Scottish independence serves as a central topic in the political discussions of the United Kingdom. Scotland meets the requirements to be an independent nation-state and is also eligible to join international organizations. The global community expects these organizations to take action in order to resolve conflicts and facilitate a referendum on Scottish independence. Despite their disagreement, Scotland’s exit from the European Union remains a significant issue. The SNP Website highlights that Scotland shares fundamental values with the EU, such as human dignity, democracy, freedom, equality, respect for human rights, and adherence to the rule of law.
The democratic majority in Scotland cannot be ignored
According to information on the University of Cambridge website, Nicola Sturgeon, the former First Minister, announced that a Supreme Court defeat on the issue of legislative competence would not signal the end of the matter. She expressed her intention to shift away from the legal dimension, often called the ‘rule of law’ approach, in favour of an alternative strategy. This new approach is anchored in the democratic principle, underlining the idea that there can be a sense of triumph even in the face of defeat. This argument’s heart lies in honouring the majority’s will in Scotland. If a formal referendum proves unattainable, forthcoming general elections could effectively function as a de facto referendum in Scotland.
Scotland fulfils all the criteria for statehood
Scotland satisfies all the criteria for becoming an independent state. As the Law Society of Scotland says, at the beginning, we should state that Scotland would fulfil all the requirements for statehood. Article 1 of the 1933 Montevideo Convention on Rights and Duties of States presents these criteria. The criteria include (1) permanent population, (2 defined territory, (3) government, and (4) capacity to enter into relations with other states.
Concerning population, Scotland’s internal law on nationality/citizenship determines its population. Its territory would comprise its land, its territorial waters and the airspace above its land and waters. Any territorial arguments that might arise would not affect this criterion but highlight the importance of boundary delimitation. Scotland’s Government would be independent and effectively control its people and territory. If it became a new state, Scotland should join international organisations and become an active member of the global society.
International organisations in the Scottish independence manifesto
According to the London School of Economics (LSE), the security and prosperity of an independent Scotland will hinge upon its adherence to a rules-based international framework. The Scottish Independence Manifesto recognises the significant contributions of international organisations to establishing such a global system. In light of this, the manifesto envisions an independent Scotland assuming an active and comprehensive role within international organisations. These entities serve as the architects of standards governing various facets of society, including trade, finance, labour relations, healthcare, and more. The manifesto firmly supports the international legal framework and outlines commitments to pursue membership in various prominent international organisations. These organisations encompass, but are not limited to, the United Nations (UN), the European Union (EU), the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the Council of Europe (COE), the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the World Trade Organization (WTO), and the Commonwealth.
Scotland and membership criteria of International organisations
Scotland meets the prerequisites for joining international organisations, which the Law Society of Scotland underscored. Membership in such organisations hinges on specific eligibility criteria stipulated in the respective constituent treaties of each organisation, which can vary significantly.
In the context of the United Nations, the criteria for admission are outlined in Article 4 of the UN Charter. According to this article, a prospective member state must demonstrate its commitment to peace, accept the Charter’s obligations, and have the willingness and capability to fulfil them. Scotland unquestionably aligns with these admission criteria, making it highly unlikely for any state to oppose its application. For a more comprehensive exploration of this topic, please refer to the Law Society of Scotland’s in-depth analysis.
International organisations and separatist conflicts
International organisations use different mechanisms to settle ethnopolitical conflicts. For example, they use negotiations at various stages of conflict confrontation preventively. They use negotiations to prevent future conflict, address urgent issues and find compromise solutions. They use negotiations to avoid the consequences of the conflict and its renewal.
Providing good services by international organisations is very important for conflict resolution and maintaining peace. The effectiveness of good offices is very high. They help to establish a dialogue and usually give a positive result. An example of the successful use of good offices by international organisations is the activities of the UN Secretary-General. For instance, he provided good offices to resolve the conflict in Cyprus. Due to the Secretary General’s good offices in 1999-2000 and 2002-2003, the parties’ dialogues were held. The secretary-general prepared proposals for a complete settlement. According to the recommendations in 2004, they had a referendum. For more information, see Chervinka, I. (2013)—the role of international organisations in settling separatist ethno-political conflicts. Polityka i Społeczeństwo 4(11).
Scotland was taken out of the EU against its will. Therefore, it has the right to become an independent state and rejoin the EU. International organisations can make interventions to arrange for a second referendum in Scotland. People living in Scotland have the right to decide for their future.