Britain should be a country proud of its role overseas. We are a country of liberal, cooperative, compassionate values; our behaviour on the world stage should reflect that.
Sadly those values are under threat. Some mistakenly believe patriotism in our outlook must mean narrow nationalism.

Liberal Democrats demand better. We believe Britain, working with our partners, can be a positive actor supporting peace and security throughout the world.

This is a challenging time for peace and security across the world. Terrorist organisations prosper, the conflict in Syria continues to present a significant problem to the region and the world, and rising tensions between Russia and the USA threaten a longstanding balance of power.

The UK has a proud record of playing a leading role in the European Union and in international institutions like the UN, NATO and the Commonwealth and should continue to do so, promoting wherever possible the liberal values of freedom and opportunity for all.

Liberal Democrats will champion multilateral organisations like the UN and NATO to most effectively tackle our shared challenges, and take action to live up to our values where the Conservatives have not done so


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Continue to spend 0.7% of national income on aid: reducing poverty, defending human rights, protecting the environment and preventing violent conflict

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Defend international co-operation against the rising tides of nationalism and isolationism

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Suspend arms sales to Saudi Arabia and control arms exports to countries with poor human rights records

Liberal Democrats will:

  • Champion the rules-based international order, which provides a strong basis for multilateral action to address the world’s most pernicious problems including poverty, armed conflict, disease, climate change, and the abuse of human rights including forced marriage, so-called ‘honour’ killings, and Female Genital Mutilation.
  • Use all aspects of government policy – trade, aid and diplomacy as well as military cooperation – to strengthen UK efforts to prevent violent conflict.
  • Work with our international partners to address the ongoing refugee crisis, which has seen more people displaced across the world than ever before.
  • Support the UN principle of Responsibility to Protect, focusing on conflict prevention, and only resorting to military intervention to prevent mass civilian atrocities if all other means of resolution have been fully exhausted.
  • Improve control of arms exports by:
    - Implementing a policy of ‘presumption of denial’ for arms exports to countries listed as Human Rights Priority Countries in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s annual human rights report.
    - Enforcing end-user certification on all future arms export licenses with an annual report to Parliament on this certification.
    - Creating a public register of arms brokers.

Liberal Democrats believe that despite efforts to prevent violent conflict, sometimes military intervention is necessary. The UK should only militarily intervene when there is a clear legal and/or humanitarian case, endorsed by a vote in Parliament, working through international institutions whenever possible. We will encourage dialogue and mediation to reduce conflict between and within countries, working through the UN and other agencies.

In response to current major conflicts worldwide, we will:

  • Work with international partners to tackle violent extremism manifested by organisations like Daesh and Boko Haram, paying special attention to UK citizens who have fought overseas for terrorist organisations, and may become significant sources of terrorist activity if and when they return to Britain.
  • Seek new ways to bring an end to the conflict in Syria, working within the UN to break the deadlock in the Security Council. We will work to deter the use of chemical and conventional attacks on civilians, and demand humanitarian access and the release of political prisoners and their families.
  • Remain committed to a negotiated peace settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which includes a two-state solution. We condemn disproportionate force used by all sides. We condemn Hamas’ rocket attacks and other targeting of Israeli civilians. We condemn Israel’s continued illegal policy of settlement expansion, which undermines the possibility of a two-state solution. We support recognition of the independent State of Palestine as and when it will help the prospect of a two-state solution.
  • Suspend UK arms sales to Saudi Arabia in response to their consistent targeting of civilians, in breach of International Humanitarian Law, in Yemen. We will work with international partners to re-commence the peace process in Yemen.
  • Promote democracy and stability in Ukraine and neighbouring countries against an increasingly aggressive Russia. We will work closely with European and other international partners to exert maximum economic and political pressure on Russia to stop interfering in the affairs of sovereign Eastern European nations, and will stand by our obligations under the NATO treaty in the event of threats to NATO member states.

  More on the Liberal Democrat plan for international affairs