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Saturday, 17 February, 2001, 18:26 GMT
Liberal Democrats: Foreign and defence

Find out more about Liberal Democrat policies on Foreign Affairs and Defence.


ARMS SALES

Liberal Democrats want to end government underwriting of arms sales to foreign regimes by scrapping the Export Credit Guarantee system.

The party also proposes establishing a Parliamentary arms export committee which would monitor sales and licences to third countries and produce an annual report.

Arms brokers would come under a more transparent EU code of conduct which would include the power to revoke licences.


ARMED FORCES

The party supports the idea of a British military which is flexible, mobile and rapidly deployable. The party is also a strong supporter of the proposed European Rapid Reaction Force but not at the expense of Nato.

It believes that the UK should be prepared to militarily play its part around the world and "honour commitments to Nato, the UN and the Commonwealth".

The Liberal Democrats support the retention of the UK's independent nuclear weapons capacity.


NATIONAL MISSILE DEFENCE

The Liberal Democrats are opposed to Missile defence proposals, arguing that they break commitments made in the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty.

The Liberal Democrats have argued that it would fracture the consensus on arms control and lead to a new missile race in Asia and also perhaps undermine the cohesion of the Nato alliance.


INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT

The party wants the UK to set a target for increasing overseas aid to the United Nations' recommended level of 0.7% of GDP within 10 years. It believes that the UK should lead international efforts on debt relief.

Links between aid and trade would be ended by the Liberal Democrats to ensure that aid is focused on an educational, environmental, poverty reduction and human rights agenda.

The party believes that there should be a Global Competition Authority to monitor an internationally agreed code affecting the business of transnational companies.

The party says that it will also lobby for a United Nations rapid reaction force which would draw on the expertise of aid agencies and the military to act swiftly in dealing with either natural or man-made disasters.

The party also advocates legislating to allow the prosecution of UK companies involved in bibery offences committed overseas.


UNITED NATIONS

Liberal Democrats want wholesale reform of the United Nations' Security Council. It proposes a UK-based peacekeeping training college and the formation of a UN rapid reaction force comprising both a military and a civil/NGO wing.

The party also wants to see the establishment of the International Criminal Court as soon as possible.


FOREIGN AFFAIRS

Middle East: The party strongly supports the peace process and believes that the European Union should offer to act as an honest broker.

Iraq: The policy of containment should stay in place but non-military sanctions against Iraq should end.

The Balkans: The party believes that it is right for western European powers to do all that they can to avert further humanitarian, military or civil crises in the Balkans. Over the past decades, Liberal Democrats have been highly critical of what they say has been the unwillingness of European governments to act swiftly when faced with crisis after crisis in the states that comprised the former Yugoslavia.

Sierra Leone: Liberal Democrats believe that British military intervention has been worthwhile and that withdrawal would be to "walk away from our responsibilities".

Russia: Liberal Democrats believe that Russia's leadership should do more to protect human rights, fight corruption, promote economic reform and advance the cause of nuclear disarmament.

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