AN independent Scotland would be a "global leader in the protection of civilians", the SNP has said, with arms makers facing additional hurdles to exporting. 

A new report by the party’s foreign affairs team says there would be “full transparency”, parliamentary scrutiny and an “independent assessment” over each arms trade licence.

The report also says Scotland would “prevent atrocities” around the world.

An independent Scotland would also break with the “no comment” policy on special forces such as the SAS adopted by the UK Government, and make it easier for civilians and charities to report alleged abuse by soldiers.

The report was written by MPs Alyn Smith, Stewart McDonald and Chris Law, the SNP spokespersons on foreign affairs, defence and international trade respectively. 

The 14-page paper says an independent Scotland would spend more than £1.1billion a year of gross national income (0.7 per cent) on international development projects.

The aim would be to prevent conflicts erupting, protecting civilians if they do.

There would be a focus on atrocity prevention, climate change mitigation, a presumption against explosive weapons in populated areas, and more scrutiny of arms exports.

The report was produced after consultation with the not-for-profit company Airwars, which tracks and investigates civilian harm claims resulting from explosive weapons in war zones.

It emerged on the same day new figures showed Scotland's NHS is failing to protect people attending A&E, with a third of patients waiting more than the four-hour target. 

The Scottish Government’s jobs quango Scottish Enterprise gave almost £660,000 to arms makers based in Scotland last year, including Leonardo MV, Thales UK and Babcock Marine.

The SNP report criticised the UK Government for allowing arms exports to 24 of the 31 countries on its human rights watchlist last year, including £241m of arms licenses to Saudi Arabia despite its role in the humanitarian crisis in Yemen.

It said: “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.”

On preventing atrocities, the report said Scotland would learn from UK mistakes “by creating an atrocity analysis unit which works across government departments and provides internal coordination for responses, with foreign ministry staff be properly resourced to ensure they can provide a quick response to prevent atrocities”. 

It added: “ Embassy staff in countries at risk of atrocities should receive mandatory atrocity prevention training and there should be clear lines of communication between international partners to provide early warnings.”

Mr Smith, the MP for Stirling, 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. 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. As the UK Government looks to update the Integrated Review we would urge it to take these recommendations seriously.”

Megan Karlshøj-Pedersen, Policy Specialist with Airwars, added: “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.”