On September 18, Scottish voters between 16 and 18 will be eligible for the first time ever to vote in the referendum on whether Scotland will remain part of the UK or not. One aspect of the debate so far that has been overlooked by most of the interested groups on either side is the potential impact of the referendum result on the role that Scotland could play in international development.
The current Scottish Government’s White Paper, “Scotland’s Future”, commits an independent Scotland to maintain the UN target of 0.7% of national income to development aid and to work towards a figure of 1%, this has so far been given little attention in media discussion or by the “Better Together” campaign for the status quo.
This week sees the launch of Just Scotland? A Wee Country’s Response to Global Inequality and Injustice campaign website at www.justscotland.org which aims at ensuring young voters will consider the key qualities that should underpin Scotland’s involvement in international development issues and also decide on which issues should be given priority.
“Will Scotland have a bigger impact on world issues such as hunger and poverty as an independent state or continuing as part of the UK?
Is there any difference between how Scots see these issues and in how they respond to them and how Britain sees them? In what ways would a Scottish response be different to a British one?
Independent or not, what values should Scotland stand for in the world and how should these influence what is done?
If Scotland were to become independent, what do you think Scotland’s priorities regarding justice in the world should be, especially given that Scotland cannot do everything?”
By debating the issues of most importance to them, in schools or informal groups, young people can help ensure that the poorest members of the global community are not at best an afterthought or at worst an irrelevance to the debate taking place in Scotland. Using social media, young people are being supported to make submissions to the Just Scotland? website and representatives will be invited to present the collated views at a national event in Edinburgh in June.
Submission responses can be made in writing, as art work, posters, cartoons, videos or whatever medium suits a given group at www.justscotland.org/get-involved
Developed in partnership by the Conforti Institute, one of Scotland’s autonomous global education centres and 80:20 Educating and Acting for a Better World, the website is being supported by three of Scotland’s leading development aid and campaigning agencies, Christian Aid, Oxfam and SCIAF.
Website visitors can organise their own local events and debate international development priorities and agendas, drawing on resources developed in Scotland and Ireland to raise the profile of development aid and cooperation. These include:
- A 5 page summary document of the White Paper on ‘Scotland’s Future’ with key international development questions presented for consideration
- Key briefing documents on debating aid (its critics, a choice or a duty, its defenders, NGOs and aid etc)
- Different viewpoints from both sides of the independence referendum debates
- Educational support documents for doing debates in group work, motions for debates and 5 core reasons for debating international development
- Topic briefings as background reading on hunger, human rights, women & development and more.
Whether the referendum in Scotland on 18th September this year results in independence or a continuation of the United Kingdom in its current format, this is an opportunity for young people to make their views and priorities known to politicians and decision makers. You can follow developments on www.justscotland.org
Comment from out with Scotland would also be welcome.
Follow the Just Scotland campaign on Twitter @JustScotland
- Eligible voters have until the 6th September to register to vote – check the register here www.aboutmyvote.co.uk and get our friends and family ready to vote too
- Information on the referendum can be found at www.scotreferendum.com
- Scottish Government’s External Affairs and International Development programme news, updates and policy info www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/International/int-dev