Ministerial Foreword – Cabinet Secretary for Justice
Scotland is an open, welcoming nation, internationalist in outlook and, as a good global citizen, committed to working in partnership with others to tackle global challenges. As a nation, we are active and connected, with a long history of constructive engagement with our neighbours and a track record of leadership on climate change, climate justice, and effective delivery of development assistance.
The context for our international engagement is changing rapidly. The decision of the UK Government to leave the European Union – opposed by a significant majority of the people in Scotland who voted in the referendum – has, in the view of influential observers, reduced the influence of the UK in the world. Unless the UK seeks to re-join the EU, it will be necessary to work harder to ensure that Scotland's voice is heard on the issues that matter to those living in Scotland and to ensure that the Scottish Government can continue to engage internationally for the benefit of Scotland's people, businesses and institutions.
The UK Government has chosen this point in time to conduct an "Integrated Review" of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy. The conclusions of this Review will have an impact on communities, institutions and individuals across Scotland as well as influencing the way in which the governments of the UK engage with the rest of the world.
The Scottish Government has sought every opportunity to engage with the UK Government on the review process and ensure Scotland's interests are represented. However consultation with the Scottish Government, and the other Devolved Administrations, has been extremely limited and, ultimately, inadequate. The Scottish Government has had next to no access to the proposals being developed, and has thus been largely unable to feed in the Scottish Government perspective to ensure that the interests of the people of Scotland are being properly addressed. This disappointing lack of partnership again demonstrates the disingenuous nature of the UK Government's approach to "strengthening the Union".
It is therefore important that the Scottish Government uses the opportunity provided by the publication of the conclusions of the Integrated Review to re-state its position on a range of key international issues. This paper highlights a number of the areas in which Scotland has a distinctive approach and makes a significant contribution internationally.
The present devolution settlement reserves many of the policies addressed by the Integrated Review to Westminster. However, the impact of the decisions that the Review informs will be felt in Scotland and will, in turn, impact on the Scottish Parliament's decision-making responsibilities. Only with independence will the Scottish Parliament gain the full range of powers available to states, ensuring that all of these decisions are made in the best interests of the people of Scotland.
The Scottish Government will continue working to ensure that the UK Government is consistent in defending and promoting human rights, an ambitious climate agenda and multilateral engagement. We will continue to engage constructively across these islands to safeguard the security of our people and where it is in the interests of Scottish businesses, communities and institutions. For example, the Scottish Government welcomes and supports the focus on Science and Technology in the Integrated Review.
The Scottish Government calls on the UK Government to recognise the expertise that exists in Scotland and to work with us and the other Devolved Administrations to address the cross-cutting nature of global challenges.
Humza Yousaf MSP
Cabinet Secretary for Justice