Green Party Defence Policy

“Immediate” nuclear disarmament, scrapping the Army and massive defence budget cuts. 

Peace & Defence

Last amendment September 2014


PD100 The nature of conflict in the twenty-first century is highly complex, involving state and non-state participants at every level. Much international conflict today arises directly or indirectly from the abuse of power by rich Northern nations.

PD101 Raging local conflicts have risen up the international agenda and attempts to address the conflict between peoples have varied in efficacy and moral justification. Particularly, there has been a predominance of peace-enforcement over conflict prevention in terms of priority and expenditure by developed nations, including our own.

PD102 The United Kingdom has not been under significant threat of armed invasion since 1941 and such an event is unlikely to occur in the foreseeable future.

General Principles

Common Security – Building a Culture of Trust

PD200 The citizens and communities within a green society will create for themselves rewarding work, adequate housing, material security, appropriate education, accessible and sensitive public services, a secure present and hope for the future, all within the framework of a sustainable, ecologically benign economy. The world we build for our children will not depend on exploitative economic relationships or on new roles for outdated security alliances, but on the acceptance of our global interdependence. The present environmental destruction threatens our common survival; we have no choice but to build common and co-operative responses.

PD201 Warfare in the context of present offensive weapon systems, nuclear or non-nuclear, is so dangerous that it can not be regarded as a sane instrument of policy. Common security measures seek to build trust and co-operation, to prevent destructive conflict, to build a just local and global society based upon fairness. In a Common Security framework potential adversaries co-operate to enhance each other’s security and well being, rather than competing for military advantage in a spiralling arms race. An important element of common security is the progressive reduction and eventual abolition by treaty of all offensive weaponry.

PD202 “Defence” is the protection of homeland against attack and does not justify pre-emptive strikes against nations and organisations. Military intervention for peacekeeping or conflict prevention cannot be justified unilaterally. It is irrational and immoral to continue activities that exacerbate threats to international and local security.


PD203 The first objective of all government policy must be to provide real, sustainable security effectively. Real security cannot be based upon a balance of nuclear terror, nor upon a global domination by a group of states operating largely from self-interest. Societies and their governments must instead address the real threats facing us, by engaging in ecological and socially sustainable practices, eradicating poverty, and by building trust between peoples.

Minimum Military Preparations; Proportionality

PD204 The defence budget needs to be adequate to ensure security, but no more so. Military preparations are a drain on our resources, as well as being a source of threat. Even peacetime military activities can have major impacts on communities, on the environment, and on a healthy democracy. All military capabilities and exercises should have specific military objectives built on real and credible threat scenarios. They should be proportional to the threat, sufficient to respond adequately, but not disproportionate.

PD205 Nuclear weapons are political weapons of terror, and are disproportionate to any threat. Further, since there is a finite possibility that the policy of nuclear deterrence will fail, and the ecological and social consequences of such a failure would be catastrophic, the deterrence system must be abandoned. The Green Party is committed to pursuing immediate and unconditional nuclear disarmament.

Minimum Intervention

PD206 Military intervention in disputes by external powers rarely solves the problem, and more often reinforces animosities. Emphasis at all times must be on forms of peaceful assistance to local and international organisations working to resolve conflict, to protect local culture and sustainable practices, to engage in genuine mediation and the building of strong democratic institutions, and to build links between the people within conflicting communities.

PD207 In those desperate situations when this becomes impossible and some form of military intervention involving UK forces is necessary in the immediate term to prevent conflict or extreme and sustained oppression, it must be under the auspices of the United Nations (UN) or within Europe under the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).

Legitimacy & Consistency with International Law

PD208 Any defence policy must be consistent with the values of the society it seeks to protect, or else it undermines those very values. A Green defence policy will be democratic, accountable, sustainable, and life-affirming. We are totally opposed to policies based on mass-killing or threatened mass-killing. It is contradictory to seek to defend a Green society by such means and such policies cannot form a valid and stable basis for a peaceful world. Any defence policy must be consistent with international law and the Charter of the United Nations.

Public accountability and active citizen participation

PD209 Defence decisions by a Green government will only be made after proper public debate based on the provision of the fullest possible information. Defence budgets must be published in such a way that the public can learn the costs of individual weapon systems at an early stage. No agreement or alliances with other nations should be entered into without prior parliamentary consent.

Short- and medium-term policies

Peace building

PD300 The policies espoused in the rest of this PSS are all intended to build a culture of trust among peoples, as well as the primary goals they proclaim. In particular, International (IP) and European (EU) policy is intended to create a world where regions collaborate where necessary and interact peaceably.

PD301 We would promote town twinning, exchange visits, and Internet-based methods for learning about other countries and cultures by direct contact. One of the main purposes of embassies would be to learn about culture and current affairs of their host countries by immersion in a wide variety of local activities. The UN should provide significant support for building effective law and order systems that are not affected by corruption, and for support of free and democratic elections.


PD302 On inspection, there is little or no threat of direct invasion of the UK by any nation. Commitment to a large standing army, a navy of large warships around our coastline, squadrons of fighter planes and a cripplingly expensive missile defence system is therefore unnecessary. Any threat of invasion that might arise in the future is so remote that realignment of the UK military and defence preparations would be possible long before any invasion occurred.

PD303 Similarly, the unhelpful and aggressive concept of nuclear deterrence (with the inherent dangers of handling concentrated radioactive substances) is also redundant. As such, immediate nuclear disarmament would be a priority of a Green Government.

PD304 The role for military personnel in defending sensitive establishments would also be reduced by the fact that they would be severely reduced in number. At present the military has a sizeable commitment to defending itself, particularly facilities related to nuclear weaponry.

PD305 A residual role for military personnel would exist in detection and apprehension of criminals attempting to by-pass customs and immigration. Green Party policy on drugs and migration, along with its contribution to a more equitable world society, would diminish this role too. Other duties would include policing fishing quotas, piracy and oceanic environmental regulations.

PD306 Such standing forces as are retained will sign up to a formal contract, which will include the following points:

  1. In exchange for putting their lives on the line when necessary for the security of the country, or in the protection of civilians of other countries in pursuit of the UN Responsibility to Protect, the State undertakes to respect and look after injured service personnel giving  them decent living standards, whether serving or not serving due to their injury, and to their dependents in the event of their being killed.
  2. All serving personnel will be required to sign a pledge that they will not obey any order which would entail any breach of international law. In particular they will be able to disobey any order that required them to fire on unarmed civilians of their own or any other country.

Democratic control

PD307 Military action must have the mandate of the UK Parliament. To support effective military action, this need be no more than an outline of the campaign but necessary speed of response is no excuse when Parliament can be called at a day’s notice.

PD308 We will therefore include in our Freedom of Information legislation, clauses to cover the provision of defence information, including a definition of what constitutes a threat to national security. We will also insist on the publication of the annual Defence Estimates in a more informative and detailed manner. Outside times of conflict, all military decisions and expenditure will be available for scrutiny by Parliament and the public.

Person power

PD309 We would reform the Territorial Army to become a body of both civilian and military volunteers, willing to contribute their services in times of domestic and international crisis. As such doctors, nurses, civil engineers, heavy plant drivers and administrators (for example) would be encouraged to make themselves available for reserve work. International volunteer work would be co-ordinated in Europe by the OSCE and further afield by the relevant body of the UN. The military component of the TA would become a larger proportion of the army’s overall numbers. This is in line with the aim of having a non-aggressive stance while retaining the ability to scale up the army’s strength if necessary. It would also root the army’s values more effectively within the values of the wider society it is tasked to protect.

PD310 Non-conscripted soldiers (and military sailors and air-crew) will still be required for permanent defence duties and participation in international peace-enforcement. The minimum age of recruitment to the Armed Forces will be 18 or older. All members of the Armed Forces will be entitled to the same rights as any civilian employee, including the rights to refuse orders on grounds of conscience and trade union membership. The responsibility and complexity of the military role envisaged by us will require a higher level of training than offered at present.

PD311 Expertise in the UK military in disaster support will continue to be offered for UN operations and harnessed in the training of civilian volunteers. We will aim to put a standing body of unarmed units, under the aegis of the UN, ready to respond to civil disasters such as floods, earthquakes and hurricanes.

Conversion of military industry

PD312 The Green Party is committed to the early conversion of economic, scientific and technological resources presently used to support the arms race, to socially useful and productive ends. Some military training areas should be decommissioned and used as nature reserves, with suitable provision for access by the public.

PD313 An imaginative programme of arms conversion could use many of the skills and resources at present tied up in military industry, to create new jobs and produce socially useful products. Conversion would also free research and development expertise and capital. New renewable energy industries, for instance, could be set up in the same area and use the same skills and resources as the existing arms industries e.g. wave power (shipbuilding), wind power (aerospace) and tidal power (power engineering).

Weapons of mass destruction and indiscriminate action

PD400 Weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons (see PD406-410) and biological weapons (see PD411-412) must be dismantled and banned by international agreement.

PD401 Mines (devices designed to be triggered by human activity, whether individuals, groups or vehicles), cluster-bombs and “booby-trap” devices cannot be used effectively without significant risk of death or injury to the civilian population, either during or after a period of conflict, and must therefore be banned international agreement.

PD402 In the absence of effective international agreements on the elimination of weapons of mass destruction and indiscriminate action, a Green Government would unilaterally dismantle and dispose of its stocks, while continuing to campaign for others to follow suit.

PD403 Deterrence is a self-sustaining policy that will only lead to escalating military expenditure. Deterrence with weapons of mass destruction relies on an unconscionable threat.

PD404 What underpins the law of armed conflict, is a prohibition against any form of indiscriminate attack. Nuclear deterrence however, is based on a commitment, at some levels of escalation, to destroy ‘enemy’ towns and cities. International lawyers state that the use of these weapons would be a breach of international law, as embodied in the Geneva and other conventions. The General Assembly of the United Nations also declared (in 1961) that the use of nuclear weapons is contrary to international law and the laws of humanity.

PD405 Threats to commit the crime of mass murder is itself a criminal act – thus threats to use weapons of mass destruction are a crime.

Nuclear weapons

PD406 The United Kingdom has many nuclear weapons and acts as the host for many more US nuclear weapons. We cannot condemn and attack countries for wishing to obtain weapons of mass destruction as long as we still possess them.

PD407 The Green Party rejects any reliance on nuclear weapons. This rejection means that we will decommission UK’s own nuclear weapons and insist on the removal of US nuclear bases. No further research will take place into nuclear weapons and the export of nuclear technology will be stopped. Ships carrying nuclear weapons will be banned from British ports.

PD408 We will mount an international information campaign explaining our non-nuclear policy. We will work for the worldwide cessation of nuclear weapons testing, development and deployment using new and existing international treaties.

PD409 US research programmes into “National Missile Defense” (NMD, or Star Wars I and II) have been an unmitigated failure. Even if the technological objectives of meeting intercontinental ballistic missiles with other missiles could be achieved, the expense and risk of continuing the arms race in this way would still make the programme unsupportable. Besides, NMD contravenes the 1992 Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty. We will not allow UK facilities to be used for any attempted implementation of NMD.

PD410 Some form of independent reassurance that these disarmament measures have been carried out is essential. We will reclassify the UK as a non-nuclear state under the terms of the Non-Proliferation Treaty and open the country to the appropriate international inspection agencies.

Chemical, neurological and biological weapons

PD411 Biological weapons have been banned, but stockpiling and research on chemical weapons continues. We will end all research into these weapons and work for the early completion of a Chemical Weapons’ Treaty. Existing reservations concerning the 1925 Geneva protocol will be renounced.

PD412 We will provide financial support for the urgent decommissioning of chemical weapons in the former Soviet Union.