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Europe and Foreign Affairs: Taking forward our National Conversation


Annex A - Membership of International Organisations and Ministries of Foreign Affairs

Membership of International Organisations

This annex does not address Scotland's future role in the EU, as this has already been considered in the main paper. Other international organisations have different processes for dealing with applications for membership. The following examples demonstrate the diversity in the processes. All information has been sourced from publically accessible information available online. Except where explicitly stated, all figures are provided by the international organisations themselves.

The decision to join or not to join an international organisation would depend on policy decisions made by Scottish Ministers of the time. This list is not intended to pre-empt such decisions. It also does not attempt to highlight the benefits or disadvantages of membership.

The UN8

Paragraph 1 of Article 4 of the Charter of the United Nations states that it "is open to all other peace-loving States which accept the obligations contained in the present Charter and, in the judgment of the Organization, are able and willing to carry out these obligations."

The latest country to join the UN was Montenegro in 2006. Montenegro had held a referendum on 21 May 2006, and declared itself independent from Serbia on 3 June. In a letter dated 3 June, the President of Serbia informed the Secretary-General of the UN that the membership of Serbia and Montenegro was being continued by Serbia, following this declaration of independence. On 28 June 2006 Montenegro was accepted as a United Nations Member State.

Member states make payments to the UN system through assessed mandatory contributions and through voluntary contributions. Assessed contributions cover the regular budget for the UN and peacekeeping operations. Assessed and voluntary contributions are used to finance specialised agencies, while UN Funds and Programs are funded entirely by voluntary contributions.

The primary criterion applied to Members States, through the General Assembly for assessing contributions to the UN is a country's capacity to pay. The amount they actually pay is based on estimates of their GNP and adjustments for external debt and low per capita incomes. A formula is used to determine contributions, which are a percentage of the regular budget.

The peacekeeping budget is funded slightly differently because discounted peacekeeping assessment rates are offered to less developed countries. The 5 permanent Security Council members, who must approve peacekeeping operations, all pay a higher share to fund these discounts.

UK assessed contributions to the UN system totalled £177.6M in 2007, or 6.642% of the UN system budget. UK contributions to UN Peacekeeping totalled £260.3M, 7.8% of the UN Peacekeeping budget. UK voluntary contributions to the UN system totalled £604.9M. 9

Other country's estimated contributions to the UN: 10

Table 1: Estimated Contributions to the UN


% Contribution to respective budgets

UN System







not available
















The scale of voluntary contributions to the UN vary widely.

The Commonwealth11

To join the Commonwealth, the country must normally have a historic constitutional association with an existing Commonwealth member. It must accept and comply with Commonwealth fundamental values, principles and priorities as set out in the various declarations. It must also demonstrate commitment to democracy and it must accept Commonwealth norms and conventions, including acknowledging the Queen as the Head of the Commonwealth (but not necessarily as Head of State).

There is a 4 step process to join to the Commonwealth. First, an informal assessment is carried out by the Secretary-General of ability to meet membership criteria, followed by consultation with existing member governments, and an invitation to make a formal application. There have been anomalies in the membership process. India attended Commonwealth conferences before it became independent, and the premiers of southern Rhodesia and Burma were invited as observers before their countries' independence. For most overseas territories, Commonwealth membership is approved before independence is achieved, applicants do not have to wait for the next Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting to receive a decision.

The Commonwealth Secretariat and its work are financed by three separate budgets or funds.

1. All member states contribute to the Commonwealth Secretariat on an agreed scale based on capacity to pay. UN scales are used as a guide. The budget for the Secretariat in 2007/8 was £14m The UK currently pays 30%. 12

2. The Commonwealth Fund for Technical Cooperation is financed by voluntary contributions. The budget in 2007/8 was £26m.

3. The Commonwealth Youth Program is financed by voluntary contributions. The budget for 2007/8 was £2.7m.

Only a Commonwealth country can compete in the Commonwealth games. 13


Table 2: Percentage Contributions to OECD



Percentage share













OECD is funded by its 30 member countries, with contributions based on a formula taking into account the size of each Member State's economy. The budget for 2008 was €342.9M.

There is not a standardised accession procedure as the OECD is keen to consider each member on their own merits. The terms and conditions of membership are set by Council by consensus, the final invitation to accede to the OECD Convention needs to be agreed unanimously by Council.


The WTO identifies four stages to the joining process.

1. The government applying for membership has to describe all aspects of its trade and economic policies that have a bearing on WTO agreements. This is submitted to the WTO in a memorandum which is examined by the working party dealing with the country's application.

2. Bilateral talks with individual countries begin, covering tariff rates and specific market access commitments, and other policies in goods and services. These negotiations can be as large as an entire round of multilateral trade negotiations.

3. Working party finalises terms of accession. These appear in a report, a draft membership treaty ("protocol of accession") and lists ("schedules") of the member-to-be's commitments.

4. The final package is presented to the WTO General Council or Ministerial Conference. If a two-thirds majority of WTO members vote in favour, the applicant is free to sign the protocol and to accede to the organization.

The WTO budget is over 160 million Swiss francs with individual contributions, calculated on the basis of shares in the total trade conducted by WTO members.


Table 3: Contributions to IMF


Contribution (Million SDR)









To become a member of the IMF a country must apply and be accepted by a majority of the existing members. When a country joins, it is assigned a quota, based broadly on its relative size in the world economy. This quota delineates basic aspects of its financial and organizational relationship with the IMF including subscriptions, voting power, access to financing and SDR (Special Drawing Rights) allocations.

The World Bank17

The World Bank is made up five organisations, the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development ( IBRD) and the International Development Association ( IDA), the International Finance Corporation ( IFC), the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency ( MIGA) and the International Centre for the Settlement of Disputes ( ICSID). Membership in IDA, IFC and MIGA are conditional on membership in IBRD.

The Membership and Capital Subscriptions Unit of the Corporate Secretariat is the first contact point for enquiries concerning new membership in the World Bank. The Unit is responsible for communications to and from the applicant country regarding membership formalities, such as amounts of proposed capital subscriptions and required payments and documentation. It prepares a draft membership resolution and a report recommending adoption of the resolution which contains the terms and conditions of the applicant country's membership to the Executive Board, and with the Board's approval, to the Board of Governors for a vote.

The Nordic Council and Nordic Council of Ministers18

The Nordic Council was formed in 1952 as a forum for inter-parliamentary cooperation and is a cooperative organisation for the legislatures of the Nordic region. It is based on a series of formal agreements, the most important of which is the 1962 Helsinki Treaty, in which the goals and organisation are broadly defined. Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden were all and remain original members of the Nordic Council. The Helsinki Treaty has subsequently been amended to allow the legislatures of the Åland Islands, Faroe Islands and Greenland are represented as part of their member state delegation.

The Nordic Council of Ministers is a vehicle for co-operation between the governments of the Nordic countries, and was created through an amendment of the Helsinki Treaty in 1971. It meets in different formats depending on the matters being discussed, with work coordinated by the Nordic Cooperation Ministers. Cooperation strengthens the voice of Nordic countries in an international context, for example, the Nordic countries are currently working together to influence the EU's agenda on sustainable energy.

The total annual budget for the Nordic Council is about DKK30M and slightly more than DKK900M for the Nordic Council of Ministers. Contributions from each members state are based on their population as a proportion of all countries in the Nordic Council. For example, Denmark pays 22.7%, a total equivalent to approximately €28.3M.

Ministries of Foreign Affairs Summary

The cost and activities of a country's Ministry for Foreign Affairs ( MFA) will depend on the policy decisions of that country. The following pages provide a top-level summary of five different MFAs, indicating both their activities and their reported costs. Information has been sourced from publically available information, primarily from their 2007 Annual Reports and websites..

The costs provided by each of the MFAs are not directly comparable, as different MFAs undertake different activities. For example, the Finnish MFA is responsible for the maintenance of crisis management troops and the participation of civilians in crisis management, tasks not undertaken by any of the comparator MFAs. The data available does not set out the staffing arrangements within MFAs. In particular, it is not clear whether there are staff seconded (and consequently paid for) by other departments working alongside diplomats and MFA officials.

The countries chosen are recognised to be broadly similar in terms of population to Scotland, and represent a range of different approaches to foreign affairs. Ireland, Denmark and Finland are all countries identified in the Government Economic Strategy as successful small economies Scotland should look to and learn from 19. The Slovak Republic provides a contrasting example of a relatively recently independent country with a less established MFA. New Zealand provides a comparison with a Commonwealth country with a similar population size, but outwith the EU.

All figures are provided in Euros, along with national currency as appropriate to facilitate easy comparison. The average 2007 exchange rate for the Euro was £0.68 (European Central Bank) 20.

Table 4: Ireland - Department of Foreign Affairs21

Diplomatic and Consular services (2007)

76 diplomatic and consular offices

Employees (2007)

approx 1400

Cost (2007) of foreign affairs


The Department's activities include; providing advice and support on relationship with Northern Ireland and UK, pursuing Ireland's foreign policy abroad and promoting and protecting Ireland's interests in the EU, promoting Ireland's economic and cultural interests, contributing to international development through Irish Aid, providing consular and passport services to protect and support the interests of Irish citizens abroad. Enterprise Ireland is also active overseas. It is a government agency that works with Irish owned businesses to secure and grow their international business. It had an expenditure of €266.8M in 2007, and maintained 32 offices abroad 22. The DFA also spent €572 on aid.

Table 5: Denmark - Ministry of Foreign Affairs23

Diplomatic Missions (2007)

87 Embassies and Consulates

Employees (2007)


Cost (2007)

1,757M DKK (€235.8M)

The Ministry handles and coordinates Denmark's official relations to foreign countries, a number of international organisations, including the EU, the UN and NATO; and in respect to the Nordic cooperation. It assist Danes who find themselves in difficult situations abroad and Danish business community in their export activities, internationalisation and other commercial activities abroad where there is a clear commercial interest for Denmark, as well as attracts foreign investment to Denmark. It handles and coordinates Denmark's trade policy and administers Danish development assistance, and it contributes to spreading awareness of Denmark and Danish culture.

Table 6: Finland - Ministry of Foreign Affairs24

Diplomatic Missions (2007)

97 offices

Employees (2007)


Cost (2007)


The Ministry's aims to achieve an influential Finland in the international community; an internal community generating security; a fair world; a successful Finland; and an open and service-oriented Ministry for Foreign Affairs Activities include; foreign and security policy, trade policy, development policy and assistance, international cooperation, including Nordic cooperation, EU, human rights, crisis management, diplomacy and consular services. In addition to the figures shown above, the MFA also spent €579M on international development, and €22.5M on Cooperation with neighbouring areas of Murmansk, The Republic Karelia, Leningrad Oblast and St Petersburg.

Table 7: Slovak Republic - Ministry of Foreign Affairs25

Diplomatic Missions (2007)

89 diplomatic missions
(approx. 50% of which are 'mini embassies' with only 1-2 diplomats)

Employees (2007)


Cost (2007)

3,187M SKK (approx. €94.4M)

The activities of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs include promoting the interests of the Slovak Republic and fulfilling responsibilities in the EU, NATO, UN and Visegrad 4 countries; supporting security, stability, and prosperity in the Western Balkans; engaging in the global protection of human rights; strengthening activities in the field of development cooperation and humanitarian aid; and providing consular services for the public and effectuate public diplomacy. In addition to the figures mentioned above, the Government of the Slovak republic established the Slovak Agency for International Development Cooperation and the overall volume of development assistance in the year 2007 amounted to 1,652 million SKK (approx. €48.9M)

Table 8: New Zealand - Ministry of Foreign Affairs26

Diplomatic Missions (2007)

59 Overseas Posts and Consulates General

Employees (2007)


Cost (2007)

NZ$620M (€333.3M )

The Ministry's activities are focused on 5 strategic outcomes; Safeguarding New Zealand's security interests, supporting New Zealand's economy through international connections, promoting transboundary solutions and effective international rules, eliminating poverty and protecting rights of New Zealanders abroad. Activities include, consular and diplomatic services, advice on human rights issues, travel, and trade issues.

Table 9: Other expenditure of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade vote

Costs: NZ$M

Resources: €M

Subscriptions to International Organisations



Agency Services Business



The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade also spent NZ$434M (€233.3M) on Official Development Assistance.

Consular and Diplomatic Resources

Size of Permanent Representations to the EU

Except for the very smallest Member States, most Permanent Representations have about 80-100 staff for a medium size country (e.g. Ireland, Denmark, Finland etc), and typically 150-200 staff for the largest Member States.

EU Arrangements

An EU citizen has the right to request the consular or diplomatic protection of any other EU Member State when in a non- EU country where his/her own Member State is not represented by a permanent consular post or diplomatic mission 27.

Co-location of Embassies

There are several examples of countries co-locating embassies in one building in order to reduce overhead costs and facilitate collaborative working. For example;

  • UK embassies are co-located with those of EU Partners in Almaty, Ashkhabad, Dar es Salaam, Pyongyang, Quito, Reykjavik, Minksk and Chisinau. There are separate facilities within each shared building, so each country takes advantage of sharing the overhead costs while maintaining a formal separation in respect of the work that is done 28.
  • Estonia has one "joint mission" with Finland, in New Delhi (the Finnish embassy premises host the Estonian consulate) 29, and has sent diplomats to the embassy of the Netherlands in Tel Aviv and the Swedish embassy in Cairo 30. In Tel Aviv and Cairo these diplomats are preparing to open Estonian Embassies.

Shared Consular Services- Canada and Australia

In some places, Australian diplomatic officers provide consular services to Canadians, and vice versa. A memorandum of understanding details the nature of this arrangement for sharing consular services. Most but not all consular services can be provided under this arrangement (e.g. no assistance in extradition cases, or issuance of regular passports or visas) 31.