Liberals believe that the free market is a good servant but a bad master. We envisage a global market based on environmental values that are sustainable and non-polluting. Liberals accept that the privileged position of the “West” cannot continue and that a war must be waged against poverty to ensure a minimum standard of living for all.
Liberals would increase official aid to the Third World to 0.7% of GNP, and would negotiate the cancellation of Third World debt which is absorbing disproportionate amounts of those countries’ resources, thereby inhibiting their development. We would look at ways of extending Voluntary Service Overseas as part of the training of our young people.
Liberals support the wider use of Esperanto as a language for all governments and people who wish to use it.
Liberals deplore the fact that the present ruling global institutions such as the World Trade Organisation (WTO), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and others, are using their enormous power and influence for the growing enrichment and power of multinationals, banks, powerful and rich individuals, at the expense of our global environment, growing human misery and enslavement.
Liberals thus condemn the following callous decisions of the WTO:
- the WTO forced the EU to halt its preferential access to organically grown bananas, produced by small, vulnerable farmers in the Caribbean.
- the WTO ruled against the US embargo on tuna caught with methods lethal to dolphins, or the embargo against shrimps caught with methods that drown thousands of turtles.
- the WTO ruled in May 1997 that the EU ban on imports of beef produced with the artificial growth hormones was illegal.
Liberals believe that these decisions illustrate how the WTOs “trade at all cost” threatens the environment and vulnerable small “Third World” producers.
Liberals thus also condemn the secretive and highly influential actions of the IMF, the twin of the World Bank. The IMF medicine for “Third World” economies – reducing imports, boosting exports (natural resources such as forests are prime targets), cutting education and welfare programmes – has no environmental or social conscience at all.
Liberals thus equally condemn the aims of the OECD. The secret ongoing negotiations by its 29 members over the Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI) which were launched in 1995 with the aim of protecting the foreign investments of multinationals by outlawing all restrictions and controls that national governments might wish to impose through environmental or labour protection clauses, will make national government virtually irrelevant.
To combat this ruthless global “corporate protectionism” Liberals are calling for “people’s protectionism”, for democratic debates on global financial reforms which result in reducing the global sense of insecurity, by stopping the insane competitiveness where jobs are increasingly lost and wages and conditions cut in a ruthless “race to the bottom”.
Liberals realise that, historically, environment, development and consumer groups have tried an issue-specific approach, attempting to raise awareness or, and harness opposition to, this or that WTO or IMF horror story. Such approaches have failed.
Liberals believe that what is required instead is a widespread rejection of the present rules of free trade and global commerce. Liberals resolve to take this first step towards promoting such a demand by all those groupings at present fighting WTO, IMF and other anti-social, anti-environmental, anti-democratic and anti-human rights institutions.
The United Nations
Liberals support the work of the UN, if only for its work for the impoverished and underprivileged peoples of the world. We recognise that it is less successful politically, but even so, we see this as the only body that can police the Earth and take action to solve global environmental problems.
Liberals believe that the following reforms of the UN are needed:
- The reconstitution of the General Assembly so that members are representatives of the parliaments of member states;
- A second Assembly elected by people rather than by governments. Such an Assembly would have powers to endorse, amend or reject decisions of the existing General Assembly and its powers would be introduced progressively as the electoral process was increasingly implemented;
- The introduction of the right of the General Assembly to consider disputes and to either overrule or “sack” the Security Council;
- A revised Security Council without the present entrenchment of major powers’ right to veto nor any member’s right to “permanent” membership;
- Constitutional checks and balances which would enable the Secretary General to take urgent action to resolve disputes and, where such action commands widespread international support, to enforce the Geneva Conventions, thereby inhibiting capricious intervention which could be viewed as partisan;
- UN powers to implement internationally agreed environmental protection and revival policies and to intervene to prevent substantial damage to the world’s ecology;
- UN powers to assist in the development and maintenance of democracy;
- The recruitment of a permanent peace-building and peace-keeping force and of teams to assist existing and new UN agencies in their efforts to achieve development and environmental aims and to promote democratic institutions.
These are longer term goals and will take some years to implement in their entirety. Therefore, in order to try to deal with some of the present challenges facing the UN, Liberals envisage:
- all UN military action to be directly controlled by the UN through the Military Staff Committee as envisaged under the Treaty. This would correct the tendency, as seen in the Gulf conflict and Somalia, towards individual or groups of member states to hijack UN policy for their own ends;
- a system whereby armaments might be regulated in order to promote international peace with the least possible diversion of economic and human resources in favour of armaments.
We believe the UN should have armed forces from member states on stand-by and ready at its disposal. Deployment of such national units would remain subject to a veto by its appropriate national government.
We unreservedly condemned the atrocities of September 11, 2001 in the USA but opposed military action in Afghanistan and Iraq. We believed that air strikes against Kabul in retaliation for New York made as much sense as dropping bombs on Dundalk in retaliation for Omagh. Any policing action required to track down those perceived to be responsible for the US and other atrocities must be based on firm evidence and those apprehended should be subject to a fair trial under the provisions of the UN Charter in an International Court. The international community also needs to urgently address the issue of religious fundamentalism and civil liberties, with particular regard to the rights of women.
The Liberal Party is resigned to the likelihood of continued terrorist attacks and has called for Government to openly inform the general public of the dangers and action that ought to be taken under each circumstance; to undertake an urgent review of all infrastructures with a view to decentralising operations and providing backup systems; to phase out all nuclear power production as soon as is possible; to prohibit the further construction of any office towers or high rise structures. We also believe that, if we are to wage war on terrorism in the name of democracy, we ought to reform our own democratic processes to make them truly democratic and inclusive. What happened on September 11th 2001 should not be used as an excuse for further curbing civil liberties.
The Liberal Party opposes the European Union as currently constituted. In particular we oppose the concept of a Single European Currency, harmonisation of taxes and any move towards a Single European Army. Instead, we support the concept of a Commonwealth of Europe in which communities are free to operate their own economies, use their own currencies and levy their own taxes, while making common cause on matters of regional concern such as peace and the environment. The Liberal Party seeks to reform the European Union from within and recognises that the enlargement of the EU will have a substantial impact in stimulating trade and prosperity, will protect democracy and human rights and has already made a significant contribution to political stability and international security in Eastern Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean.
We call for a new and fully democratic structure under the control of the European Parliament. We require the adoption of a role which would guarantee human rights and the freedom of movement of people, ideas and goods, would act to save the environment, arbitrate in disputes and would encourage the separate nations to work together in matters of foreign policy, defence and overseas aid.
The Liberal Party supports the calls for a referendum to be held on the proposed new EU Constitution. The proposals contained in the Draft Constitution are inimical to the Liberal Party concept of a Commonwealth of Europe.
Self Determination for Gibraltar
Liberals believe that Gibraltarians have the inalienable right to self-determination and that ultimately they and they alone should choose their own future status whether or not this is decolonisation in any form. The Liberal party proposes the introduction of United Kingdom MPs to represent constituencies such as the Channel Islands, Falkland Islands and Gibraltar, subject to the wishes of the people of those communities.
The Liberal Party believes that the 2003 US/UK invasion of Iraq was wrong and illegal and was horrified that UK troops have been deployed for a seemingly indefinite period, with no clear exit strategy. It is now imperative that the Iraqi people are given every assistance to elect their own representatives and determine their own governmental structures. This should happen under the auspices of the United Nations who should provide any residual peace keeping forces that may be necessary.
The international community has not been as pro-active as it might have been during the post-war years in securing justice for the Palestinians and that much of the blame for what has happened in the Middle East rests with the UK. Liberals call on the British Government to actively and urgently promote Palestine’s entry into the United Nations as a full member and to propose that an invitation to join the Commonwealth be extended to Palestine immediately.
Liberals are deeply concerned by the People’s Republic of China’s continuing violation of Human Rights in China generally and Tibet in particular. We are highly critical of the British Government’s failure to link trade with China with human rights and by its uncritical approach to China. Liberals call on the Government to support resolutions condemning China’s record on human rights at the UN Commission for Human Rights in Geneva and elsewhere, to openly condemn human rights violations in Tibet and make the grant of UK aid and development assistance in the PRICE conditional upon China’s immediate ratification of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and the acceptance by China of the rights of Tibet, Taiwan and other People’s Republic of China minority nationalities to their rights in accordance with the UN Charter.