Here, there and everywhere – a report back from Federal International Relations Committee…

So, (some of) you very kindly voted for me last year to serve for three years as a member of Federal International Relations Committee. And, as promised, I am reporting back on what I’ve done, as well as making a few comments on our recent meeting on 13 July.

I’ve spent much of the first half of 2017 bringing the Committee up to constitutional speed. I produced our first Standing Orders in January, and have since amended them to create some formal process for selecting our candidates for positions on the Bureaux of Liberal International and the ALDE Party, following a rather unfortunate incident earlier this year.

I have, on behalf of the Committee, reported back on our activities to both the Federal Board and Federal Conference – note that the language of the report you’ll read at Bournemouth is all mine (comments and brickbats welcome!), and you’ll have seen the odd report in these august pages previously.

In the absence of the International Officer, due to a clash of commitments, I organised our delegation to the ALDE Party Council meeting in Ljubljana, and played a central role in developing our strategy for contributing to its manifesto development process for the 2019 European Parliamentary elections.

I have attended the Liberal International Congress in Andorra, and the ALDE Party Council meeting in Ljubljana, and worked closely with the Party’s International Officer to ensure that key deadlines are met.

But, enough about me, what about the Committee, I hear you ask?

At our last meeting, I was impressed by the work done by our professional team, led by Harriet Shone, in negotiating a good settlement for the Westminster Foundation for Democracy, the hub of most of the training work rolled out to sister parties in developing democracies. Despite having reallocated virtually of the team’s capacity to the General Election campaign, including our two interns from Sweden and Finland, Niklas and Mikaela, whose efforts were invaluable, the show has been kept on the road.

Phil Bennion gave an interesting report on the work of the Human Rights Committee of the Liberal International, as well as circulating a fulsome report on the meeting of the Inter-Parliamentary Union in Dhaka, which he attended in the capacity of Liberal International’s observer.

I have been keen to open up our delegation to ALDE Party Congresses, and it was agreed that we will advertise for self-nominations during the summer, creating for the first time a standardised application form which will reflect the Party’s current diversity best practices so as to reduce the risk that we sent more delegations that are a bit too white and middle-class for my preference. Congress is in Amsterdam this year, in early December, so a proper selection process might be more important than in years past.

Paul Reynolds presented his thoughts on some policy priorities for the Committee given the new Party leadership and the possibility of another snap General Election. His priorities are Brexit, and closer liaison with our sister parties to ascertain what their thinking is on possible UK stances, UK/US relations, given the instability of the Trump administration, and relations with Saudi Arabia, given its influence on issues as diverse as the Qatar blockade and the war in Yemen. I tend to agree that these are very good starting points, and that we need to build a more robust relationship with Federal Policy Committee to enable better exchange of ideas.

The Committee will meet again at Conference in Bournemouth, where there will be a full agenda of international events and fringe meetings, co-ordinated and partly organised by our International Officer, Harriet Shone.

* Mark Valladares is a directly elected member of the Federal International Relations Committee

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This entry was posted in Europe / International, News and Party policy and internal matters.

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