Scotland’s Foreign Policy Footprint

Part of Delegated Legislation (Committees) – in the House of Commons at 9:24 pm on 3rd December 2018.

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Photo of Alan Duncan Alan Duncan Minister of State 9:24 pm, 3rd December 2018

I am sure Members will do exactly as you request, Mr Deputy Speaker, despite the challenge you are now making me face.

Let me pay proper tribute to some of the successes of the Scottish Government. For example, they hosted Syrian peacemakers in 2016 and provided funding to train 50 peacemakers a year. Those peacemakers were women, and it is very good that they were. I congratulate the Scottish Government on the way in which they shaped that important peacekeeping initiative. Similarly, I wish to highlight the willingness of the Northern Ireland Executive to share their experience of the Good Friday agreement and of community reconciliation with our international partners.

Let me draw again on my experience as an International Development Minister, as I was deeply involved in the peace talks in Nepal. In drawing together former combatants, the experience of Northern Ireland perhaps most persuaded some of those who had been fighting each other to lay down their arms, hand them in and move into camps where they could gradually start the process of reintegration into civil society. The experience of Northern Ireland contributed massively to the current peace in Nepal, so the experience of all the UK can add importantly to peace making and conflict resolution.

Members have alluded to soft power, for which the UK is rightly held in high regard. I have always argued that one of the most important elements of soft power that the UK enjoys, perhaps above all other countries, is the integrity and honesty of our diplomatic network abroad. When a British ambassador says something, we know that they are looking at the best interests of the world and trying to solve problems rather than stir them up. We see so many other countries—I could name one in particular—that, whenever they see a problem, like to try to make it worse, whereas when we see a problem we want to solve it. When we see something going wrong we want to put it right. The integrity and effectiveness of our international network and our network of ambassadors contributes enormously to the betterment of the world in that regard.