Liberal Democrats Defence Policy

 Britain to share and pool resources with other EU and Nato members. Trident downgraded.

Britain in the world Global action for security and prosperity

In a more globalised, interdependent world, freedom for individuals is not best protected solely by the nation state. Corporations, banks and markets now operate across the globe with little respect for national borders. Climate change, one of the greatest challenges of our age, is by its nature global. And criminals,hackers and terrorists now operate across borders, too. It is in the interests of all countries to create a system of international law and governance, both treaty-based and multilateral,at the global level. We will ensure Britain actively and constructively works with our allies and partners in the European Union, Commonwealth,UN and NATO to engage with and develop policy responses when liberal internationalism and the rules-based system are challenged.

Liberal Democrats are internationalists because we respect the rights of human beings wherever they live and understand that by working together countries can achieve more than they can alone. This is particularly true for a country like the UK with a rich web of global relationships, which gives it the potential to wield greater influence than its economic or military power alone would permit. In a more globalised, interdependent world, freedom for individuals is not best protected solely by the nation state. Corporations, banks and markets now operate across the globe with little respect for national borders. Climate change, one of the greatest challenges of our age, is by its nature global. And criminals, hackers and terrorists now operate across borders, too. It is in the interests of all countries to create a system of international law and governance, both treaty-based and multilateral, at the global level.

Liberal Democrats have worked tirelessly in government to keep Britain at the heart of the European Union, to secure the best deal for British citizens. Our Ministers have represented the UK across the world on vital issues from climate change to nuclear disarmament and secured agreements that will keep us all safer, not least the International Arms Trade Treaty. We have stood up for human rights, the rule of international law and humanitarian aid, delivering for the first time on the 40 year old UN ambition for developed countries to spend 0.7% of national income as Official Development Assistance.

We will ensure Britain actively and constructively works with our allies and partners in the European Union, Commonwealth, UN and NATO to engage with and develop policy responses when liberal internationalism and the rules-based system are challenged.

11.1 Working for peace and security across the world

From the recent collapse of talks between Israelis and Palestinians to Russian interference in Ukraine, this is a challenging time for peace and security across the world. At times like these we need to redouble our diplomatic efforts and work closely with our EU and NATO partners to promote an active, rights-based foreign policy for our mutual defence.

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, wherever possible promoting our values of freedom and opportunity for all.

We will:

1. Use all aspects of government policy – trade, aid and diplomacy as well as military cooperation – to focus UK policy on conflict prevention. This will require a joint approach across the MOD, FCO, DFID and other departments, and we will continue to assess UK government actions for their impacts on conflict prevention and security. This will be a priority within the 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR), which should begin immediately after the election.

2. Engage with and strengthen multilateral UN and treaty-based institutions worldwide. 3. Support the UN principle of Responsibility to Protect. This principle focuses on the security of individuals, rather than states.

4. Improve control of arms exports by: Implementing a policy of ‘presumption of denial’ for arms exports to countries listed as countries of concern in the Foreign Office’s annual human rights report. Requiring end-user certification on all future arms export licenses with an annual report to Parliament on this certification.

Should all these institutions and policies fail, we recognise it will be necessary to consider military interventions to protect ourselves and fulfil our international obligations. However in these circumstances, Liberal Democrats believe the UK should intervene only when there is a clear legal and/or humanitarian case, endorsed by a vote in Parliament, working within the remit of international institutions wherever and whenever possible.

In response to current major conflicts worldwide, we will [ International Engagement Policy]:

1. Promote democracy and stability in Ukraine and neighbouring countries against an increasingly assertive Russia.

2. We will work closely with EU 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.

3. We will work with the EU to develop an EU energy strategy that will reduce reliance on Russia’s energy supplies.

4. Continue to work with international partners – Western, African and Arab – to tackle Islamic fanaticism embodied by organisations like the so-called Islamic State (IS) in Iraq and Syria and Boko Haram in Nigeria. These extremist organisations pervert Islam and carry out appalling atrocities against Muslims as well as non-Muslims. This is a generational challenge that will take time and patience.

5. We favour broadening the international Coalition against IS.

6. Recognising that air-strikes alone will not defeat IS, continue a comprehensive approach, in compliance with international law, to supporting the Iraqi government in standing against IS, including: Assistance in strengthening its democratic institutions. Training the Iraqi Security Forces and Kurdish Peshmerga fighters. Humanitarian relief to help alleviate the suffering of displaced Syrians and Iraqis.

7. Support the moderate opposition in Syria, who are fighting both President Bashar al-Assad and IS.

8. We will continue to push for an inclusive political transition in Syria, which would enable Syrian moderates from all sides to unite against extremism and tyranny.

9. Remain committed to a negotiated peace settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which includes a two-state solution. 1

0. 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.

11. Support multilateral negotiations to stop Iran obtaining nuclear weapons. We will continue to seek normalisation of our diplomatic relations with Iran, including reopening the British Embassy in Tehran and promoting peaceful dialogue between Iran and Saudi Arabia.

11.2 Our armed forces and security services [EU and Budget Policy]

The UK must be able to defend itself and the territories for which it has responsibility, support its neighbours and allies, and engage in humanitarian intervention. Many of the security challenges the UK faces are shared by our partners and allies in the EU and NATO and the UK is more effective and more resilient when we work closely with those partners.

Liberal Democrats are clear that the security offered by our continued membership of the EU is more crucial than ever, as are our bilateral relationships with our key European allies. We favour greater integration of military capabilities and procurement to address common problems, to overcome economic constraints and to maintain a full spectrum of defence capabilities. To achieve this, we will build on the treaty-based arrangements we have established and extend this cooperation to other suitable European partners. Liberal Democrats are committed to meeting our national and international obligations in security and defence. This is why in government over the last five years we met the NATO commitment to spend 2% of our GDP on defence, most recently restated in the Readiness Action Plan and Defence Industrial Pledge at the Wales NATO Summit in 2014. We are committed to completing a comprehensive Strategic Defence and Security Review early in the next Parliament to inform future defence spending decisions. We recognise that the world has changed fundamentally since the last such review. It is vital that our real security and defence needs and international obligations are considered in the SDSR, and this is why we wish to move towards a Single Security Budget.

We will: [Strategic Defence and Security Review and Nuclear policy]

1. Conduct a Strategic Defence and Security Review in which we will revisit and update the Future Force 2020 vision and ensure the capabilities we are invested in are relevant for keeping Britain safe.

2. Use the SDSR to establish a Single Security Budget, including not just conventional defence spending but the work of our security agencies, cyber defences and soft power interventions. The Single Security Budget will be distributed by the SDSR process, as part of an overall Spending Review. This integrated approach will ensure spending choices follow the capabilities we need, not traditional departmental silos.

3. Maintain strong and effective armed forces and the capability to deploy rapidly expeditionary forces.

4. Set long-term budgets to invest in the right equipment at competitive prices.

5. Recognise the expansion of warfare into the cybersphere, by investing in our security and intelligence services and acting to counter cyber attacks.

6. Remain fully engaged in international nuclear disarmament efforts.

7. Step down the nuclear ladder by procuring fewer Vanguard successor submarines and moving from continuous at sea deterrence to a contingency posture of regular patrols, enabling a surge to armed patrols when the international security context makes this appropriate. This would help us to fulfil our Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty commitments and reduce the UK nuclear warhead stockpile.

8. Work for new global standards to end the use of conventional explosive weapons with wide-area effects in populated areas.

9. Promote European defence integration where appropriate by enhancing European defence industry co-operation. Liberal Democrats recognise the vital role the UK’s armed forces play in the defence of the nation and believe that it is the role of government to safeguard the interests of service personnel and veterans. We strongly support the Armed Forces Covenant, now enshrined in law in the 2011 Armed Forces Act.

We also propose – [Veterans and Reserve Policy]:

1. Transferring the Office of the Veterans’ Minister to the Cabinet Office, so that the services of all departments can be marshalled in support of veterans and creating a post of Veterans’ Commissioner.

2. Improving support for personnel and veterans with mental health problems, including alcohol dependency.

3. Strengthening local military covenants by defining more exacting guidelines and ensuring best practice is rolled out across all Local Authorities.

The government in 2011 set a target for increasing the size of the Reserves to 30,000 but it is significantly behind in achieving this goal, with continued problems of retention. We acknowledge the different pressures that Reserves face and propose that:

1. Emphasis be put on improving retention and training of Reserves at current levels.

2. Employers be required to offer two weeks’ unpaid leave annually to assist Reserves attending training camps.