Scotland is to offer training to the Syrian women involved in building a lasting peace in the region.
Nicola Sturgeon announced she has accepted an invitation from the UN special envoy for Syria to host an international women’s summit, which will offer female peacemakers training in negotiation and communication.
The first minister said the initiative had emerged from a recent meeting with Staffan de Mistura, who suggested Scotland could play a useful role in the peace process through support for female peacemakers.
Sturgeon said: “In particular, he has asked for our support in training Syrian peacemakers in negotiation and communication skills to best prepare them to maximise their role in the talks.”
She added: “In recent months the world has been both touched by the plight of refugees fleeing the conflict in Syria and horrified by the terrorist atrocities of Daesh.
“Scotland is playing its role in welcoming refugees into our communities and we have also provided funding to help support aid agencies responding to the crisis in Syria and surrounding countries. However, we are also open to exploring other avenues to assist where we can.”
The exact details of the initiative are yet to be finalised.
Sturgeon said: “This is work which I hope can involve politicians across the political spectrum in the Scottish parliament, but most importantly can also play a small but important part in helping the people of Syria find a lasting peace.”
De Mistura said: “Women’s leadership and participation in conflict resolution are critical for sustainable solutions. The engagement of women in shaping the future of Syria is more important now than ever before.
“I am, therefore, glad that the Scottish government has agreed to work with the United Nations on this initiative.”
As further conflict in the region looms, Labour’s only Scottish MP, Ian Murray, suggested the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, should allow the party a free vote on Syria, arguing that the decision “must be above narrow party politics”.
Speaking to Scotland on Sunday, Murray, who said he is still deciding which way he will vote, said: “The primary concern is what action will best protect people in this country. We will also need to consider what we can do to help resolve the unfolding humanitarian and political disaster in the region. “These decisions should never be taken lightly and are the most important that politicians can ever take.”