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Liberal Democrats back plans to safeguard freedom and security

September 12, 2008 3:28 PM
Originally published by UK Liberal Democrats

The Liberal Democrat Autumn Conference today backed an ambitious long-term strategy to ensure Britain remains safe and free in the face of terrorism, climate change and an increasingly authoritarian Government.

The proposals, outlined in the policy paper Security and Liberty in a Globalised World, include: Addressing climate change by pushing for more ambitious post-Kyoto international emissions targets Cutting Britain's nuclear arsenal by 50%, and announcing its willingness to renounce Trident and any successor at the 2010 non-proliferation treaty review The development of European capabilities for conflict prevention and reconstruction, alongside greater cost-sharing between EU and NATO members for operations Initiating a comprehensive Strategic Security and Defence Review to ensure Britain's military capabilities are in line with its commitments Support for humanitarian intervention under UN authority, based on the Responsibility to Protect principle Establishing an International Leapfrog Fund to help developing countries invest in low-carbon technologies Ring-fencing parts of the MoD budget relating to forces' welfare, particularly in relation to improving and maintaining accommodation

Speaking in support of the motion, Liberal Democrat Shadow Foreign Secretary, Edward Davey said:

"Sticking to traditional British freedoms makes us stronger in the fight against terror - not weaker. Yielding to authoritarian measures of 42 days detention without charge is giving in to terrorists - not beating them. And adopting wartime measures like ID cards - at huge expense - is creating the Big Brother state this country has fought wars to prevent.

"Let Liberal Democrats be the first party to begin the campaign for a world without nuclear weapons. Universal nuclear disarmament is no longer a dream. It's a necessity.

"I've got news for Tony Blair, Senator McCain and David Cameron - the neo-Conservative approach does not work.

"Have they ever weighed up, the historic and long-lasting damage their Iraq war has done to our security? Does it ever occur to them, that their illegal Iraq war begat Russia's illegal invasion of Georgia?

"And on Iraq, if Gordon Brown cares for our country and for the brave men and women who serve our Queen and fight under our flag - he'll stop dithering and bring our troops home from Iraq by Christmas."

The full text of the motion is below.

F5 Security and Liberty in a Globalised World (Security Policy Paper)

Federal Policy Committee

Mover: Edward Davey MP (Liberal Democrat Shadow Foreign Secretary)

Summation: Dr Julie Smith (Chair, Policy Working Group)

Conference believes that Britain, its partners and its allies, face current and future threats that in combination undermine global security, including climate change and increased natural disasters; energy security; access to food and water; infectious disease; population growth and migration; violence within states, including civil wars; tensions between states, particularly over resource depletion; proliferation of all types of armaments including nuclear weapons; organised crossborder crime; terrorism and aggressive ideologies.

Conference believes that liberty must not be sacrificed on the altar of security and regrets the climate of fear that has been fostered by the approach of both Labour and the Conservatives to issues of domestic and international security.

Conference believes that liberty, justice and the separation of powers are essential to achieving lasting security and that abandoning liberties, particularly in the face of unconventional threats from criminals and terrorists, will only serve to make Britain both less free and less secure.

Conference endorses Policy Paper 86, Security and Liberty in a Globalised World, as a statement of Liberal Democrat policy to address these growing and diverse threats to Britain, its partners and allies.

Conference in particular believes that:

1. Working in cooperation with other states and international bodies is one of the key elements in ensuring Britain's security, and that Britain should therefore seek to work more effectively with its allies in the EU, NATO, the UN, the Commonwealth and other international bodies and respond to radical ideologies with a firm defence of democratic values combined with a willingness to engage in dialogue.

2. In order to provide the long-term framework within which democracy can grow and flourish across the world, Britain should promote, in partnership with like-minded states and governments, liberal and democratic values, including the rule of law, limited government, economic development with widely-dispersed ownership, education and civil society.

3. The British government should not compromise the underlying principles fundamental to society such as respect for human rights, the liberty of the individual and the rule of law in responding to threats to security; any emergency measures introduced to combat threats as they emerge should be clearly justified and limited in duration and application.

4. Rebuilding cohesive communities and reviving local democracy will be an effective defence against the fear and reality of crime, terror and natural disaster, including reversing the decline in local voluntary services and establishing a force of civilian reservists to rebuild local capabilities to cope with emergencies.

5. Achieving security for Britain will require action and reform at national, European and international level and that preventing conflict occurring is far preferable to intervention when crises have already emerged; and therefore supports:

a) The Responsibility to Protect principle: intervention for humanitarian reasons involving wide international participation under UN authority with reasonable and achievable aims and a clear and realistic exit strategy.

b) The development of EU capabilities for conflict prevention, conflict management, and post-conflict reconstruction, both civilian and military.

c) A more equitable system for financing EU and NATO operations where all members share the costs of operations.

d) Further integration of logistical support and defence procurement as the practical way to maintain effective capabilities without raising defence spending.

e) Support for Britain's continued commitment to Afghanistan, with priority to reconstruct viable institutions and the local and national economy.

6. Climate change, significantly shaped by human activities, is the greatest threat to Britain's long-term security and therefore supports Liberal Democrat proposals to:

a) Provide UK leadership for an international framework that will enable each country to manage the transition to a low-carbon economy, including working for agreement on a more ambitious set of targets in the negotiations for the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol and beyond.

b) Help developing countries to mitigate and adapt to climate change, including working for the establishment of an International Leapfrog Fund to invest in low-carbon technologies, energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies in developing countries.

c) Develop a low-carbon economy in the UK and the world including introducing credible and predictable mechanisms for pricing carbon.

7. Proliferation of weapons, including nuclear weapons, presents a profound threat to security, and therefore, building on previous Liberal Democrat policy, including conference motion The Future of Britain's Nuclear Deterrent (March 2007), that Britain should:

a) Reinvigorate multilateral arms reduction talks, particularly in small arms, putting in place more rigorous monitoring of arms exports and licence applications, ending export credit guarantees and the use of public money to promote arms sales, and reviewing antibribery legislation to expose and prevent corruption in arms sales by British and British based companies.

b) Support an international ban on landmines and encourage allies to negotiate, ratify and

implement a ban on the use of all cluster munitions.

c) Fulfill its obligation under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to negotiate in good faith towards nuclear disarmament through:

i) A major reduction of its nuclear arsenal by approximately 50%, retaining no more

than 100 warheads, with each Trident submarine carrying no more than 24 warheads

when on deterrence patrol.

ii) Announcing its willingness to renounce the Trident system and any successor by

agreement at the 2010 Non-Proliferation Treaty review.

d) Place its nuclear deterrent under international inspection and work towards a joint

negotiating position with France at the review conference.

8. Ensuring Britain's commitments are met both by effective strategic action and planning bringing together governmental security, defence, diplomatic, development and international environment decision-making structures supported by the appropriate balance of resources, including by:

a) Building on Britain's strengths in diplomacy as seen in the work of the Foreign and

Commonwealth Office and bodies such as the British Council.

b) Creating a clear diplomatic and political strategy by which development assistance is


c) Initiating a Strategic Security and Defence Review that would take in at least a 20-year

perspective and include close consultation with the US and the UK's European partners.

d) Ring-fencing the elements of the MoD budget relating to forces' welfare, particularly to modernisation and maintenance of accommodation; a thorough review of personnel policy should be integral to the investigations and conclusions of the new Strategic Security and Defence Review.

Applicability: Federal, except 4 (lines 29-32) which is England only.