It can and must do better if it is to prevent identity-based violence and mass atrocities.

“The policies we have put forward outline concrete steps the UK can take to redress past failings and help prevent future atrocities. As the UK Government looks to update the integrated review, we would urge it to take these recommendations seriously.”

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The paper’s release follows an international conference in Dublin where 80 countries, including the UK, signed the Political Declaration on Explosive Weapons in Populated Areas (EWIPA).

The report was produced following consultation with civic society organisations, including the not-for-profit company Airwars, which tracks and investigates civilian harm claims resulting primarily from explosive weapons in conflict-affected regions.

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Mr Smith claimed the policies would help Scotland become a “global leader in the protection of civilians”. Megan Karlshøj-Pedersen, policy specialist with Airwars, said: "The policy is unique in the extent to which it has allowed for meaningful civil society engagement, and its focus on civilian harm tracking is a nod to the vital importance of acknowledging when harm has occurred and learning important lessons.”

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