Concordats and International Relations: Binding in Honour Only?

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Concordats were established to formalize working practices between the UK government and the administrations established in Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast after the devolution settlement of 1999. After an initial period of academic scrutiny the concordats have been largely forgotten in the academic literature on post-devolution intergovernmental relations (IGR) as relations between the UK and the devolved administrations settled into a relatively non-contentious pattern, perhaps the result of Labour’s dominance across the UK. More recently, that non-contentious pattern has started to fray at the edges. This paper examines a set of decisions leading up to the release of the Lockerbie bomber by the Scottish Executive on 20 August 2009. It argues that IGR, for the most part, did not function effectively because of a lack of willingness on the part of the UK government to work to the letter and the spirit of the concordats. While the concordats are intended to be binding ‘in honour only’ this paper argues that until the UK government affords the Scottish Executive parity of esteem, relations between London and Edinburgh will continue to suffer from moments of turbulence. The paper concludes by calling for a formalization of the system of IGR in post-devolution UK.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)61-85
Number of pages24
JournalRegional & Federal Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • Intergovernmental relations
  • international relations
  • concordats
  • devolution


Dive into the research topics of 'Concordats and International Relations: Binding in Honour Only?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this