Addressing a delegation of European liberals from the European Liberal Forum (ELF – LI cooperating organisation) led by former Minister of Justice, Anna-Maja Henriksson, of the Swedish People's Party of Finland (SFP – LI full member) ahead of the third and final presidential debate on Wednesday 19th October, LI president, Dr. Juli Minoves, briefed the Europeans on the transatlantic implications of the US election, which will take place on 8 November, 2016.
Describing the challenges to liberalism in the context of the elections in Europe and America, ahead of the presidential debate in Las Vegas, Nevada, the LI president explained: "This American election raises many questions about the rise of populism in the west. I am glad that liberals from Europe participate in this transatlantic mission to reinforce links between defenders of freedom in the two continents. It follows our participation in the Democratic convention in Philadelphia this past month of July."
Convening in the Bolivian city of Santa Cruz de la Sierra on 14-15 October, LI President Dr. Juli Minoves addressed the Congress of LI cooperating organisation, Red Liberal de América Latina (RELIAL), the regional network of Latin American liberals, who also elected a new political leadership.
Delivering a keynote address to the Congress, the theme of which was “Liberals for Freedom of Expression”, Dr. Minoves called for “robust liberal responses from around the world to counter the erosion of democratic values that some leaders in all continents are peddling to their peoples.”
Acknowledging the threats to democracy from new authoritarianism, populism and extremism that we face in the 21st century, the LI president urges the Latin American liberals to fight to defend values shared by liberals worldwide: “Democracy is not to be taken for granted; we must keep the fight for our hard-fought freedoms. I am sure the new RELIAL bureau in Latin America will share this spirit”. In this vein, Dr. Minoves invited the congress delegates to contribute to the global consultation for drafting stages of the 2017 LI manifesto.
The LI president was also present for the election of the new bureau of RELIAL, including President Rocío Guijarro of Venezuela. Ms. Guijarro replaces Mr. Ricardo Lopez Murphy, a former government minister of Argentina.
Under the theme Freedom of Belief in an Era of Radicalization, the LI Human Rights Committee will convene for a second time this year, on Tuesday 6 December 2016, to discuss strategies to debunk the stigmatization of religious and in particular Muslim minorities when it comes to radicalization and violent extremism and, at the same time address, the fine line between freedom of speech and freedom of belief.
The highlight of the meeting will include a field visit to Molenbeek: a neighbourhood in Brussels known as the “radicalization hub” of Belgium. The visit will be hosted by the Mayor of the Municipality Ms. Françoise Schepmans (Mouvement Réformateur, LI full-member) at the Cultural Centre of Molenbeek, where she will provide an overview of the situation on the ground, alongside a local radicalization prevention officer and Mr. Jo De Ro, Member of Parliament and Former Deputy Mayor of Vilvoorde (Open VLD, LI full-member).
The second part of the event will take place at the European Parliament in Brussels upon the invitation of LI HRC Member Ilhan Kyuchyuk MEP (Movement for Rights and Freedom, LI full-member) and it will feature input from Mr. Adam Deen, Managing Director from the Quilliam Foundation and Dr. Solomon Passy, Former Foreign Minister of Bulgaria.
The former President of the ALDE Party Sir Graham Watson (Liberal Democrats, LI full-member) will host an evening reception for LI delegates attending the meeting at the Representative Office of Gibraltar in Brussels in his capacity as Head of the Gibraltarian Representation.
Ensaf Haidar, the wife of 2015 LI Prize for Freedom Laureate Raif Badawi, has been invited to the LI HRC meeting to receive the award on behalf of her husband.
The event aims to bring together human rights liberal parliamentarians, liberal politicians, diplomats and civil society representatives, while being co-hosted by the Friedrich Naumann Foundation, the ALDE Party (LI Cooperating Organisation), the ALDE Group (LI full-member) and the office of Ilhan Kyuchyuk MEP.
For more information, including registration and programme details, please contact the Head of LI Human Rights Programme Tamara Dancheva at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Following the event, the LI Human Rights Committee intends to publish a booklet which will summarize the key liberal viewpoints and positions on the concept of Freedom of Belief.
LI president of honour weighs in on US presidential electionsThursday 20 October 2016 13:10 Donald Trump lacks moral leadership, LI President of Honour Hans van Baalen MEP, has told an event hosted by the International Network of the VVD (LI full member - Netherlands) at the Hague Institute for Global Justice this week.
With the world’s attention centred on the race for the White House next month, Van Baalen has affirmed his position behind the Democrats’ Hillary Clinton, alongside the Dutch Minister of Defence, Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, and VVD chairman, Henry Keizer. The liberal European parliamentarian told guests: “Donald Trump has not been a man who has exercised moral leadership, who is fair, and who is able to bring people together.”
The debate, which focussed on transatlantic relations, also touched on the Brexit debate engulfing European politics and the pernicious influence Russian President, Vladimir Putin, is having on democracy across the continent. “Let us be honest, how much freedom is there [in] the empire of Vladimir Putin? If you do what he wants, you can do what you want. But if you oppose him, jail. […] How much freedom is there? It is a facade democracy”, President of Honour Van Baalen said.
A full audio recording of the debate can be found here.
Protecting the environment and finding innovative methods to roll back the devastating effects of climate change is a top priority for liberals in government and opposition around the world. LI is pleased to offer a unique opportunity to its membership – the first time an EC delegation will enter the COP site for debates with climate change experts and international representatives participating in the Summit.
Owing to strict UN security protocols, registrations received after the 30th October 2016 cannot be processed.
In addition to the COP debates and implementation of the Paris Accords, liberals in Marrakech will have much to discuss after this week’s signing of a historic climate change deal in Kigali, Rwanda. Ahead of the Executive Committee, and along with almost 200 other countries, EC patron, LI Vice-President, and Moroccan Minister of the Environment, Hakima el Haite, oversaw the signing of a historic climate change deal at a UN environment summit in Kigali, where countries committed themselves to preventing a 0.5°C increase in global warming by the end of the century. The deal comes following 7 years of negotiations, with Ms. El Haite describing the Kigali Amendment as the “largest climate breakthrough since Paris”, where, in 2015, Environment Ministers came together for COP21.
Taking place just weeks after the Moroccan elections in which the Islamist JPD emerged as the party with the largest number of votes, panels on populism and increasing the participation of women, youth and minorities in politics will be held in addition to much-anticipated meetings at the sight of the UN Climate Change Summit, COP22.
Entry to the UN Climate Change Summit COP22, which will bring together global foreign ministers and ministers of environment, is a central part of the EC programme. Entry to the COP site will only be available to delegates who have registered by the deadline 30 October.
A dedicated session will be held to discuss the latest draft of the 2017 LI manifesto on liberalism in the twenty-first century - the last statutory event where the LI membership will be able provide input before the 61st Congress in spring 2017 – LI’s 70th anniversary.
LI member partners and parties will also hold panels to debate fighting climate change and ending violence against women in politics, while the EC administrative session will vote on resolutions and the direction of the world federation of liberal parties for the next 6 months.
“Building strong and long-term coalitions is important to put an end to the violence against women, in particular on women active in politics and during election processes,” said Emil Kirjas, LI Secretary General after the talks with the National Democratic Institute – NDI (LI cooperating organisation) in Washington DC.
The meeting with NDI’s team on Gender, Women and Democracy built on the established cooperation between both organisations and focused on a shared priority: promotion of active involvement of women in politics and removal of barriers for gender balanced political environments. NDI and LI discussed follow up to the LI intervention at the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) calling on the Council to recognise that violence should not be the cost for women participating in politics and to take measures to prevent life-threatening acts.
“We agreed that together we will continue to pressure UNHRC to include this important matter in its mandate, that it reports on it and adopts measures that members states should honour. For our member parties across the world, this issue touches the very core of their work – for a society based on equal opportunities,” said LI Secretary General.
In the framework of LI’s Human Rights Project until the end of the year, LI and NDI will address the issue of ending violence against women in politics at various joint meetings, organised in the framework of the 135th Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), where LI sits as a permanent observer status, and at the 197th LI Executive Committee meeting in Marrakech.
LI President of Honour Hans Van Baalen MEP has addressed the annual LIBSEEN Leaders meeting, calling for an improved European security strategy and containment of Russian aggression towards the European Union's Eastern Neighbourhood.
Van Ballen, who is also President of the ALDE Party (LI cooperating organisation), expressed strong determination on behalf of LIBSEEN for continued support towards democracy and rule of law in the region, saying: "We are a European liberal group here and our major objective is to resolve issues through liberal routes, based on democratic values and principles. We need to stay committed and demonstrate that freedom is the most powerful identity of European Union, and it is extremely important to stop Russian expansion policy."
Member of LI Human Rights Committee and Vice-President on the ALDE Party Bureau Ilhan Kyuchyuk MEP (MRF, LI full-member)echoed the position of the LI President of Honour stressing the importance of continued European integration and cooperation for the resolution of key geopolitical challenges. "The new geopolitical realities and the turbulences in the region oblige us to deepen our cooperation, because only with common approach we can tackle these challenges. The relationship between Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia and the EU is often political as well as economic, but the security component cannot be underestimated. By deepening the European integration, this part of Europe will be more stable and prosperous. I am absolutely convinced that the association agenda, if duly implemented, will open up new opportunities and ALDE party will continue to work to see these three countries part of the European Union" he stated.
The meeting featured a Liberal Leaders panel discussing the challenges of European security strategy after Russia’s annexation of Crimea and possible trajectories of EU–Russia relations, which saw the participation of LIBSEEN Network coordinator Goran Neralić, the leader of the Liberal Party of Moldova and candidate for President of Moldova Mihai Ghimpu, the President of the Civic Position and former Ukrainian Minister of Defence Anatoly Grytsenko and the Mayor of Chisinau and Senior Vice President of the Liberal Party Dorin Chirtoaca.
The meeting was organised in cooperation with Partidul Liberal of Moldova (ALDE Party member) and with the support of the ALDE Party, VVD (LI full-member) and the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom (LI cooperating organisation).
Due to high demand for hotel accommodations during the UN Climate Change Conference, COP22, the number of rooms is strictly limited and will be offered on a first-come, first-served basis.
Friday 7 October is the last day for booking your accommodation at the hotel.
The hotel is offering a discounted rate of 100 EUR/night, including breakfast and taxes. For more information and to take advantage of this offer, please contact your party’s international officer or LI’s Event Organiser, Mr. Alessandro Bilotta: email@example.com
LI Secretariat welcomes new intern Kwabena AgyareWednesday 5 October 2016 12:10 The Liberal International Secretariat in London is pleased to welcome its latest intern, Kwabena Agyare. Kwabena will be spending the next two months at Liberal International as a Hansard Scholars Intern, before returning to Northeastern University in Boston, USA, to complete his Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and Communications Studies.
Kwabena brings his international work experience to the LI office. Prior to working with LI, Kwabena worked as an intern for an MP in the House of Commons. Additionally, he worked as a constituent advocate in the Mayor’s Office of Constituent Services in Boston, USA. Most recently, he completed a broadcast journalism internship for a radio station in Ghana covering issues pertaining to domestic policy and the build-up to presidential elections.
With a keen interest in political communications, Kwabena will provide a broad range of support within the secretariat team, including an administrative role in the development of the 2017 Oxford Manifesto drafting process and with the preparations for the upcoming 197th Executive Committee meeting from 11-13th November.
Kwabena will be with the secretariat until December 2016.
LI convenes liberals for second annual meeting in New YorkThursday 29 September 2016 19:09For the second consecutive year, Liberal International has brought together prominent liberals and leaders from six regions of the world, for a raft of meetings between top politicians and senior UN diplomats in the margin of the UN General Assembly opening in New York City.
Liberals from Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, North Africa and North America, were welcomed to New York by LI President Dr. Juli Minoves, at a meeting of the 2017 LI manifesto drafting committee. Dr. Minoves and LI Deputy President, Helen Zille, described the challenges facing liberalism in the twenty-first century and the key ingredients for making equal, prosperous and stable countries in the coming decades.
Ahead of the 197th Executive Committee meeting, which will take place 11-13 November on the African continent, HE Alassane Ouattara, President of Cote d’Ivoire, highlighted climate change and sustainable democracy as priorities for the upcoming LI manifesto, while declaring to his LI guests that Cote d’Ivoire will be competing for a place on the United Nations Security Council in 2018-19.
- President Alassane Ouattara recieves the Liberal International delegation
Building on a record of the strong cooperation established with the Office of the United Nations Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, an LI delegation led by LI President Dr. Juli Minoves met with His Excellency Ivan Simonovic to discuss common areas of work, from eradicating the death penalty to the Responsibility to Protect (RtoP) principle.
Dr. Minoves used the opportunity to congratulate H.E. Simonovic on his appointment as the new UN Special Advisor on the Responsibility to Protect and pledged to work together to raise the global awareness about the principle and other common objectives under the framework of LI Human Rights Programme.
Highlighting some of the key goals for his upcoming mandate, the new UN Special Advisor explained that he would like to focus on the operational aspect of his work with regular briefings on country situations to the UN Security Council. "There are big challenges to preventing human rights violations at the moment but I believe that the newly introduced Kigali principles on the protection of civilians are a step in the right direction," he concluded.
LI Deputy President Helen Zille cautioned of the difficulties surrounding a decision to execute a military intervention on humanitarian grounds, whileLI Vice-President Baroness Kishwer Falknerinquired into the possibility of conducting a UN study on hypothetical cases of RtoP implementation as to assess the challenges and opportunities better. Also contributing to the meeting was CALD (LI cooperating organisation) chairperson, Dr. Oyun Sanjaasuren.
The meeting took place on the fringes of the Liberal Leaders meeting in New York held during the margin of the United Nations General Assembly.
The UN Assistant Secretary General for Human Rights also took the opportunity to present the LI delegation with two of his latest human rights publications (pictured below).
Violence should not be the cost of women participating in politics, LI tells UN Human Rights CouncilThursday 29 September 2016 15:09Addressing the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland, Liberal International Human Rights Committee member, Åsa Söderström of the Swedish International Liberal Centre (SILC – LI cooperating organisation), an international development foundation, called on the UNHRC to recognise that violence should not be the cost for women participating in politics and to take measures to prevent sometimes life-threatening acts.
Supporting the National Democratic Institute’s (NDI – LI cooperating organisation) campaign #NotTheCost, established by former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, which seeks to promote awareness of violence against women in politics, Ms. Söderström recalled numerous recent incidents in which female politicians have been attacked.
"Liberal International knows too well the dangers female voters, local politicians and parliamentarians face ranging from harassment, abuse, and even murder," Ms. Söderström said, as she highlighted the various methods employed to discourage women from participating in politics and therefore violating their democratic rights.
- At the UN Human Rights Council Åsa Söderström speaks out against violence against women
The oral statement was delivered shortly after Liberal International’s written statement to the United Nations concerning the erosion of democratic values in Zanzibar which hit headlines across Tanzania.
The recently released 6th Edition of Liberal International's quarterly Human Rights Bulletin has cracked open the debate surrounding the Responsibility to Protect (RtoP) principle ten years after it was adopted by the international community. This edition features an exclusive interview with the formerly imprisoned Al-Jazeera journalist and founder of the Fahmy Foundation for Free Speech, Mohamed Fahmy.
In an op-ed co-authored by LI President, Dr. Juli Minoves, Fahmy appealed to liberals in government and in opposition to safeguard journalists and the right to freedom of expression around the world, while calling on the United Nations to create the position of a Special Representative for the Safety of Journalists. Highlighting the urgency of the issue, he said: "Despite numerous resolutions adopted on this monumental issue in the past decade, including by the UN Security Council and the UN General Assembly, illiberal governments and extremist groups have been increasingly targeting reporters leaving almost no neutral ground to report freely and safely- a fundamental core of democracy. In order to implement these binding laws only a Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Protection of Journalists, working closely and swiftly with a mandate applicable to that of the UN Secretary General, will bring the much needed political experience and legitimacy to extract and help targeted journalists. This special envoy will bear the main responsibility of monitoring compliance by UN member states within their obligations under international law."
The Bulletin has also presented the views of one of the leading academics in the field, Dr. Alex Bellamy, Director of the Asia-Pacific Center for RtoP at the University of Queensland (Australia), who stressed that RtoP was always meant to be a challenge but exposing the gap between rhetoric and reality is a first step towards closing the gap. "R2P is a challenge to world leaders, though leaders and civil society actors alike. It is not a self-implementing panacea to the world’s problems. Whether or not the international community fulfils its commitment depends entirely on the choices we make. But unless those that champion the principle most loudly do more to support its realisation, more and more people will begin to ask whether world leaders really meant it when they promised an end to genocide and mass atrocities," he said.
The last section includes a short video from the LI Human Rights Committee meeting commemorating the ten year anniversary of the RtoP principle with commentary from two key participants in the debate: Angela Patnode from the International Coalition for RtoP and Jonas Claes from the United States Institute of Peace.
The full edition can be accessed by clicking here.
Registration opens for 197th EC meeting in MarrakechThursday 29 September 2016 13:09Registration opens at 12:01 BST today for Liberal International’s 197thExecutive Committee meeting - six weeks before liberal parliamentarians and representatives of LI member parties from around the world come together in Marrakech, Morocco. The EC is set to take place in the margin of the UN Climate Change conference, COP22, and shortly after national elections across Morocco are completed.
In order to register for the EC, please follow this link. To complete the registration of your party's delegation, please contact your party’s international officer or Mr. Alessandro Bilotta at the LI Secretariat to obtain the needed passcode to access the registration page.
The EC is held at the invitation of Morocco’s Minister of the Environment and LI Vice-President, Hakima el Haite, and will be hosted by LI’s three member parties in Morocco, Mouvement Populaire, Union Constitutionelle, Rassemblement National des Indépendants.
Liberals will contribute to the debate on global challenges to liberalism, in particular climate change, which will inform the final drafting stages of the 2017 Liberal International manifesto. Please check the dedicated EC page on the LI website for updates and more information about the programme, venue and logistical preparations.
Registration for the Executive Committee (EC) will open on Friday 30th September via a link on the LI website. Similar to the 196th EC, member party representatives will need to click through the link to register using the EventBrite page.
With political deadlines passing, member parties are reminded to check the dedicated EC page on the LI website regularly. The page, available here, will be updated with information about the venue, accommodation, statutory deadlines, and EC programme.
The EC will convene within the margin of the UN’s global climate change summit, COP 22, upon the invitation of Morocco’s Minister of Environment and LI Vice-President, Hakima El Haite. The liberal meeting is hosted by LI member parties in Morocco: Mouvement Populaire, Rassemblement National des Indépendants and Union Constitutionelle.
LI applauds liberal heroes to mark International Day of DemocracyThursday 15 September 2016 16:09On the United Nations International Day of Democracy, Thursday 15th September, Liberal International applauds the liberal democratic heroes around the world who are constantly fighting for freedom amid oppressive and often dangerous conditions in their home countries.
The International Day of Democracy is an opportunity to reflect on the global status of democratic advancement. This year, the Day centred on the theme: ‘Democracy and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development’, marking the one year anniversary of the adoption of the sustainable development goals (SDGs) the aim to advance social conditions for millions of people over the coming 15 years by improving governance. One of the SDG’s includes democracy and the aim of building effective, inclusive and accountable institutions at all levels.
Григорий Явлинский (Grigory Yavlinsky), founder of the Russian liberals Партия Яблоко (Yabloko), has been an ardent critic of the democratic deficit in Russia under Vladimir Putin and has seen his party subject to arbitrary investigations and attacks.
At LI’s most recent congress in #MexicoCity, liberals from around the world participate in a process that is often denied to so many.
Dr. Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, leader of LI member Parti Keadilan Rakyat, has been campaigning for the release of her husband Anwar Ibrahim, after the former Deputy Prime Minister was arrested on politically motivated charges, which prevented him from contesting an election he was widely expected to win.
In a written statement submitted to the 33rd Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), Liberal International (LI) has called on the international community to increase the pressure on the Tanzanian government to ceasethe exponential human rights abuses and suppression of political and civil rights on the island.
The statement comes in the aftermath of widespread abuses against the opposition, civil society and pro-democracy activists, which has been on-going since the unconstitutional annulment of the 25 October 2015 general elections in the country. Detailing the political witch-hunt, LI's position on the issue before the UNHRC commits liberal parliamentarians in government and in opposition across the world to take a firm stand in their parliaments and speak up against the indecent treatments of opposition leaders and supporters in Zanzibar.
In a recent meeting with the LI Secretariat at their Headquarters in London, the Secretary-General of the Civic United Front(CUF – LI full member), Seif Sharif Hamadhas expressed his profound concern about the violation of basic rights and democratic principles in Zanzibar and called on the international community "to recognise and act to prevent the potential instability that the denial of democracy might lead to in an already volatile region."
As a leader of the Tanzanian liberal opposition whose victory in the general elections was unlawfully denied, Hamad continues to be a target of President John Magufuli's regime most recently receiving verbal threats that he might be facing the possibility of an arrest.
Canadian Liberal MP and champion of human rights visits LIThursday 15 September 2016 13:09Robert Oliphant, a senior Member of Parliament from Liberal Party of Canada(LPC – LI full member) was at LI headquarters last week to meet with the Secretary General Emil Kirjasand the team, as well as with Sir Simon Hughes, former UK Minister of Justice and Deputy Leader of Liberal Democrats (2010-2014). He discussed the great changes Canada's liberals are making in government.
“Liberal International does exceptional work promoting liberal democracy and strengthening liberal parties across the globe,” said Mr Oliphant. He thanked the LI team for the their current work, commenting: “For almost 60 years, LI has been making connections among liberals, promoting best practices and providing communications and political expertise to ensure that the liberal values of human and civil rights, cooperation, dignity and fairness are promoted throughout the world. I hope that the Liberal Party of Canada and I can continue to connect and contribute to liberal democracy through our engagement with Liberal International.”
Mr. Oliphant, an ordained Minister of the United Church, visited the UK to attend an eventon “Opportunities and challenges: the intersection of faith and human rights of LGBTI+ persons” organised by the prestigious UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office not-for-profit executive agency Wilton Park. The meeting brought together over 60 people including faith communities, LGBTI and human rights advocates, selected governments, international institutions and regional organisations. LGBTI rights and anti-discrimination are among the four key priorities of LI’s Human Rights work.
Democracy and rule of law must be restored in NicaraguaFriday 9 September 2016 12:09Liberals continue leading pressure applied by the international community on the Sandinista regime in Nicaragua to end suppression of democracy. In the European Parliament, the liberal democrats from the ALDE Group (LI full member) have condemned the undemocratic behaviour of the Nicaraguan President,Daniel Ortega, following the exclusion of 28 opposition MPs from the National Parliament.
On behalf of the ALDE Group, Hans van Baalen MEP, coordinator in the Foreign Affairs Committee who visited Nicaragua on the invitation of the united opposition in 2009 as president of Liberal International, said: “Nothing has changed for the better in recent years. Ortega was a dictator and has become an even stronger one. It is in the interest of the Nicaraguan people and its international partners that Nicaragua becomes a normal democracy.”
The statement by Van Baalen echoes the position of LI PresidentDr. Juli Minoves who described Nicaragua “now a democracy in name only” and expressed concern over the rise of illiberalism globally. Liberals across the world have reacted to the Sandinista’s actions of turning Nicaragua into a single-party state by stripping liberal parliamentarians – the largest opposition group – of their power in parliament. These targeted MPs are linked to Eduardo Montealegre, Vice-President of the Liberal International, ex-leader of the Independent Liberal Party (PLI) and one of the main political enemies of Daniel Ortega.
The Regional Network of Liberals in Latin America (RELIAL) and important international organisations have called for greater global attention to the power-grab by the authoritarian leader ahead of elections in November.
Hong Kong’s Democratic Party (HKDP) emerged victorious at the elections for the Hong Kong parliament and will have the largest group of legislators (7) in the pro-democracy caucus of the Legislative Council (LegCo). They played an important role in the rejuvenation of the political landscape and in the success of the pro-democracy camp to achieve a veto right in the LegCo.
Emily Lau, Leader of the Democratic Party, who opened for the 193rd LI Executive Committee in Hong Kong in November 2014, analysed the results with “great hope” that “will motivate Beijing to let Hong Kong develop itself on its own under 1-country-2-systems”, and “to allow genuine democracy to develop”. Emily Lau showed leadership by stepping down from the LegCo, allowing a young party member to take the parliamentary seat.
In an exclusive interview for the Friedrich Naumann Foundation, DP Legislator Chung-kai Sin expressed satisfaction with the results. He said: “We are the largest opposition party in the new Legislative Council. Overall, as an opposition we have gained three seats and now represent 30 deputies. The most important thing on our agenda now is to prevent a further term of [the Hong Kong Chief Executive] CY Leung.” Expressing belief that the election result will have no impact on the relations of Hong Kong with the rest of the world, Mr. Sin cautioned: “If Beijing continues its tough line on Hong Kong, the relationship between Hong Kong and Beijing will deteriorate and the tensions will increase.”
In the autumn of 2014, Liberal International was the first political international on the ground to support democracy in Hong Kong. After spending time with the student protestors from the Umbrella Movement, Liberal International issued a presidential statement in which it concluded that it “has seen first-hand that the protests are genuine” and they are “a clear demonstration of Hong Kong people's desire for democracy.” LI President Dr. Juli Minoves told the media: “We are here to show our solidarity to these great [young people]. They’re young, they’re risking a lot… and it gives us a lot of courage to go back to our own countries… and be more courageous as politicians.”
A number of those young leaders are now elected members of the LegCo.
HKDP is a liberal party which shares the values of Liberal International, but is precluded from membership in international political organisations based on the constitutional provisions of the Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China. Its past president and iconic pro-democracy fighter Martin Lee is the sole individual member of Liberal International.
The Kenzi Farah hotel has been selected as the EC venue and LI is arranging a room block at a preferential rate to offer the opportunity to the delegates to stay where the event will take place, with further information set to be provided in the coming days. The conference venue was used by the Africa Liberal Network (ALN – LI cooperating organisation) for their 11th annual General Assembly, which resulted in the adoption of a Human Rights Declaration. The Assembly was attended by over 90 delegates from around the world, including LI President,Dr. Juli Minoves, who discussed the global challenges to liberalism and future opportunities.
The 197th EC, which will have a special focus on the liberal approach to environmental policies fighting global warming, will draw together parliamentarians and liberals from around the world to discuss the 2017 Liberal Manifesto in the last statutory event ahead of the next LI Congress. The meeting will be convened in close cooperation with all LI members and partners in the region, including LI's three member parties Mouvement Populaire, Union Constitutionelle (LI full-member), Rassemblement National des Indépendants(RNI - LI member), Friedrich Naumann Foundation (LI cooperating organisation) and LI's regional organisations.
Alongside the EC, COP22 is taking place from 7-18 November in Marrakech, where the discussion will also focus on implementing the agreements signed up to by participant countries at COP21 in Paris, France last year.
An LI delegation was received by the Director of the Political Board of Union Constitutionelle, Mohammed Tamaldou, in July during a preparatory visit for the upcoming EC.
The previous Executive Committee convened in Tbilisi, Georgia from 20-22 May, 2016 and focused on ‘Safeguarding Freedom and Security’.
Following theDemocratic Alliance's (DA – LI full-member) staggering gains in the recent local elections, Athol Trollip, Solly Msimangaand Herman Mashabahave now been elected as the new DA mayors of Nelson-Mandela Bay, Tshwane and Johannesburg, respectively.
Breaking the governing ANC party strongholds for the first time since apartheid ended in the country in 1994, the DA has emerged as the strongest opposition force in the country.
Commenting on the incredible success and his future plans as Mayor, Mashaba said: “I am honoured and deeply humbled to be elected as the new Executive Major of Johannesburg. The residents of our city called out for change that would once again get Johannesburg working again. Our vision is centered around our promise to create jobs, deliver better services and eliminate corruption. I want Johannesburg to be a city that empowers young entrepreneurs so they are given every opportunity to succeed.”
Back in April, Mr. Mashaba was in London on an official visit alongside party leader Mmusi Maimane to discuss the DA’s vision and mission for making Johannesburg “Africa’s leading business and cultural city”.
“It’s now time to get Johannesburg working again […] Together we will make this a city of golden opportunities,” concluded the new DA Major of Johannesburg.
Prominent leaders and liberals have expressed their respect for the Liberal International Patron and former German President Walter Scheel, who passed away at the age of 97 on 24 August, 2016. Saying that "he remains an inspiration", LI President Dr. Juli Minoves offered his condolences to his family and party, the German Freie Demokratische Partei (FDP – LI full member).
Dr. Minoves issued a statement saying: "Walter Scheel, our late Patron, believed throughout his long life in liberal policies of openness and inclusiveness. He remains an inspiration. He was a leader who fought hard for internationalism and cooperation in Germany, Europe and the world. He was, as Patron, very fond of Liberal International. Today, we honour his memory and his legacy."
For LI Vice-President and Chairman of the LI Human Rights Committee, Markus Löning, Water Scheel was a "role-model" for he was "cosmopolitan, optimistic, and for a modern society."
FDP leader, Christian Lindner, praised the achievements of the fourth President of the Federal Republic of Germany: "Without Scheel, there would have been new 'Ostpolitik' [of openness towards East Germany] and more social liberalism. We and our country owe him a lot."
LI cooperating organisation Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Libertyexpressed great sadness for the death of its Honorary Chairman of the Board of Trustees, saying that "liberalism and Germany lost an outstanding personality that has decisively shaped the destiny of our country."
Walter Scheel served as Foreign Minister, Vice Chancellor, Acting Chancellor and President of FR Germany. He was also Germany’s first Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development. Sheel was elected FDP Chairman in 1968 and was known for his policy of reconciliation with the communist bloc.
Less than two weeks remain for Liberal International members to nominate a human rights hero for the LI Prize for Freedom – LI’s top award for global human rights defenders, awarded annually. Member parties can, through their international officer, nominate a candidate who has made an exceptional contribution to the advancement and promotion of human rights and political freedoms. The deadline is Thursday 1st September 2016.
Awarded annually, the Prize is an opportunity to put forward a global human rights defender deserving of aninternational recognition in his/her fight for equality or against tyranny.
Previous recipients come from across the world and have fought for a broad range of human rights issues: from women's empowerment to establishing democracy, basic civil and political rights. Some of the most recent laureates include one of the most prominent campaigners for the abolition of the harmful practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) Waris Dirie, LI President of Honour and Director of the Centre for the Resolution of Intractable Conflict (CRIC) at the Harris Manchester College at Oxford University Lord John Alderdice and liberal blogger Raif Badawi, who has been unjustly imprisoned in Saudi Arabia since 2012 for criticizing the Saudi regime online.
In order to qualify for the Prize, candidates have to be nominated by the LI membership and fulfill the following criteria:
1. Individuals who fight for liberal values, promoting freedom of conscience, human rights, democracy, and peace.
2. Individuals who are key contributors to significant changes in a country or region.
3. Individuals to whom this award might offer protection from extreme forms of political persecution.
4. LI member party leaders or groups may not be considered except for extraordinary circumstances, as the Prize aims to stand behind those who fight for democracies without political protection.
Each nomination is to be accompanied by a brief biography of the nominee and the reason for your nomination. The nominee should also be willing to accept the Prize and travel to the Prize for Freedom award ceremony. Nominations have to be submitted to the Head of LI Human Rights Programme Tamara Dancheva by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The LI membership is advised that 1 September is also the statutory deadline for submitting political documents for the upcoming 197th LI Executive Committee meeting due to take place in Marrakech, Morocco from 11 to 13 November 2016.
Democracy watchdog Freedom House speaks out against Ortega's SandinistasThursday 11 August 2016 20:08 President Daniel Ortega's attempt to bring an end to pluralistic democracy in Nicaragua has collided with further condemnation, this time from Freedom House, the internationally renowned democracy watchdog, which called greater global attention to the power-grab by the authoritarian leader ahead of elections in November.
Carlos Ponce, director of Freedom House's Latin American programmes, expressed clear concern at the judicial farce instigated by the Sandinista regime of President Daniel Ortega.The Freedom House statement reads: “The Electoral Court’s decision is a blatant attempt to stifle political pluralism and dissent”, and comes in response to the decision taken by the Nicaraguan courts included stripping LI Vice-President Eduardo Montealegre MP of his leadership role within Partido Liberal Independiente (PLI - LI full-member) and removal all PLI deputies from the Congress.
"This is another effort by President Ortega to stay in office indefinitely by undermining democratically elected institutions, especially as he aims to win a third consecutive six-year term”, the statement continued.
Earlier last week, LI President Dr Juli Minovesdenounced attempts by the Ortega regime to eliminate the opposition posed by the PLI and its leader LI Vice-President on the Bureau Eduardo Montealegre MP as a threat to his unconstitutional re-election in the Central American country in November.
DA makes staggering gains in breakthrough electionsThursday 4 August 2016 14:08“People have voted for change”, was the clear message from Mmusi Maimane MP, the leader of LI full member Democratic Alliance (DA), as his party delivered outstanding results, winning many seats from the ruling Africa National Congress of embattled President Jacob Zuma.
With votes still being counted two days after the elections were held, on Wednesday 3rd August, Mr. Maimane told the media: “This election has seen voters put their faith in change through the ballot box.” The incredible surge in DA support has seen the party become front-runners or level-pegging in formerly ANC strongholds and the economic heartlands of South Africa.
Rejecting the divisive rhetoric of the ANC, in elections were been billed as the most important since the post-Apartheid 1994 elections, the Liberal leader added: "This election has shown that when you put a positive offer to the voters, they will come out to support you. I feel very, very positive about where we are going as a party”
With the DA on course to win more votes in local elections than ever before and push the ANC clearly under a 60% share of the vote LI Deputy President and Premier of South Africa’s Western Cape Province, Helen Zille,took to Twitter to tell her almost 1 million followers: “Today ppl take it for granted that DA and ANC are Neck-and-neck in major cities. It was unthinkable even 5 years ago.”
(1/3) Newpaper headlines today, from around South Africa.
'Nicaragua now a democracy in name only', says LI PresidentThursday 4 August 2016 13:08 LI President Dr. Juli Minoves has described his outrage at the actions of the Sandinista government of Daniel Ortega to turnNicaragua into a single-party state by stripping liberal parliamentarians – the largest opposition group – of their power in parliament, a reflection of the concerning rise of illiberalism globally.
The news comes following an earlier decision by the Sandinista-backed courts to rob LI Vice-President, Eduardo Montealegre MP, of his legal position as head of the Partido Liberal Independiente (PLI - LI full-member) in June. Dr. Minoves wrote: “Authoritarian populists enriching themselves dispose of liberal democracy and claim legitimacy in the name of closely controlled 'electoral democracy' where the opposition becomes non-existent or has no chance."
“The future looks grim under illiberal 'caciques' in a multipolar world of democracies in name only that respect each other's sovereignties to rule by decree or by so-called 'independent institutions' heavily controlled by the powers that be. This is appalling,” added the LI President.
In solidarity with the plight of the liberal parliamentarians and democratic values in Nicaragua, President of the Partido Liberal de Chile (LI full member), Vlado Mirosevic MP, condemned Ortega’s actions in an address to the Chilean Congress.
The timing of President Ortega’s seizure of power is no coincidence. A national general election is scheduled to take place in November 2016 and, sensing the menace from the Liberals, to be a threat to his unconstitutional re-election. In June 2016, Ortega announced that international observers would not be permitted to scrutinise the November elections.
Liberals celebrate making of history at DNC in Philadelphia Friday 29 July 2016 11:07 Liberals from around the world have convened in Philadelphia, USA at the Democrat National Convention (DNC) to mark the historic nomination of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as the Democrat Party candidate for the 2016 US Presidential Elections.
In the margin of the National Democratic Institute (NDI – LI cooperating organisation) International Leaders’ Forum, with ran alongside the DNC, Liberal International and the Friedrich Naumann Foundation (FNF – LI cooperating organisation) brought together over 60 liberals from more than 26 countries around the world – from Andorra to Taiwan. Addressing the gathering, which included liberal Prime Ministers, Ministers and parliamentarians, LI President Dr. Juli Minoves said: “What brings us all here in Philadelphia is the common sense that our values are challenged by dangerous illiberal political tendencies in many countries.” The LI President also invited those present to submit contributions to the 2017 Liberal Manifesto.
Alongside the LI President, Danish Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen elaborated on Dr. Minoves’ comments, speaking of the challenges posed by populist political figures. “We should not give in to populism and talk of easy solutions, but should listen and should work harder to address the concerns that the people are voicing", as he spoke on the growth of populism in Europe, the United States and elsewhere.
- 60 liberals from 36 countries congregate at the LI-FNF liberal gathering at the DNC, Philadelphia
Accepting the nomination from her party, and in so doing becoming the first-ever female presidential candidate in US history, Hillary Clinton said: “Now we are clear-eyed about what our country is up against. But we are not afraid. We will rise to the challenge, just as we always have. We will not build a wall. Instead, we will build an economy where everyone who wants a good paying job can get one.”
The United States Presidential election will take place on 8 November, 2016.
International Liberal family appalled at stripping of liberals' political mandateThursday 28 July 2016 17:07The international liberal family is appalled at the latest move to crush political opposition in Nicaragua as the Socialist Sandinista Front moves to strip opposition legislators of their mandates in the central American country. Liberal International condemns the decision taken by the Parliament of Nicaragua in violation of any normal democratic procedure.
In response to the growing oppression of the liberal opposition, a wave of support from the allies of Partido Liberal Independiente (PLI - LI full member) has been rising inside and outside of Nicaragua; supporters have backed the leader of the opposition and LI Vice-President Eduardo Montealegre MP against the ruling of the Constitutional Court, which removed Mr. Montealegre from his position as leader of the party last month.
Even at a time when media organisations are being threatened with harsh measures by populist and oppressive governments around the world, one of the most important newspapers in Nicaragua, La Prensa, has refused to remain silent over the injustice that PLI are suffering at the hands of the Socialist Sandinista government in Nicaragua.
A plan to rig the upcoming elections has been suggested as the reason for the court’s ruling, as claimed during an appearance in a TV programme by one of Daniel Ortega’s consultants. The Nicaraguan newspaper underlines how unsubstantiated conspiracy theories have been used throughout history by dictatorships to eliminate the internal opposition and accomplish their plans of repression.
“It would be fool on my side”, said Eduardo Montealegre “to join those plots or conspiracies that officials of FSLN allude to and that could affect the most vulnerable Nicaraguans or the businesses, be they big, medium, small or micro. Nothing could be further from reality, as I know from my experience in the public and private sector, how much it has cost all Nicaraguans recovering from the situation we inherited on 25 April 1990”.