A New Internationalism
Labour will put human rights, international law and tackling climate change at the heart of our international policies, and use our global influence to end the ‘bomb first, talk later’ approach to security. Labour will always do what is needed to protect the security of people in the UK.
International peace and security will be a primary objective of a Labour government’s foreign policy. Britain deserves better than the Conservatives’ reckless approach to complex global challenges or the outsourcing of UK foreign policy to US President Donald Trump.
Failed military interventions in countries like Libya have worsened security across North Africa, accelerating the refugee crisis.
Our approach will be based on our values. Within the first year of government Labour will:
- Introduce a War Powers Act to ensure that no prime minister can bypass Parliament to commit to conventional military action. Unlike the Conservatives, we will implement every single recommendation of the Chilcot Inquiry.
- Conduct an audit of the impact of Britain’s colonial legacy to understand our contribution to the dynamics of violence and insecurity across regions previously under British colonial rule.
- Invest an additional £400 million in our diplomatic capacity to secure Britain’s role as a country that promotes peace, delivers ambitious global climate agreements and works through international organisations to secure political settlements to critical issues.
Internationalism is at the core of the Labour movement. We recognise our responsibility to confront injustices we see today and to correct the injustices of the past.
- Establish a judge-led inquiry into our country’s alleged complicity in rendition and torture, and the operation of secret courts.
- Issue a formal apology for the Jallianwala Bagh massacre, and hold a public review into Britain’s role in the Amritsar massacre.
- Allow the people of the Chagos Islands and their descendants the right to return to the lands from which they should never have been removed.
- Uphold the human rights of the people of West Papua and recognise the rights of the people of Western Sahara.
We have a duty to stand up for the security and sovereignty of our overseas territories, including the Falklands, and for the rights of our citizens and dual-nationals abroad, and will continue fighting for justice on behalf of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and other British nationals wrongly imprisoned or suffering mistreatment in captivity abroad.
Human rights and international humanitarian law are fundamental pillars of a secure global system. These principles are under threat. Some of the world’s most powerful states choose to sell arms to human-rights abusing states. Conservative ministers, including Boris Johnson, have signed off well over £2 billion of arms sales to repressive regimes since June 2017.
Around the world, human rights defenders and civil society activists remain vulnerable to attacks, often carried out with impunity.
- Immediately suspend the sale of arms to Saudi Arabia for use in Yemen and to Israel for arms used in violation of the human rights of Palestinian civilians, and conduct a root-and-branch reform of our arms exports regime so ministers can never again turn a blind eye to British-made weapons being used to target innocent civilians.
- Reform the international rules-based order to secure justice and accountability for breaches of human rights and international law, such as the bombing of hospitals in Syria, the illegal blockade of the Gaza Strip, the use of rape as a weapon of war against the Rohingya community in Myanmar and the indiscriminate bombardment of civilians in Yemen.
- We will work through the UN and the Commonwealth to insist on the protection of human rights for Sri Lanka’s minority Tamil and Muslim populations.
- Appoint human-rights advisers to work across the Foreign Office and government to prioritise a co-ordinated approach to human rights.
- Advocate for human rights at every bilateral diplomatic meeting.
There is no greater injustice today than countries in the Global South paying the price for a climate crisis they did not cause. Yet some world leaders, including US President Donald Trump and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, champion a climate-change denial agenda.
Britain’s climate-change diplomacy was respected internationally, playing an important role in securing the Paris Agreement, following the leading role the UK played in securing the Kyoto Agreement. However, Boris Johnson – who has described global warming as a ‘primitive fear… without foundation’ – has overseen a 60% cut in the UK’s global network of climate experts.
Only Labour can rebuild Britain’s leadership on the most serious threat to our shared humanity.
- Rebuild our climate expertise within the Foreign Office, putting climate diplomacy at the heart of our foreign policy.
- Use our influence at the UN, EU, G7, G20, World Bank, the Commonwealth and other global institutions to promote policies to tackle the climate emergency.
- Use our diplomatic expertise to negotiate and deliver more ambitious global targets to deal with the climate emergency, starting with COP 26 in Glasgow next year.
Prioritising Conflict Prevention and Building Peace
The Conservatives have failed to play a constructive role in resolving the world’s most pressing humanitarian crises, including in Kashmir, Yemen and Myanmar, and the escalation of tensions with Iran. The treatment of the Kurdish people in Syria, including by Turkey, and of the Uighurs in China has been met with total inaction and apathy by the current UK government. In some cases, they set aside regard for international law, including refusing to criticise Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman of Saudi Arabia over the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Labour is committed to a comprehensive peace in the Middle East based on a two-state solution – a secure Israel alongside a secure and viable state of Palestine.
There can be no military solution to this conflict, which must be settled on the basis of justice and international law. All sides must avoid taking action that would make peace harder to achieve.
That means both an end to the blockade, occupation and settlements, and an end to rocket and terror attacks. Labour will continue to press for an immediate return to meaningful negotiations leading to a diplomatic resolution. A Labour government will immediately recognise the state of Palestine.
Labour will take all lawful action necessary to counter and confront all forms of terrorism, and we will advocate a long-term multinational political strategy, led by regional actors, to tackle the spread of extremism.
We believe effective diplomacy can address the drivers of conflict and insecurity.
- Build support for UN reform, including assessing and developing democratisation initiatives, and improving the engagement of the General Assembly in decision-making to ensure its institutions are more effective at achieving peace.
- Prioritise our responsibility to prevent conflict by investing in local capacities for peacebuilding in areas of conflict – advocating for political, multilateral strategies for peace.
- Act immediately to urge negotiations towards a political resolution to conflict wherever it arises, including in the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa.
The primary duty of government is to guarantee the security of people in the UK. Labour’s defence policy will be strategic and evidence-led.
Our security at home is made stronger when the security of others elsewhere is guaranteed too.
An incoming Labour government will undertake a Strategic Defence and Security Review to assess the security challenges facing Britain, including new forms of hybrid, cyber and remote warfare. This review will also take account of the climate emergency, and associated threats of resource competition, involuntary migration and violent conflict.
Under the Conservatives:
- Boris Johnson refuses to publish the report into possible foreign interference by Russia in UK democracy.
- Trained army personnel have been cut from 102,000 to just over 74,000.
- Armed forces and their families have been forced to live in sub-standard accommodation.
- Failing outsourced contracts have not been terminated.
- Our Armed Forces personnel received below-inflation pay rises for seven years.
The security challenges we face know no borders. Labour will increase funding for UN peacekeeping operations to £100 million. We will maintain our commitment to NATO and our close relationship with our European partners, and we will use our influence at the United Nations to support peace and security worldwide.
Labour supports the renewal of the Trident nuclear deterrent. Labour will also actively lead multilateral efforts under our obligations to the Non-Proliferation Treaty to create a nuclear-free world.
Labour’s commitment to spend at least 2% of GDP on defence will guarantee that our armed forces are versatile and capable of fulfilling the full range of roles and obligations.
We will scrap the public sector pay cap, which resulted in a real-terms pay cut for our armed forces, ensure decent housing for forces members and their families, and guarantee better access for all forces children to good quality local schools.
We will consult on creating a representative body for the armed forces, akin to the Police Federation.
Labour will improve opportunities for veterans through access to lifelong learning and training, housing and mental and physical health services, and will seek greater consistency in the implementation of the Armed Forces Covenant by public authorities.
We will pay a lump sum of £50,000 to each surviving British nuclear-test veteran to support them and their families with the health conditions they have suffered as a result of exposure to radiation. We will also ensure that black and Asian soldiers who fought in Britain’s colonial armies receive a full apology and explore ways to compensate them for the discriminatory demob payments they received compared to their white counterparts serving at the same rank in the same regiments.
The UK defence industry is world-leading and Labour will continue to work with manufacturers, unions and export partners in line with Labour’s foreign policy to support innovation in this sector to ensure it maintains its highly skilled workforce and world-class apprenticeship programme.
We are committed to procurement that supports UK defence manufacturing including our aerospace and shipbuilding, alongside a vibrant supply chain that includes the British steel industry and other component manufacturing companies providing good jobs throughout supply chains.
Labour will publish a Defence Industrial Strategy White Paper, including a National Shipbuilding Strategy, that keeps all Royal Navy and Royal Fleet Auxiliary shipbuilding contracts in the UK, to secure a long-term future for the industry and its workers.
Reducing our carbon footprint can only happen with ambitious emissions reduction targets at the Ministry of Defence, one of government’s biggest energy users. So as part of our Green Industrial Revolution, we will create a Climate Change Sustainability Committee within the department to review the feasibility of increasing the use of sustainable energy in defence, and publish a strategy to accelerate the safe and sustainable recycling of our old nuclear submarines.
The scale of the challenges facing our world are enormous. Conflict, climate change and a global economy rigged in favour of a tiny elite are driving instability and inequality across the world. A bold international development policy driven by social justice has never been more needed.
Labour will use Britain’s influence within the World Bank, IMF and WTO to transform the rules of the global economy so they work for the many.
We recognise the need to address historic injustices and will reset our relationships with countries in the Global South based on principles of redistribution and equality, not outdated notions of charity or imperialist rule. Unlike the Conservatives, Labour is fully committed to a standalone Department for International Development (DfID), with an aid budget of at least 0.7% of gross national income. We will introduce the reduction of inequality as a goal for all aid spending alongside existing poverty reduction and gender equality goals.
For the Conservatives, too often humanitarian aid is undermined by their disastrous foreign policy, as in Yemen. Under Labour, we will ensure policy coherence across our international-facing departments. Under Labour, DfID will continue to respond to the world’s biggest crises and will ensure humanitarian aid is provided according to need, not whether the UK has commercial or other interests in the country. DfID will assume a strong position in cross-government decision making, including a permanent seat on the Export Control Joint Unit responsible for licensing arms exports.
Our international programme will be based on human rights and gender equality.
- Uphold basic rights to education, health and clean water by establishing a new Unit for Public Services within DfID, which will include increasing direct budgetary support to governments so they can build sustainable services for their citizens.
- Promote fairer international tax rules and help countries in the Global South build progressive tax systems to finance essential public services.
- Support trade unions internationally in their efforts to promote collective bargaining for better pay and conditions, and include binding social chapters in trade agreements to safeguard workers’ rights.
- Support ongoing UN efforts to introduce a binding international treaty on business and human rights, and make companies legally accountable for failing to prevent human rights abuses or environmental damage in their operations and supply chains, including criminal liability in the most serious cases.
- Implement a gender transformative approach across all our international work, including tripling funding for grassroots women’s organisations and establishing an independent ombudsman to tackle abuse in the development sector.
Labour believes in climate justice.
Wealthy countries like the UK bear the greatest responsibility for the climate emergency. Countries in the Global South that have done the least to cause climate change are already facing the worst impacts, such as rising sea levels, more frequent hurricanes and greater food insecurity. We have a duty to right this wrong.
- Provide a top-up of new and additional spending on international climate finance to bring the total to £4 billion a year, and also support international calls for compensation to those nations already suffering loss and damage.
- Stop all aid spending on fossil fuel production overseas, redirecting it towards clean, renewable energy for all.
- End all UK Export Finance support to fossil fuel projects, and reject any trade deals that conflict with our climate principles.
- Undertake a root-and-branch reform of CDC Group plc (DfID’s principal vehicle for encouraging private sector investment in developing countries), transforming it into a green development bank mandated to fight poverty, inequality and climate change.
Labour respects the crucial role played by small-scale farmers the world over in guaranteeing people the right to food.
- Establish an aid-funded Food Sovereignty Fund to enable small- scale farmers in the Global South to gain access to land, seeds and finance, and uphold indigenous peoples’ right to land.
- Support sustainable local food and agriculture markets in the fight against climate change.
Labour believes human rights should drive our trade policy.
- Implement UK arms export controls to the highest standard, putting an end to exports where they might be used in violation of human rights or international humanitarian law.
- Ensure government procurement contracts are not granted to companies that are complicit in serious human rights abuses, and require all UK trade agreements to be consistent with international humanitarian law.
- Introduce legislation to ensure transparency and parliamentary scrutiny of trade and investment agreements.
- Reject any trade agreements that undermine labour standards or environmental protections, and rule out UK Export Finance support to companies engaged in bribery or corruption.
Labour recognises the right to essential medicines as an integral part of the right to health.
- Promote fairer international patent regimes that do not prevent countries from accessing essential medicines and support efforts to increase the transparency of medicines pricing so governments can negotiate fair prices.
- In the long term, ensure that all medicines developed with the support of UK taxpayer money are accessible to people in the Global South.