Lib Dem internationalism in practice – a member’s perspective

Liberal Democrats stand for an open society receptive to new ideas, international trade, law-law rather than war-war, cooperation amongst nations, and universal human rights. Whilst proud to be British, we oppose isolationism, nationalism, protectionism and xenophobia for political gain. We recognise the difficulties of Britain’s colonial past and support making amends.

How do sentiments such as these translate into practice, internationally, and how can members become involved?

It’s a question which is often asked in all kinds of meetups.

The coordination of international activity is undertaken by the Federal International Relations Committee, (FIRC) which is one of the party’s governing, constitutional institutions.  FIRC has a sub-committee on EU exit, known by the acronym CEUB.

There is also a foreign policy group in parliament, and a foreign policy adviser to the Party Leader.

Policy Working Groups established by the Federal Policy Committee also frequently consider UK international policy – on economics, defence, Europe, international development and other dimensions. Such work frequently involves presenting policy motions for voting at party conferences.

Cooperation with other liberal-democratic parties in Europe and the rest of the world, including policy coordination, is mostly undertaken via Brussels-based ALDE, and Liberal International.

ALDE (Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe)  is a pan-European group of parties, from countries inside the EU and out. In the European Parliament there is a large grouping of liberal democratic parties (including ALDE parties) which is called Renew Europe.

Liberal International (LI) is the key global organisation of liberal-democratic parties and based in London.  LI has a significant human rights focus, with ‘agenda rights’ as an NGO at the United Nations Human Rights Council that meets in Geneva.

Liberal Democrat members with a strong interest in international affairs are recommended to subscribe to the Liberal International Newsletter, and to the ALDE mailing list.  Lib Dem members may also attend annual and bi-annual meetings of ALDE and LI, which take place in different cities each year (although this can be expensive depending on the location).

ALDE also has individual members as well as political party members, and membership is relatively inexpensive.

Liberal Democrats have a wide range of organisations concerned with international affairs that can be joined, and where ALDE and LI issues are often discussed. Most hold events and forums.

Liberal International British Group discusses UK foreign policy, holds Forums, and supports Liberal International in many ways.

Linked to FIRC and LIBG informally is the new think tank Paddy Ashdown Forum which focuses mainly on international and European issues.  It has a connection to the ALDE think tank, the European Liberal Forum (ELF).

Members interested in international development can join Liberal Democrats in International Development (LDID).    Members interested in EU policy can join Liberal Democrat European Group (LDEG) which organises a wide range of activities.

Across the party there are many organisations established to discuss a particular country, region or international issue; PalestineIsrael, China and others.

Young Liberals have international events and debates too, as does the Lib Dem lawyers body Rights Liberties Justice.

Important groups whose work has key international dimensions, include Liberal Democrats for Seekers of Sanctuary (LDSOS), and Liberal Democrats Campaign for  Race Equality (LDCRE)

Chinese Lib Dems is an example of a lively and active group, which has been unsurprisingly very busy of late helping the party.

There is a lot of inter-group cooperation and joint events. Subscribing to newsletters and joining organisations is a must. We hope you can contribute and add to our international affairs capacity.

* Paul Reynolds works with multilateral organisations as an independent adviser on international relations, economics, and senior governance.

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