Green Party Manifesto 2010 - 5. International development, peace and security

Foreign policy and defence

Immigration

Trade, aid and debt

Green Party international policy is aimed at reducing global inequalities, in the name of fairness, sustainability and peace, and in the context of an interdependent world.

We will make Britain a force for international good, respected throughout the global community, and cease simply being the United States’ best and most reliable ally.

Respect is gained through international policies designed to help the vulnerable to help themselves in a global framework that gives every country a voice in decisionmaking.

Respect is gained by taking a leading role in preventing conflict, protecting civilians threatened by conflict and promoting human rights and international law.

The Green Party wants Britain to have this kind of respect.

International organisations today reflect power rather than democracy.

The Green Party will work towards democratising the international community, sharing power, influence and wealth more fairly and more widely.

These are the foundations of peace and security for all. Secure peoples, at ease with themselves and with others, seek peace rather than war.

Terrorism and the causes of terrorism

The Green Party condemns the indiscriminate use of violence to achieve political ends, and especially the targeting of civilians. We believe that the normal processes of criminal investigation and law should be used against the perpetrators of such attacks.

Terrorist attacks in the UK are linked to our invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, and we believe that part of the ultimate solution lies in a just overall settlement in the Middle East. We believe that the overwhelming majority of UK Muslims oppose such attacks, and we condemn the scapegoating of the Muslim community.

We oppose the way the Government has used the attacks to introduce ever more draconian measures that undermine all our civil liberties, and would end the use of control orders, restrict pre-charge detention of terrorist suspects to 7 days and end the policy of ‘Deportation with Assurances’ (which can result in torture).

Foreign policy and defence

Respecting the international

We would:

  • Take the troops out of Afghanistan. It is now absolutely clear that our security has been compromised, not improved, by our part in the counterproductive invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan. We believe that the best way forward is a regional peace process involving all the Afghan people and the countries in the region.
  • Not attack Iran. Iran’s genuine security concerns must be properly addressed, and military intervention would be counterproductive.
  • As preconditions of continued favourable trading relations, oblige Israel to end the siege of Gaza, stop settlement expansion and commit to ending the occupation. We recognise that peace will be only be achieved when the principal peacemakers adopt a less one-sided approach.
  • Not replace Trident.We cannot conceive of any circumstances in which we would use these expensive and immoral weapons; we would decommission the existing system and not renew it.
  • Otherwise reduce defence expenditure, partly by withdrawing from Afghanistan, and by reviewing the need for certain expensive weapons systems, but always ensuring that where our forces are committed they are properly equipped.
  • Act to reduce arms sales worldwide by ending Government support for and subsidies of arms exports, including through UK Trade & Investment’s Defence & Security Organisation and the Export Credits Guarantee Department.
  • Press for successful negotiations over a robust and comprehensive global Arms Trade Treaty.
  • Use skills and resources at present tied up in military industry in the UK to create new jobs and produce socially useful products, especially in the renewable energy sector.
  • Not participate in the US missile defence system, and leave NATO.
  • Recognise the importance of civil society organisations and of a free press worldwide and their role in promoting transparency, democracy, good governance and fighting corruption.
  • Reform the UN and other international institutions. The current structure of the UN Security Council, with permanent seats for France, the UK, the US, Russia and China, is made undemocratic and often impotent by the right to veto. Poor countries in particular need better representation.We will work to reform the United Nations by abolishing all permanent seats on the Security Council and introducing decision-making by majority vote.
  • Outlaw the use of torture, including the practice of extraordinary rendition. We support free speech and the right to protest.
  • The EU needs a proper constitution, but the Lisbon Treaty is not up to the job. A European Constitution should define the values, objectives, powers, decision-making procedures and institutions of the EU, and also set out the basic rights of citizens. In every action of the EU, social justice and environmental factors must be regarded as over-riding purely economic objectives. We oppose the militarisation of the EU.
  • We oppose UK adoption of the European single currency, the euro.

Gaza

Green Party Leader Caroline Lucas has spoken out against Israel’s longstanding campaign of ‘collective punishment’ against the people of Gaza, which cuts off the flow of fuel, commercial and humanitarian supplies, profoundly affects the region’s water and sanitation system, and is responsible for the suffering of over 860,000 vulnerable people.

The EU’s Association Agreement with Israel is expressly dependent on both sides respecting basic human rights. Despite persistent breaches, these clauses have never been invoked.

Caroline says ‘Under these circumstances, the EU’s Association Agreement with Israel must be immediately suspended. Suspending the trade agreement and attaching the necessary conditions to any future trade policy with Israel would allow the EU an opportunity to play a significant role in bringing peace and stability to the Middle East.’

 

A positive role in Europe

A fundamental principle of Green politics is that decisions should be taken at the lowest practicable level: sometimes things dealt with at national level might better be decided regionally or more locally. So why bother with the European Union at all?

Greens are internationalists; we want to foster solidarity between peoples, and we believe co-operation builds peace, as it has done in Europe. Our geography means that we are part of Europe. We believe in Europe, but not in a European superstate.

Our vision for Europe seeks to replace the unsustainable economics of free trade and growth with the alternative of local self-reliance. We want to foster co-operation on issues of common interest, not establish international institutions for their own sake. Accordingly we are critical of many of the objectives built in to the EU treaties, of the EU institutions and how they work, and of many particular EU policies. We believe many things done and decided in Europe might better be done by member states or by regions or localities. So while we are members of the EU we will work for its fundamental reform.

However there are matters – safeguarding basic rights, peace and security achieved through mutual understanding, environmental protection, the spread of culture and ideas, regulation of the financial system – where we agree that EU action is appropriate. While the EU has control over trade, we accept that in practice the way to affect these matters is to call for EU action – so we call, for example, for an EU ban on genetically modified (GM) foods because in current circumstances that is the best way to achieve a ban in the UK.

And there are other matters – for example, welfare policy – where although member states retain basic control, the Open Method of Coordination between member states allows for a useful measure of discussion and co-ordination on matters of mutual interest.

Immigration

Migration is a fact of life. People have always moved from one country to another, and as a practical matter the ability to control borders without oppressive measures is more limited than most politicians like to pretend. Much of our language, culture and way of life have been enriched by successive new arrivals over two thousand years.

It is not just a matter of immigration – over 5 million British Citizens benefit from other countries’ liberal immigration policies by living abroad.

The causes of a person moving to the UK are complex.

For the person concerned, there may be escape from persecution and improved economic prospects, but also separation from home, friends and family. For the country of origin, there may be the loss of skilled workers, especially health professionals, but also the receipt of remittances from the immigrant, and many migrants return with improved skills.

For the community that receives the immigrant there may be the benefits of getting done jobs that no one in that community wants to or can do, more taxes being paid and the creation of a more cosmopolitan atmosphere. But there may also be costs in terms of unwelcome competition for jobs, pressure on housing and other resources and longer-term pressures on overall population.

In deciding policy on immigration it is important that all these points are considered and balanced against each other.We must accept too our legal and moral obligations to give sanctuary to those fleeing persecution, and the principle of free movement throughout the European Union.

Against this background our policy is as follows:

  • Where we are limiting numbers, our priority must be to meet our obligations to refugees and those seeking sanctuary, including the increasing numbers of people displaced by environmental change, above the needs of our economy.
  • Our immigration policies must be fair and non-discriminatory, respect the integrity of families and be applied promptly and effectively.
  • Our international policies should everywhere seek to reduce the economic, political and environmental factors that force people to migrate. Emigration should be a positive choice, not the outcome of desperation. In particular, free movement within the EU is a fact.We should press for EU policies that make all parts of the EU an attractive place to live.
  • We reject the use of immigration as a political issue to mask problems such as a lack of high-quality social housing. The proper solution is to provide enough social housing, as we propose elsewhere in this manifesto.
  • We should not tolerate the long-term presence of large numbers of people whose immigration status is not defined. Such immigrants are vulnerable to exploitation by unscrupulous employers and others, undermining national terms and conditions of employment.We would open up ways for existing illegal migrants who have been here for three years to become legal. In particular, a legal status must be provided for people who have not succeeded in their claim for humanitarian protection but who cannot be returned to their country of origin due to the political situation there.
  • We would review the asylum procedures to ensure that destitution plays no role in the asylum process by allowing those seeking sanctuary to work.
  • We would review the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002, particularly with regard to issues of access to legal advice, childcare and levels of subsistence allowance.
  • Those who have been trafficked should not be subject to summary deportation. They should receive a temporary right to stay and have the same right to apply to remain as others seeking to migrate.
  • Those seeking sanctuary should not be detained, and in particular the administrative detention of children is unacceptable and should cease immediately.

Trade, aid and debt

Making it fair, making it sustainable

Free trade has been globalisation’s mantra for over 30 years. It comes at a cost because:

  • It encourages a ‘race to the bottom’, in which countries are forced to compete with one another to offer the lowest costs, leading to downward pressure on wages and environmental protection, as well as lowering of corporate taxation.
  • The liberalisation of trade in goods and services has rendered the world economy increasingly unstable because economic contagion spreads more quickly.
  • It destroys infant industries in poorer countries, which are forced to open their markets to imports from more developed countries, and undermines efforts to become more self-reliant in both North and South.
  • It produces increased international trade, which makes a significant contribution to the rise in transport-related carbon emissions.

So we seek trading relations, particularly with poor people in poor countries, that give them a fair price for their products within a stable and sustainable pattern of trade.

Poorer countries are entitled to protect their people and their markets from unregulated competition, and we would seek to turn the World Trade Organization into a General Agreement on Sustainable Trade, which, together with a reformed International Monetary Fund, would better reflect the interests of smaller countries.

We would:

  • Promote fair trade, so that trade with developing countries is based on decent pay and conditions, with a fair price paid to producers.
  • Ensure that trade deals, whether global or with the European Union, allow developing countries to retain control over their economies and do not force through deregulation and liberalisation.
  • Promote an international Financial Transactions Tax (a Robin Hood Tax) on transactions between financial institutions, and introduce unilaterally a small levy on foreign currency transactions involving the pound sterling.
  • Support the decent work agenda, by encouraging developing countries with which we work to implement core International Labour Organization standards.
  • Ensure that UK companies operating abroad adhere to environmental and human rights standards.
  • Fully implement and enforce the UN Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) and the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention.
  • Increase aid.We will exceed the UN’s 0.7% target and allocate at least 1% of UK Gross National Product for aid by 2011, adding an extra £4.5bn pa. Aid should be targeted for the poorest, not involve economic policy conditions, respect gender equality and not be diverted to equipping security forces.
  • Keep an International Aid Department separate from the Foreign Office, with its own Secretary of State, so as to separate foreign policy interests from humanitarian assistance.

The Robin Hood Tax

We support the idea of a Robin Hood Tax, sometimes called a Financial Transactions Tax (and similar to the special case of a ‘Tobin Tax’ on currency transactions). It would involve a very small tax (maybe 0.05%) on the value of every financial transaction between financial institutions worldwide. Globally this tax has the potential to raise as much as £250 billion, as well as help stabilise the financial markets.

Any global climate change treaty must involve a transfer of resources of well over US$150 billion a year from rich countries to poorer countries channelled through the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to pay for the development of renewable energy technologies and climate change adaptation, and to help resist deforestation.

We favour dedicating the revenues from an international financial transactions tax to this purpose and to wider global sustainable development. If that does not prove successful the UK must pay its fair contribution from other resources.

Debt, and ecological debt

The Green Party calls for a reassessment of the nature of debt itself by acknowledging the historical ecological debt owed by rich to poor countries.

A 2008 study by the University of California, Berkeley, found that the rich world’s ecological debt to the poor world outstrips the traditional debt owed by poor countries to rich ones.

For example, greenhouse emissions from low-income countries have imposed US$740 billion of damage on rich countries, while in return rich countries have imposed US$2300 billion of damage on poorer countries.

The ecological debt has been built up by: the extraction of natural resources without proper payment; the use of local and indigenous knowledge for the development of products (e.g. medicines) without proper recompense; the use of local land for mono-crop export rather than for feeding the local population; and the appropriation of the atmosphere for the disproportionate emission of climate change gases.

Ecological debt needs to be acknowledged and paid for. Simultaneously, the Green Party wants to see the cancellation of all unjust and unsustainable traditional debt ‘owed’ by the developing world to richer countries.

Debts are often unjust and they worsen poverty. Much of the poorer world’s debt is left over from reckless lending by wealthier countries in the 1970s. Some of the effects of this are made worse by corrupt government in parts of the developing world, but the real damage is done by the huge repayments demanded by the IMF, the World Bank, and rich-country governments.

At the moment there are lots of strings attached to debt cancellation, often unjust and undemocratic in themselves. We want to see these strings removed. In the end the only way to avoid debt in the future is economic justice now. This is why we positively support the Millennium Development Goals and their achievement by the 2015 target.