UN: Scotland the 'perfect setting' for Syrian peace initiative

UN: Scotland the 'perfect setting' for Syrian peace initiative
UN Envoy Staffan de Mistura said Scotland would be an ideal location to host a Syrian women's peace initiative.
2 min read
16 May, 2016
De Mistura praised Scotland as 'a special case' [Getty]
Staffan de Mistura, UN special envoy for Syria, said on Sunday that Scotland would be the perfect setting for an upcoming peace initiative that supports Syrian women to engage in the country's peace process.

"The very special case of Scotland - currently with its own parliament and its own strong gender balance in government and the fact that the First Minister and two opposition leaders are women - were key motivating factors in helping set this up," de Mistura told The Herald.

The news that de Mistura had appointed a delegation of women specifically to contribute to the Geneva III peace talks was greeted enthusiastically by international officials.

Yet many Syrian activists have said that the twelve women appointed to the delegation were unrepresentative of those who have taken part in the Syrian uprising.

Ten of the Syrian board's members travelled to Edinburgh last week for four days of talks, including a two-day conference at the Scottish Parliament, according to The Herald.  

De Mistura declined to comment on speculation over whether this could suggest the potential of a future independent Scotland wielding "soft power".  

"What I do realise though is that even when you are not independent you do still have a very specific message to give that has international resonance, and you should do so," de Mistura told the Scottish daily.

"Even when I mention this to the UK foreign office they have a certain feeling of pride in the fact that Scotland is having this type of unique message."

De Mistura said that Scotland has provided a "remarkable" example of what women are able to achieve.

"When we came and the board were shown the example of Scotland, where women have made it to the top echelon and there is political stability, they were incredibly impressed," de Mistura said.

Some of the first Syrian refugees to arrive in the UK were settled in the Scottish highlands and the Scottish National Party has urged the London-based British government to do more to support Syrian refugees.