AN independent Scotland will have greater scrutiny and monitoring of the arms trade as part of plans to become a “global leader” in the protection of civilians, SNP MPs have pledged.

A new paper has been published setting out a series of proposals, including the creation of a dedicated unit to help prevent mass atrocities and mandatory annual training for defence forces on the protection of civilians in conflict.

It says that Scotland will continue the approach of being a welcoming nation for refugees, in contrast to the “senseless approach” of the UK Government.

The 14-page report states there will be a commitment of spending 0.7% of Gross National Income (GNI) on international development funding, in line with a UN target.

It says that the UK Government currently exports arms to 24 out of 31 countries on its human rights watchlist, including millions of pounds of arms licenses to Saudi Arabia despite its role in the Yemen civil war.

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Outlining the approach which will be taken after independence, the report states: “Scottish defence exports should not exacerbate instability or be used to commit or facilitate violations of international human rights and international humanitarian laws.

“To ensure this, there should be full transparency in, and effective parliamentary scrutiny over, all aspects of arms export licensing policy and practice.

“An independent assessment should be undertaken to evaluate the likely consequences of arms sales to human rights priority countries and provide advice to the Government before arms trade licenses are granted.”

The document was launched in Westminster on Wednesday by the SNP’s foreign affairs team, MPs Alyn Smith and Stewart McDonald.

Speaking ahead of the launch, Smith 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.

“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.”

Smith also urged the UK Government to look seriously at the recommendations made in the report.

He added: “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.”

The report concludes: “As Scotland moves closer to a referendum on its constitutional future, we will continue to hold the UK Government to account as it callously slashes international development funding and turns its back on some of the world’s most vulnerable people.

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"As such, it is important that when Scotland’s time comes to be a good global citizen on the international stage, it is willing, ready, and able to defend those who cannot defend themselves.”

The SNP said the report was produced following consultation with civic society organisations, including Airwars, which monitors conflicts and tracks and assesses reported civilian deaths.

Megan Karlshøj-Pedersen, policy specialist with Airwars, said: “With the release of their paper, Scotland is joining others in setting a new standard for how to protect civilians caught in conflict.

“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.”