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Liberal International 1947 - 2017: Bureau marks 70th anniversary in OxfordTuesday 11 April 2017 22:04 On 10 April 2017, Liberals from around the world came together on the same spot at Wadham College, University of Oxford, where Liberal International was established 70 years ago this month. In 1947 Liberals from 19, mostly European, countries united in the aftermath of the horrors of World War Two to form our political federation and promote a world order based on liberal values; today, with over 100 members across 5 continents, our liberal movement is truly global.
With the rise of populism and illiberalism our fight to promote fairness and freedom has rarely been more urgent. The liberal family will come together again in Andorra next month to offer a response to growing global threats and to mark the wider membership of our 70th anniversary with the adoption of a new Manifesto at our Congress.
Amid rising authoritarianism – from Hungary to the Philippines, from Turkey to the Democratic Republic of Congo – the liberal manifesto for the twenty-first century will be debated and presented in Andorra. The manifesto launch is the culmination of a two-year international consultation process designed to equip member parties with a starting point for a united, positive political path forward in the coming decades - galvanising our powerful Liberal alliance and promoting a strong political message.
Registrations can only be accepted via this link with a password obtained from a party’s, cooperating organisation’s, or partner’s international officer.
With voting and elections, interactive policy and best-practice workshops, dedicated networking events and more, the 70th-anniversary congress is a unique opportunity for Liberals of the world to exchange ideas, form new alliances, and advance their party’s presence on the international stage.
To find our more about the congress, including booking of accommodation, airport transfers and more, please follow this link to the LI website.
Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Chrysita Freeland, has championed female entrepreneurship during the Women20Summit panel, which took place as part of the G20 programme in Berlin, Germany this week. Alongside other high-ranking political figures including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, US Presidential advisor Ivanka Trump, IMF Chief Christine Lagarde, Minister Freeland said that there is still much more work to be done to support women in business.
The panel focused on financial inclusion and the challenges faced by businesswomen. During her intervention, the Liberal Party of Canada (LI full member) Minister reminded the audience of the “very deep political and social reasons women have been cut out of positions of economic power”, adding that bold actions and a strong political effort are needed.
“In Canada, we like to think of ourselves as an enlightened country; our Prime Minister is a feminist. He appointed a 50-50 gender-balanced cabinet,” she said referring to the ongoing discussion with the White House regarding the creation of councils for female entrepreneurs. “We have been talking much about the developing countries, […] but we still have work to do at home”
Furthermore, Minister Freeland underlined the importance of mentorship and mutual support among women, but not only. In response to the reported negative reaction to Ivanka Trump statement regarding her father, Freeland said: “I have a view that is backed up by sociological research, behind every successful woman there is a very supportive father.”
Emphasising LI's commitment to women's rights and strengthening bonds between LI and LPC, LI President, DrJuli Minoves, was in Vancouver last week where he met with Canadian Liberal MPHedy Fry, Chairwoman of the Standing Committee on Status of Women and Canada’s longest-serving Member of Parliament.
Commenting also in his capacity as ALDE Party President Van Baalen said: "Bulgaria´s future as a constructive member of the European Union is much better served with a coalition with the pro-European ALDE Member Party Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF). Both in the ALDE Group in the European Parliament and in Bulgarian politics MRF has proven to be a trustworthy defender of Good Governance, Freedom and Democracy."
The statement echoes the LI Bureau's reaction which renewed its concern that the political intolerance towards minorities promoted by the extreme right-wing populists might be integrated in the national cabinet. Speaking on behalf of the Bureau LI President Dr Juli Minoves said: “Already in 2014 I emphasised that liberal values founded the European idea and must be reasserted against far-right rhetoric. Today, our position as a political federation is even more resolute – we call on all mainstream democratic political parties and movements to clearly reject coalition talks with far-right political forces and to loudly and clearly distance themselves from this nationalist-populist and xenophobic path.”
Liberal International hosted its 53rd Congress in Sofia, Bulgaria under the theme “Freedom and Security” reaffirming Bulgaria’s firm place in the family of European and Euro-Atlantic Nations.
'DA president a likely scenario' for South Africa, says PoH Van BaalenThursday 27 April 2017 10:04 LI President of Honour and ALDE Party (LI cooperating organisation) President, Hans van Baalen MEP, was in South Africa last week, where met with Mmusi Maimane MP - the leader of LI full member, Democratic Alliance (South Africa) – who he tipped to replace ANC president Jacob Zuma in the 2019 presidential elections.
Highlighting the outstanding electoral track record of the DA under Mmusi Maimane’s leadership, the LI President of Honour said: "Under his [Mr. Maimane’s] leadership the DA conquered many important cities and towns in the last municipal elections. So beware Jacob Zuma and ANC, the democratic alternative is progressing. A DA President of Republic of South Africa after the next general elections in 2019 is a likely scenario.”
With the DA leading a popular charge for the liberal democratic alternative, the ANC suffered their worst electoral defeat in 2016 since the end of apartheid. With Jacob Zuma under intense national and international pressure to step down following a series of allegations of corruption, the LI President of Honour added: “The DA will uphold and defend Colin Eglin´s heritage: the South African liberal Constitution which unites all South Africans under the rule of law.
LI president congratulates Macron on first round election triumphThursday 27 April 2017 10:04 “A victory for Europe, for liberal values and of course for France”, LI president, Dr Juli Minoves wrote earlier this week as news that French presidential hopeful, Emmanuel Macron, recorded the highest number of votes in the first round of voting for the French presidency.
Mr Macron, whose party En Marche! did not exist 18 months ago, delivered a seismic shock to the French political system when, for the first time in sixty years, neither of the traditional two main parties – the Republicans and Socialists – made it into the second-round run-off. Emmanuel Macron secured 23.8% of votes cast and his second round contender, Marine Le Pen of the far-right National Front, 21.5% - polling indicates that En Marche! is on course for a strong victory on 7th May.
“[Macron] led a centrist liberal movement to a victory in the first round of the presidential election against the far right of Marine Le Pen and the bizarre candidacy of rightist François Fillon allied with the fundamentalists of Sens Commun”, added the LI president.
The result comes as socialist parties continue to slide backwards in electoral contests across Europe and Mr Macron’s victory in May could also be interpreted as a sign that the brakes are slowly being applied to the rise in populist parties in some parts of the continent.
Following his participation at the 136th Session of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU)in Dhaka (Bangladesh) on behalf of Liberal International, LI Human Rights Committee member, Phil Bennion (LIBG - LI full-member) has emphasised the importance of building a consistent liberal presence at each IPU meeting.
"Liberal International's presence at Inter-Parliamentary Union sessions is crucial as it helps liberals speak with one voice on important issues not least human rights.The resolutions of the Human Rights of Parliamentarians Committee for example are one of the major platforms for expressing disapproval of anti-democratic behaviour by governments. Three of the strongest resolutions of the Committee at this IPU Session were in defence of LI member parties and addressed the cases of Senator Leila de Lima, Sam Rainsy and Anwar Ibrahim which makes LI representation at future IPU sessions that much more significant" he said.
On the fringes of the session, Bennion held a number of bilateral meetings with fellow liberals including Saumura Tioulong MP (CNRP, LI full-member), Nurul Izzah Anwar MP (PKR, LI member), Dennis Lawson MP (LPC, LI full-member) and Lord Navnit Dholakia (LibDems, LI full-member).
LI President meets former Canadian Minister Hedy Fry MP in VancouverThursday 20 April 2017 14:04 The President of Liberal International, Dr. Juli Minoves was in Vancouver, Canada where he participated at the 70th anniversary meeting of the Western Political Science Association (WPSA) with a paper presentation. He met with Canadian Liberal MP Hedy Fry with whom he reviewed the advancements of liberalism in Canada since the last election, the LI manifesto process and the joint work that LI and the Liberal Party of Canada can do to foster Human Rights in the world.
"In the Canadian Parliament,Hedy Fry represents the liberal values of the progressive and forward looking city of Vancouver. She also has an important role in the parliamentary assembly of the OSCE. She commended LI's work on human rights across the globe and shared her vision for the future in this sphere of work. It was a very positive feedback from a leading member of our worldwide liberal family" said Dr. Minoves after the meeting.
Hedy Fry was Canadian Minister of State responsible for Multiculturalism and Status of Women and since her election to parliament in 1993 when she defeated the incumbent Prime Minister Kim Campbell at the time, she has been an advocate for LGBT rights and diversity. Fry has spoken of Canada's diversity as its greatest competitive advantage - "our weapon of mass inclusion”. She is the President of the Liberal Group in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).
LI President of Honour, Hans Van Baalen MEP, has slammed President Erdogan's constitutional referendum win as a "moral defeat", adding to the international criticism of the the vote that concentrates greater power in the hands of President Erdogan.
Stressing that the President, who is also the leader of the governing AK party, has not actually won the referendum but lost it Van Baalen said:"When you fight an all out campaign for a yes vote backed by all means of the Turkish state and the AK Party, making it impossible for the No voters to campaign in the media and you get around 51% of the votes, this is a moral defeat. When international and independent observers conclude that there was mass scale manipulation of the vote count, the position of Erdogan is more than weak. He has split the Turkish nation."
Van Baleen, who is also President of the ALDE Party (LI cooperating organisation), further warned that the situaiton has to be monitored in terms of wether or not the electoral court orders a recount as demanded by the opposition and what kind of future actions will be undetaken by Erdogan and his party. "The European Union (EU) should support the forces of freedom within Turkey. Turkish EU membership is no longer on the table. However, Turkey should not be driven in the arms of Putin-Russia. This means we should not take irrevocable steps" he concluded.
Guy Verhofstadt MEP, leader of the ALDE Group in the European Parliament (LI full-member), echoed the concerns regarding Turkey's status as a candidate EU member state calling on the accession talks to be haulted. "The proposed constitutional changes do not only grant President Erdogan authoritarian powers, they also disrupt the democratic checks and balances in Turkey and the referendum on which they are based didn't meet the standards of the Council of Europe. A fair campaign has been prevented by the Turkish government who intimidated the "no"-side and even resorted to jailing dozens of journalists. The Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) confirms that both media and opposition parties have been boycotted by the Turkish government, thus precluding a level playing field between the "yes" and "no" sides...The only logical conclusion of this all is that the EU stops accession talks immediately and rethinks its relationship with Turkey" he said.
Very tight result in #turkish referendum. If Erdogan persists, EU should stop accession talks
The referendum hands over to the President new executive powers as it paves the way for a Constitutional change allowing Turkey to transition from a Parliamentary to a Presidential Republic essentially eliminating all checks and balances on future governments.
At this year’s historic 70th Anniversary LI Congress, the Council of Asian Liberals and Democrats (CALD, LI cooperating organisation) is set to organize an interactive workshop on liberalism in times of post-truth politics and populism.
In cooperation with the Friedrich Naumman Foundaiton (FNF, LI cooperating organisation), the workshop will be divided in three interactive sessions which will provide a hands-on training on how to implement the ideas contained in the new Liberal Manifesto set to be adopted by the LI Congress.
The first part of the workshop which will take place in the morning of 19 May (Saturday) will start with a concise TED talk, followed by an open forum and a panel discussion on the threats to liberty and the increasing challenges to freedom around the world. Questions will be raised on the threats to liberalism in specific regions alongside the growing threat of populism and extremism on both the right and left, and the means available to regional liberal networks in the fight against these threats.
The second part, starting in the afternoon, will be in a World Café session style encouraging a creative process for facilitation of a collaborative dialogue where participants will discuss the issue in small groups. This discussion will be followed by Fish Bowl style session where participants, sitting in concentric circle, will be exchanging ideas on how to be popular without being populist.
The Congress programme can be found on the LI website by clicking here. Registration for the event closes on 4 May so those interested and eligible to attend are encouraged to register as soon as posisble.
All questions regarding LI 70th Anniversary Congress can be addressed to LI Congress Assistant Tijana Mladic at email@example.com
Following a truck attack which killed four people in the heart of Stockholm, LI President Dr. Juli Minoves has condemned the attack as cowardly.
Expressing solidarity with the victims' family on behalf of the entire liberal family he said: "Very sad about the new act of terror in Stockholm. To all my Swedish friends my heartfelt solidarity. LI condemns in the strongest possible terms this cowardly attack. My condolences to the families of the victims and to the Swedish people."
Annie Lööf, leader of Centerpartiet (LI full-member), reiterated her pride in the resilience and unity shown by the Swedish society in such a trying and difficult moment. "I feel incredible pride in the Swedish society. Pictures of the police helping old people across the street, or rushing towards danger when others are fleeing, or of medical professionals who flocked to our hospitals, or school staff who took care of Stockholm's children when the parents were stuck in town are really moving. All individual Stockholmers who open the door to give a helping hand, I am impressed by their efforts.” she said.
Recommending that the best course of action is to let the police and justice do their job she also insisted on the strategy of acceptance: “when they strike against our openness, it is our tolerance that fights back. In the darkest moments, we stand stronger together.”
Jan Björklund, leader of Folkpartiet Liberalerna (LI full-member), explained that freedom is also to be safe where one lives and stressed that "this freedom must be defended.” In his statement on the tragic incident he also advised that there is a necessity to have a more visible presence of police officers across the country and focus on growing their numbers in the next 5-7 years.
Following news that there have been mass killings and targetter represessions against LGBTI people in Chechnya, the Chairman of LI LGBTI Rights Working Group Frank Van Dalen has called for international condemnation of the barbaric actions of the Russian government.
In a statement released for LI Van Dalen said: "The disturbing news from Chechnya on the alleged abuse and imprisonment of LGBT people in camps does not only reminds us of the disgusting condemned practices that took place during the second world war but is also a very grave infringement of many basic Human Rights. The world should not turn a blind eye but needs to speak up against these doomed practices and the Russian government should adhere to the international agreements it signed related to Human Rights in every region of its federation."
According to the latest reports the reprisal is the result of the intention of LGBT activists from the central part of Russia to hold pro-LGBTI rights public actions in the North Caucasus.
The Chairman of Yabloko (LI's full member party in Russia) Emilia Slabunova, has echoed LI's statement underlining the urgency of an independent investigation into the murders and unlawful detentions. "A murder is the gravest crime, which is severely punished by the Criminal Code of Russia, but a murder of a minority group is nothing else but a genocide regardless of the number of victims and has a character of a crime against humanity, which is imprescriptible. The Investigative Committee of Russia must immediately investigate all the facts of these murders if there is the least possibility of a sudden death of a person regardless of whether the victim’s relatives report about it or not. All those found responsible must serve a punishment strictly in accordance with the Law."
The leader of the Liberal Democrats (LI full-member), Tim Farron, has also condemned the genocide in Chechnya urging the UK government to strongly condemn the "disgusting violence and use every possible opportunity to raise this with the Russian government, as well as at the UN and other international bodies."
The All Out organisation has initiated an online petition calling on the Russian Prosecutor General to investigate the murders and torture of LGBTI people in Chechnya which can be signed by clicking here.
LI Bureau after Bulgaria vote: Reject coalition with far-right political forcesTuesday 11 April 2017 20:04 While marking the 70th anniversary of Liberal International, the LI Bureau of the world’s oldest political international evaluated the situation in Bulgaria in the aftermath of the early elections that took place on 26th of March. The Bureau congratulated its member Dhzevdet Chakarov for his re-election in the national Parliament and asked him to convey the congratulatory message to the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF, LI full member) president Musftafa Karadayi, the president of honour Ahmet Dogan and the party membership for the good result.
At the same time the Bureau, with renewed concern, assessed the rise of xenophobia and intolerance seen through the electoral results of the nationalistic and populist “Patriotic Front”. The members of the Liberal International renewed their concern expressed already in the past that the political intolerance towards minorities promoted by the extreme right-wing populists might be integrated in the national cabinet.
Speaking on behalf of the Bureau LI President Dr Juli Minoves said: “Already in 2014 I emphasised that liberal values founded the European idea and must be reasserted against far-right rhetoric. Today, our position as a political federation is even more resolute – we call on all mainstream democratic political parties and movements to clearly reject coalition talks with far-right political forces and to loudly and clearly distance themselves from this nationalist-populist and xenophobic path.”
The Bureau of Liberal International recalled its positive memories from its 53rd Congress in Sofia under the theme of “Freedom and Security” reaffirming Bulgaria’s firm place in the family of European and Euro-Atlantic Nations. “Bulgaria should continue to serve as a positive example with its inclusive society and political stability in South East of Europe, especially ahead of its presidency with the European Union in the beginning of 2018”, concluded the Members of the Liberal International Bureau.
LI condolences and strong condemnation over developments in ParaguayMonday 3 April 2017 18:04 LI President Dr Juli Minoves has offered his condolences and strong condemnation following disturbing developments in Paraguay over the last weekend. He paid tribute to the young member of LI full member Partido Liberal Radical Autentico - PLRA, Rodrigo Quintana, who was killed by the national police in the party central headquarters in Asuncion.
LI President said: "Once again strongmen who want to stay in power want to abolish term limits and will use violence against political oponents if needed. A 25 year old is dead in Asuncion victim of brutality. I convey our condolences to his family and Liberal International's strong condemnation of the illiberal political decisions that are at the origin of this."
Dr Minoves added: "It is terrible to see how the desire to stay in power puts in danger hard-fought democratic values in a country that lived for many decades under a ferocious dictatorship."
Peaceful PLRA-led demonstrations opposing the disputed changes of Paraguay's constitution allowing re-election of the president had turned in violent on Friday night in the aftermath of a highly controversial attempt by majority senators to enact the consitutional amendments.
The World Today resolution adopted at 56th LI Congress in Cairo states: "Following our principles, Congress expresses a degree of concern for the cases of extension of the mandate of an incumbent president, when it is not in conformity with the current constitution. Expressing profound concern by the undemocratic and authoritarian tendencies in a number of Latin American countries, Liberal International calls for democracy to be strengthened in all the countries of the region and for all democratic institutions to continue working towards this aim, both on a national and regional level."
President Dr Juli Minoves and Vice President Eduardo Montealegre expressed Liberal International's deep concern at Venezuela’s Supreme Court’s decision to eliminate, for all practical purposes, the legislative power of the country’s National Assembly. They voiced a strong demand from the international liberal community for full respect of the Venezuelan Constitution and immediate restoration of the rule of law, including the returning of parliamentary immunity to all its democratically elected Members.
Expressing LI's "solidarity with the people of Venezuela in this dark hour of their history", LI Presiident said that "Venezuela's non democracy is tragically descending into an economic and political abyss.
As Vice President on the LI’s Bureau, Montealegre said “this last maneuver of Maduro’s regime is intolerable and shows a sign weakness on the part Maduro’s totalitarian regime’s side.”
Speaking as the representative of all Latin American Liberals on the Bureau, Montealegre stated that “all Latin America Liberals must condemn this assault to democracy in Venezuela and urge all Liberals to unite in denouncing this atrocity and request that their respective governments demand the Secretary General of the OAS to apply with full force the Inter-American Democratic Charter to Maduro’s government in its totality."
On the evening of the 29th of March, two decisions of the "Chamber of Constitutional Affairs" of the Supreme Court of Venezuela brought the country into the headlines of the world press. In its judgments nos. 155 and 156, the Constitutional Court repealed the immunity of the deputies of the National Assembly, and even wanted to take over all legislative functions of Parliament, since this "continued to void decisions of this court and its decisions were null and void."Birgit Lamm, Latin America Regional Director of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Liberty (FNF) commented in an exclusive report (la versión castellana del artículo) that "it is probably a historically unique process that a Constitutional Court, which should actually be the guardian of the constitution of its state and its institutions, should itself abolish the division of powers and abrogate basic principles of the constitution."
As the Supreme Court now seems to have disavowed its earlier decisions this week taking powers from congress and limiting lawmakers' immunity from prosecution, Venezuela's opposition lawmakers called on supporters to remain mobilized on the streets to keep pressure on the government to hold elections this year.
Liberals secure European Parliament support over Philippines as Duterte lashes outThursday 30 March 2017 11:03 The hard-line president of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte, has reacted with characteristic fury at the European Parliament’s decision to adopt an urgency resolution of the rapidly deteriorating human rights situation in the country, embodied by the arrest of government critic SenatorLeila de Lima of the Liberal Party of the Philippines (LP - LI full member).
Acting in close collaboration with Liberal International, LI president of Honour, Hans van Baalen MEP, took the initiative on behalf of the ALDE Group in the European Parliament (LI full member) and tabled the resolution, which won the support of parties across the political spectrum.
In addition to calling for close monitoring of the case against Senator De Lima, the resolution urges “the EU to support the establishment at the UN Human Rights Council of an independent international investigation into unlawful killings and other violations by the Philippines in the context of President Duterte’s ‘war on drugs’”.
Forced to react to an intervention prompted by Liberal International for the second time in one month, President Duterte’s frustration was palpable. In an expletive-laden address to the media over the resolution, which denounces his so-called ‘war on drugs’ and reintroduction of the death penalty, the draconian president of the Philippines insisted that the European parliamentarians “mind your own business”, before adding “why do you have to fuck with us, goddamn it?”
Liberal International spoke out and rallied support for enhanced scrutiny of human rights standards under president Duterte the day that senator De Lima was arrested. The Liberal legislator remains imprisoned and has repeatedly stated that she is willing to be the first political prisoner of the Duterte regime.
As part of LI’s ongoing campaign to globalize the Istanbul Convention on Combatting and Preventing Violence against Women, the LI Human Rights Committee has held its first meeting on the fringes of an Africa Liberal Network (ALN, LI cooperating organisation) statutory event and taken the debate directly to a wide range of Africa's parliamentarians.
Under the theme Prevention of Violence against Women: Liberal Strategies and Perspectives and in cooperation with the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM, LI full-member), the meeting took place at the 13th ALN General Assembly (GA) and saw the participation of a number of ODM liberal legislators and LI HRC members sitting on ALN’s Bureau including ALN Vice-Presidents Rosemary Machua (ODM), Medard Mulangala and Stevens Mokgalapa MP (DA, LI full-member).
Split into four separate working groups, ALN delegates and observers discussed the importance of the role of the media in projecting a positive image for women and women’s political and economic empowerment as a major deterrent to violence among other related topics.
Some of the conclusions reached were that more women should be allowed an equal opportunity to become policy makers and more men should actively speak up against gender-based violence and support efforts to eliminate it.
In an effort to facilitate closer cooperation between LI and ALN in the field of promotion and advancement of women’s rights, the ALN GA adopted the flagship Nairobi Declaration on Prevention and Elimination of Violence against Women. Acknowledging that violence against women remains one of the most widespread forms of human rights violations, the declaration commits ALN to working with their partners in Liberal International (LI) and liberal parties across the world, in opposition and in government, to condemn and eliminate gender-based violence.
Elaborating on the importance of this fundamental document LI Vice-President and LI HRC Chair Markus Loening said: “The Nairobi Declaration represents an important step towards the empowerment of women and it testifies to the ongoing commitment by the African liberal family to[wards] gender equality. As we look forward to strengthening cooperation between Liberal International (LI), its Human Rights Committee and the Africa Liberal Network, I sincerely hope that this Declaration will serve to solidify the efforts of liberals to speak with one voice when it comes to promotion and advancement of human rights.”
Owing to the generous financial support received from Rassemblement des Republicains (RDR, LI full-member), the LI HRC meeting brought together around 50 liberals from approximately 15 different countries in Africa.
The ALN General Assembly met in Nairobi, Kenya and saw delegates from over 40 liberal parties from across the continent meet to discuss the major issues facing their countries and the wider continent and to share their experiences of campaigning, governing and scrutinising governments in Africa.
LI will continue to support freedom in Zanzibar and TanzaniaTuesday 28 March 2017 17:03 The Director of Foreign Affairs and International Relations of Tanzania’s Civic United Front (CUF - LI full member) and Member of Zanzibar's House of Representatives, Ismail Jussa, met with Secretary General Emil Kirjas last week to discuss continuous clampdown democracy, human rights and civil liberties in the East African nation. “Rest assured that we are going to continue our international pressure to hold the government in Dar es Salaam accountable for its actions until freedom prevails,” said Mr Kirjas after the meeting.
On his part, Mr Jussa praised LI for its unwavering support and appealed for more concrete actions from member parties especially those in power in Canada, in Europe and in Africa to pressurise Tanzania to restore democracy in Zanzibar and respect free speech in the country. "We are grateful for all the support that Liberal International has been extending over the years to CUF and to the peoples of Zanzibar and Tanzania at large in our struggle for self-determination, democracy, and human rights. But time has come for a decisive course of action to produce the much-desired results. Zanzibaris have waited for too long," he said.
The meeting in the LI secretariat follows meetings that Mr Jussa had with the Foreign Affairs spokesperson for the Liberal Democrats (LibDems, UK - LI full member) Tom Brake MP during which they agreed to work together to encourage the UK government to press harder for the restoration of multi-party government and with representatives of the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Earlier on he also held discussions with the Commonwealth Secretariat at Marlborough House, Chatham House, the Africa Research Institute and the Australian High Commission in London.
Congress Registration set to open on 01 AprilThursday 23 March 2017 18:03 Hosted by LI full member Liberals d’Andorra in coordination with European Liberal Forum, the 70th Anniversary LI Congress registration will open its registration on Saturday, 1 April, and close on Thursday, 4 May. The 70th Anniversary Congress will mark a history with the culmination of the 2017 Liberal Manifesto process – a global reflection on liberalism in the twenty-first century.
Delegates and guests will have opportunity to register timely via the event page on Eventbrite, and the link will be posted on the LI website. It is important that, before registering, delegates and guests of the Congress confirm their status with the International Officer of their Party or organization.
The Congress will open its activities in the afternoon of Thursday, 18 May. The next day, 19 May, will be filled with stimulating sessions organised by our partner organisations, Friedrich Naumann Foundation (FNF), International Federation of Liberal Youth (IFLRY), and Swedish People's Party of Finland (SFP). Productive discussions will be held on topics which include ways of combatting populism worldwide, how to deal with intergenerational inequalities, and local perspective of the liberal Manifesto. Right after, LI Human Rights Committee and VVD will organize an interactive session debating thought-provoking topic of individual rights versus group rights. On last day Saturday, 20 May, the activities will be focused on the Manifesto with discussions, key political speeches, and endorsement from the membership.
Information about logistics of the Congress such as accommodation and transportation will be communicated next week to the International Officers. Delegates and guests can keep up to date with the latest information online by following Liberal International on Facebook and Twitter. For any inquiries and additional information, contact our Congress Assistant Tijana Mladic at tijana(at)liberal-international@org
As the news broke out that the Saudi authorities have confirmed the verdict against the jailed Saudi liberal blogger, Raif Badawi, LI HRC Members Abir Al-Sahlani and Ilhan Kyuchyuk MEP have released a statement calling for his immediate release.
Condeming the confirmation of the verdict as unacceptable Al-Sahlani said: "It's deeply disturbing and truly wrong what the Saudi authorities are doing. Besides the physical abuse being inflicted upon Raif Badawi, the Saudi government wants to silence Badawi with economic means. It's unacceptable, because all humans are born free, including the citizens of the kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Kyuchyuk expressed his deep disappointment about the decision of the Saudi authorities as he stressed that Badawi's only crime "has been to peacefully exercise his right to freedom of speech and this information leaves us deeply concerned about the possible developments in his case."
Referring to the decision of LI to award the 2016 LI Prize for Freedom to Raif Badawi he further commented saying: "Moreover, he has been awarded the 2016 Liberal International Prize for Freedom because at a time when Europe and the world are facing big waves of radicalisation and extremism, Badawi promotes liberal values in a region where fear of violence and oppression is bigger than ever. I call on the Saudi authorities to respect, protect and fulfil international human rights, release Raif Badawi and all prisoners of conscience and revoke all institutionalized practices which call for an active infringement upon the fundamental freedoms in the Kingdom."
Raif Badawi was awarded the 2016 LI Prize for Freedom for his courage in standing up for freedom and human rights in Saudi Arabia and the wider region. The ceremony took place during the Bi-Annual LI Human Rights Committee meeting at the European Parlaiment last year which was hosted by Ilhan Kyuchyuk MEP (ALDE Group, LI full-member).
At an international Forum on Africa & South-South Cooperation in Dakhla, Morocco, Minister El Haite highlighted the COP 22 achievements and addressed the expected impact of the reduction of climate change effects for Africa and the Small Island Developing States (SIDS). LI VP El Haite said: “Many people in African countries are experiencing hunger, which is shameful given the technology and innovative proposals made by Africans themselves. Africa needs to address issues of water and agriculture.”
Offering concrete proposals to the participants on implementation of Climate Change programmes on national level, including involvement of the Global Green Fund, she said: “we have seen unprecedented level of ideas and mechanisms of support at COP 22, which will be remembered as the Summit for action.”
In December last year President François Hollande decorated LI Vice President El Haité with France's Legion of Honour: the highest honour for civilian merits, recognising her career and commitment to the ecological cause both nationally and internationally and her will to “implement the ecological momentum".
Liberal Internaitonal (LI) and the International Network of Liberal Women (INLW) have joined forces for a fourth year in a row in order to project a common liberal voice on women's rights at the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (UNCSW) in New York.
Under the theme Overcoming Challenges Facing Women in Business in a Changing World the two organisations organized a side-event on the fringes of the 61st Session of UNCSW to discuss obstacles and challenges business women including immigrant and refugee women face in different parts of the world. The objective of the meeting was to provide an insight into the situation of business women and their possibilities for economic empowerment around the world in an ever- changing world of work.
Addressing the situation in Morocco, LI Human Rights Committee Member and INLW Vice-President Khadija El Morabit stressed that poverty, employment and illiteracy remain as major barriers to women's economic autonomy in the country. Referring to the lack for resources and means of production for female enterpreneurs in particular, El Morabit said:"Female entrepreneurship is often a fact entrepreneurship or a passive enterprenuership whereby women are made to depend on their respecitve fathers, brothers, or husbands for joint management and more often than not they cannot even inherit the family business they run."
Antia Wiersma, Deputy Director and Manager of the Research & Advice department of Atria, the Dutch Institute on Gender Equality and Women’s History, spoke of the high part-time employment rate among women in the Netherlands which is a major contributor to the relatively low number of women in high-level positions. "The fact that Dutch women work predominantly part-time seems to also play a role in the gender pay gap, especially in the private sector, where the unadjusted gender pay gap amounts to 22% and the adjusted pay gap to 10%. Despite the fact that young women earn more than men, as they are often more highly educated, in the private sector, from the age of 30 onwards, they earn less than men. The root causes for this gender wage gap lie in the combination of paid work and care for children" she said.
INLW Vice-President Maysing Yang (DPP, LI full-member) highlighted the fact that even though the Taiwanese government encourages female enterpreneurship and employment more and more Taiwanese women choose not to work as a result of which only 50% of them participate in the economy. "Women need to become more vocal and speak up for themselves. Men ask for promotion, women wait for promotion" Yang added.
The debate was moderated by the President of INLW Margaret de Vos Van Steenwjick and it saw a wide variety of NGO representaitves and dleegates from UN permanent missions in attendace.
Building on a resolution co-sponsored by the ALDE Group in the European Parliament (LI full-member), the statement stresses on the importance of establishing a national dialogue between the different political actors and ackwnoledgeS the ever-increasing level of violence and violations and infringements of human rights and international law by the authorities in the country, especially in regards to targeted actions and arbitrary arrests.
The role LI member parties Alliance Pour le Renouveau du Congo and Union Pour la Reconstruction Du Congo have played and continue to play in the transition agreement and the overall return of democracy and rule of law to the country was recognized as crucial while the Liberal International Human Rights Committee made a commitment to raise the issue of political reconciliation in the DRC by addressing members of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) directly.
Calling on the international community to undertake urgent action, Liberal International has appealed on the United Nations to establish an Independent Commission of Inquiry in order to conduct full, thorough and transparent investigation into the alleged human rights violations that took place during the protests and identify those responsible holding them to an account.
The situation in the DRC is set to be discussed at the 13th Annual General Assembly of the Africa Liberal Network (LI cooperating organisation) in Nairobi, Kenya this week.
In a statement issued excusively for LI, Chair of LI Human Rights Committee and Vice-President on LI Bureau Markus Loening has called for the immediate release of the leader of the Youth Yabloko branch in Stavropol (South Russia) Kiril Bobro.
Bobro has been sentenced to two months in prison on trumped up charges of drugs' possession as a retaliation by the Russian authorities for his political activities at the liberal opposition party. Most recently he organized a series of commemorative events in Stavropol in memory of the murdered leader of the liberal opposition Boris Nemtsov.
Underlining the urgency of Bobro's immediate release Loening said: "I call on the Russian authorities to immediate release Kiril Bobro, the leader of Youth Yabloko from Stavropol. Even to his lawyer his whereabouts remain unknown. Any detention on trumped up charges and without an access to a lawyer is illegal under international and Russian law. Russia is a member of the Council of Europe and other international conventions obliging authorities to fully respect human rights and the rule of law. It’s authorities must act accordingly. I further call on the Russian government to make sure international conventions are being fully respected by all parts of law enforcement."
LI President of Honour and ALDE Party President Hans Van Baalen MEP has echoed Loening's statement saying:"I join the call for the immediate release of youth activist Kirill Bobro, who has been detained for two months on fake charges and risks many years of imprisonment."
In a press release issued by Yabloko (LI full-member) the Deputy Chairman of the party Nikolai Rybakov echoed Loening''s statement saying: “It is certain that Kiril Bobro is persecuted for his public and political activity in the region. Using law enforcement in politics is unacceptable. The authorities continue to intimidate and persecute opposition representatives instead of beginning in a dialogue with them. We will give all possible support to Kirill Bobro and pursue his safety."
As Liberal International celebrates its 70th-anniversary this year it has had the pleasure to welcome a delegation of parliamentarians from the Liberal Party of Canada (LPC, LI full-member) to its headquarters in London for meetings led by LI Secretary General Emil Kirjas and LI Vice-President Robert Woodthorpe Browne MBE, with Liberal Democrats (LibDems, LI full-member) President Baroness Sal Brinton, Foreign Affairs Spokesman Tom Brake and Home Affairs spokesman Lord Brian Paddick.
Member of the Canadian Parliament Frank Baylis MP stressed on the added value of membership in Liberal Internaitonal saying:"I was very happy to have the opportunity to visit Liberal International and meet with British liberal colleagues and representatives from LI. The work that Liberal International does should not be underestimated. It is critical for liberal-minded politicians to have the opportunity to get together, collaborate, and learn from one another. This is how we will all make our world a better place."
Alexandra Mendes MP echoed his comments by elaborating on the importance of maintaining strong liberal bonds saying: "Values in politics matter. Perhaps today more than before. We should not give up on our liberal values and win the support of the people. This was my personal story and the story of my Liberal Party of Canada that I enjoyed sharing at the meeting in Liberal International with the parliamentary colleagues, former minister and with the president from the UK Liberal Democrats." She further added: "It was encouraging to hear them energised as their fight based on our shared values brings increasing support."
Having with Robert W Browne MBE who is also a Chairman of the Liberal Democrats Federal International Relations Committee, Mendes found "excellent" tha the LibDems are "enshrining their internationalism and openness in the party structure" and reiterated that as parties the LPC and LibDems are very similar. "As a former party official I will certainly make that positive case at home" she concluded.
The Liberals agreed that an internationalist outlook and solidarity among Liberal parties around the world is essential in today’s age of divisive, populist politics. Part of the Canadian Liberal MP delegation were Greg Fergus, former LPC National Director, Dan Ruimy and Salma Zahid, while on the side of the Liberal Democrats the Rt Hon Sir Simon Hughes, former Minister of Justice and ex-LibDem Deputy Leader joined the meetings in London.
The election, which saw the highest turnout of Dutch voters in 30 years amid earlier concerns that the far-right party of Geert Wilders would emerge with the most seats, is seen as a bellwether for the French elections later this year.
LI President Dr Juli Minoves tweeted that VVD and D66 had “stopped populism in its tracks” while LI President of Honour, Hans van Baalen MEP, who leads the VVD delegation in the European Parliament said: "The extreme right wing populists of Wilders took a serious hit from the lead party VVD; this will help defeat Le Pen in France and AFD in Germany. Congratulations to D66 for their very good results. Liberals will shape the Netherlands and Europe in the years to come!"
Leader of D66, Alexander Pechtold, labelled his party’s gains as “historic” as the social liberals gained 7 seats, while Mark Rutte described “an evening where the Netherlands, after Brexit and the American elections, has said ‘ho’ to the wrong sort of populism,” adding that “now it’s important to bring our country together and form a stable government.”
Addressing members of the United Nations Human Rights Council on behalf of Liberal International, LI Human Rights Committee Member Phil Bennion (Liberal International British Group, LI full-member) has slammed President Putin for decriminalizing domestic violence and violence against women.
Referring to a recent bill adopted by he Russian Parliament which establishes violence within families as an administrative, rather than a criminal offence, Bennion said: "All forms of violence are a clear violation of the norms of international human rights and domestic violence is not an exception. As such the Russian state has a duty to enact laws which punish rather than ignore criminal acts as dictated by its international obligations...This is yet another draconian law in a chain of legislation curbing fundamental human rights in Russia and disregarding its obligation to protect women’s dignity."
He further called on President Putin to repeal the law decriminalizing family-based violence and to cease all attacks on fundamental human rights and freedoms in Russia.
This follows earlier calls by LI Vice-President on the Bureau and Chair of LI Human Rights Committee Markus Loening and LI HRC Member and Vice-President of the Africa Liberal Network (LI cooperating organisation) Rosemary Machuanot to decriminalize domestic violence in Russia and repeal the bill.
Tijana's previous engagements involve working in Liberal Party of Montenegro (LI member), firstly as an intern and later in the Technical and Administrative Department of the General Secretariat of the party . She is an alumni and a former National Board member of the NGO Montenegrin Students for Liberty, a part of the European Students for Liberty, which exists to provide support for pro-liberty students and student groups in Montenegro, and empower the next generation of leaders in the global liberty movement.
Tijana finished International Relations and Diplomacy at the University of Montenegro, and later on obtained an Erasmus scholarship from the Free University in Berlin. Personally she finds that the best thing that one can do to promote liberty around the world is to invest in today’s youth as they are tomorrow’s leaders.
Liberal International and the International Network of Liberal Women (INLW - LI full-member), have teamed up to project a common liberal voice on the issue of promotion and advancement of women's rights at the upcoming session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (UNCSW).
Under the theme Overcoming Challenges Facing Women in Business in a Changing World, LI and INLW will organize a side event for a third consecutive year on the fringes of the 61st UNCSW Session; the event will discuss obstacles and challenges business women including immigrant and refugee women face in different parts of the world. The objective is to provide an insight into the situation of business women and their possibilities for economic empowerment around the world in an ever- changing world of work.
Speakers and attendees alike will have an opportunity to discuss questions related to the lack of entrepreneurial opportunities for women in certain parts of the world because of various cultural/religious constraints and how to overcome those barriers by using positive experiences and best practices.
The event will be chaired by INLW President Margaret De Vos Van Steenwjik and it will feature LI Human Rights Committee Member and INLW Vice-President Khadija El Morabit, Member of the Swedish Parliament Tina Acketoft (Folkpartiet Liberalerna, LI full-member), INLW VP and Vice-President of the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy Maysing Yang and the Director of Emancipation for the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science Jaqueline Prins.
The meeting will take place on Tuesday, 14 March, from 4:30 to 6:30pm at the Community Church of New York and it will be open to all NGO and permanent mission representatives attending UNCSW. For more information about the event please contact the LI Secretariat.
Liberals around the world have commemorated International Women's Day (8 March) by highlighting some of the most pressing challenges women continue to face because of their gender.
In a video message, former OSCE Commissioner for National Minorities Astrid Thors (Svenska Folkpartiet, LI full-member) reiterated the importance of having a functional criminal justice system in place which protects against all forms of violence against women. "Violence against women should be punishable by law and other countries should now follow the example of the Russian Federation which recently decriminalised domestic violence and violence against women. This puts an enormous pressure on women living in difficult circumstances as we know how difficult it is for them to quit the vicious circle they are in. They need help and shelter from the authorities and a functional criminal law which really protects them" she said.
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">We are today establishing the International Gender Equality Prize. We will grant the award to a dedicated defender and builder of equality <a href="https://t.co/Dbt73IuSS7">https://t.co/Dbt73IuSS7</a></p>— Juha Sipilä (@juhasipila) <a href="https://twitter.com/juhasipila/status/839414638169194496">March 8, 2017</a></blockquote><script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Meeting the hardworking women who serve as Chiefs of Staff in our government ahead of International Women’s Day! <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/IWD2017?src=hash">#IWD2017</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/EqualityMatters?src=hash">#EqualityMatters</a> <a href="https://t.co/SFRMHxL2eo">pic.twitter.com/SFRMHxL2eo</a></p>— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) <a href="https://twitter.com/JustinTrudeau/status/839224483462459392">March 7, 2017</a></blockquote><script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
The President of the International Network of Liberal Women, Margaret de Vos Van Steenwijk, has further appealed for equal access to education and career opportunities for women and girls. "Twice as many women around the world are spending many hours on household responsibilities and unpaid work which goes at the expense of being educated for jobs. We want to change this world of unrewarded work into a world where women and girls are able to make a choice to have a career" she said.
Vice-President on LI Bureau Robert Woodthorpe Browne MBE echoed these messages by stressing that culture cannot be an excuse to violate the rights of women and girls whereas the DA Shadow Minister of Women in the Precedency Denise Robinson (Democratic Alliance, LI full-member) insisted that economic empowerment of women is vital so that they can become an equal member of the society.
The full video message can be accessed on LI's official YouTube channel by clicking on the image below: