A Global Britain
We will put conflict resolution and human rights at the heart of foreign policy, commit to working through the UN, end support for unilateral aggressive wars of intervention and back effective action to alleviate the refugee crisis.
Unlike the Conservatives, Labour believes Britain’s foreign policy should be guided by the values of peace, universal rights and international law. Today, these values are being tested. As we leave the European Union, keeping Britain global is one of our country’s most urgent tasks.
We face the most complex, interwoven security and development challenges of our time; ongoing wars across the Middle East, unprecedented numbers of refugees, global terrorism, climate change, the threat of nuclear conflict, a devastating food crisis across East Africa and beyond, an erratic US administration and a more combative government in Russia.
The lessons of the past, including those from the Chilcot Inquiry, show why our response to these challenges must be different. We cannot seek to solve the world’s problems on our own but instead must exhaust diplomatic solutions alongside international, regional and local partners within the framework of international law.
This will require a modern and inclusive strategy, uniting the interwoven foreign policy instruments of diplomacy, defence and development.
Labour recognises that, in leaving the EU, Britain will face both challenges and opportunities. We are deeply ambitious for our country’s future and will draw on our international networks to make Britain a champion of multilateral engagement. We will invest in the UK’s diplomatic services, rebuilding some of the key capabilities lost as a result of Tory cuts.
Since the Second World War, Britain’s most important diplomatic relationship has been with the US. But that special relationship is based on shared values. When the current Trump administration chooses to ignore them, whether by discriminating on the basis of religion or breaking its climate change commitments, we will not be afraid to disagree.
From the Middle East to Africa, in recent years millions of people have been killed, injured or displaced through wars, terrorism and military intervention. In Syria alone, more than 400,000 people have been killed. Labour will work tirelessly to end the conflict and get the diplomatic process back on track, while fully supporting international efforts to investigate, prosecute and convict the perpetrators of war crimes.
Labour is strongly committed to reducing human suffering caused by war. We will publish a strategy for protecting civilians in conflict, setting out detailed plans for work on conflict prevention and resolution, post-conflict peacebuilding, and justice for the victims of war crimes. Labour has created a Minister for Peace and Disarmament to lead this work.
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 and 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.
We will also urge negotiations towards a political resolution in all other regions currently experiencing conflict, including Kashmir, Libya, Nigeria, Sudan, South Sudan, Somalia and Yemen, and give our strong support to those countries already working to end decades of division, including Colombia, Cyprus and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
In other regions, including the Korean Peninsula and the South China Sea, rising tensions threaten global peace. Under a Labour government, Britain will work to reduce those tensions through an insistence on multilateral political dialogue.
From Afghanistan and Iraq to the streets of European cities, Daesh continues to commit acts of indiscriminate barbarism. We will take all lawful action necessary to counter and confront this evil, and we will advocate a long-term multinational political strategy, led by regional actors, to tackle the spread of extremism.
In our discussions with different governments, including China, Egypt, the Gulf States, Myanmar, the Philippines, Russia and Turkey, we will urge respect for human rights and the rule of law. We will review all training and equipment contracts with repressive regimes, to ensure that Britain never colludes in the mistreatment of civilians.
We will always stand up for the rights, interests and self-determination of Britain’s overseas territories and their citizens, whether protecting the sovereignty of the Falkland Islands against anyone who would seek to challenge it or supporting the right of the Chagos islanders to return to their homelands.
We will reclaim Britain’s leading role in tackling climate change, working hard to preserve the Paris Agreement and deliver on international commitments to reduce emissions while mitigating the impacts of climate change on developing countries.
While strengthening our commitment to the UN, we also acknowledge its shortcomings, particularly in light of repeated abuses of the veto power by some permanent members of the UN Security Council. We will work with our international partners to build support for UN reform and make its institutions more effective and responsive. We will appoint dedicated global ambassadors for women’s rights, LGBT rights and religious freedom to fight discrimination and promote equality globally.
Exports, trade and investment play a vital role in creating jobs and growth in Britain, and Labour supports the considerable contribution that a responsible, world-leading defence and security industry makes to the UK economy. However, we also believe that strong export controls have a vital role to play in sustaining a legitimate trade in arms while protecting UK jobs and R&D. Labour will, therefore, implement the Arms Trade Treaty to a consistently high standard, including ceasing arms exports to countries where there is concern that they will be used to violate international humanitarian law (IHL).
In particular, Labour will demand a comprehensive, independent, UN-led investigation into alleged violations of IHL in Yemen, including air strikes on civilians by the Saudi-led coalition. We will immediately suspend any further arms sales for use in the conflict until that investigation is concluded.
Labour remains committed to an independent inquiry into Britain’s military role in the 1984 raid on the Golden Temple in Amritsar.
The primary duty of any government is to protect and defend its citizens. We live in a period of growing international tensions. A strong, viable and sustainable defence and security policy must be strategic and evidence led.
As previous incoming governments have done, a Labour government will order a complete strategic defence and security review when it comes into office, to assess the emerging threats facing Britain, including hybrid and cyber warfare. Cybersecurity will form an integral part of our defence and security strategy and we will introduce a cyber-security charter for companies working with the Ministry of Defence.
We will ensure that our armed forces are properly equipped and resourced to respond to wide-ranging security challenges. Labour will commit to effective UN peacekeeping, including support for a UN Emergency Peace Service.
As the security threats and challenges we face are not bound by geographic borders, it is vital that as Britain leaves the EU, we maintain our close relationship with our European partners. Alongside our commitment to NATO, we will continue to work with the EU on a range of operational missions to promote and support global and regional security.
The last Labour government consistently spent above the NATO benchmark of 2 per cent of GDP. Conservative spending cuts have put Britain’s security at risk, shrinking the army to its smallest size since the Napoleonic wars. The scrapping of Nimrod, HMS Ark Royal and the Harrier jump-jets have weakened our defences and cost British taxpayers millions.
Labour’s commitment to spending at least 2 per cent of GDP on defence will guarantee that our Armed Forces have the necessary capabilities to fulfil the full range of obligations, and ensure our conventional forces are versatile and able to deploy in a range of roles.
Labour supports the renewal of the Trident nuclear deterrent. As a nuclear-armed power, our country has a responsibility to fulfil our obligations under the Nuclear Non- Proliferation Treaty. Labour will lead multilateral efforts with international partners and the UN to create a nuclear-free world.
The UK defence industry is world- leading, and Labour will continue to support development and innovation in this sector and to ensure that it can continue to rely on a highly skilled workforce. We are committed to a procurement process that supports the British steel industry and defence manufacturing industry, which in turn provide good jobs throughout the supply chain. Labour will publish a Defence Industrial Strategy White Paper, including a National Shipbuilding Strategy to secure a long-term future for the industry, workers and UK defence.
We have a duty to properly reward and remunerate our Armed Forces. Under the Conservatives, our Armed Forces have been hit by rent rises, pay restraint, and changes to tax and benefits, putting real pressure on service personnel and their families. We will ensure they get the pay and living conditions that their service merits.
Dedicated service personnel are at the heart of our defence policy. Labour will immediately examine recruitment and retention policies in order to stem the exodus seen under the Conservatives. We will publish new strategic equality objectives to ensure our personnel reflect our diverse society.
We will drive up standards in Service Accommodation, and take action where private companies have failed to deliver. We will consult with service personnel, giving them greater autonomy over their housing choices, and review and improve the Forces Help to Buy scheme.
Personnel who are injured while serving should have prompt access to support and compensation. We will resist any Conservative proposals to abolish the right to seek legal redress against the MoD where compensation claims cannot be otherwise settled.
We are fully committed to supporting our veterans. We will promote greater awareness of the Armed Forces Covenant, seek greater consistency in its implementation by public authorities, and promote increased participation in the Corporate Covenant.
We will also roll out a Homes Fit for Heroes programme that will insulate the homes of disabled veterans for free.
Labour has a proud record on international development. We will continue to spend 0.7 per cent of gross national income on overseas development assistance, and develop a targeted development agenda based on the principles of redistribution, social justice, women’s rights and poverty reduction.
Labour will take robust action to end the self-regulation of Department for International Development private contractors, establishing and enforcing new rules to ensure aid is used to reduce poverty for the many, not to increase profits for the few.
We fully support the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) agreed globally to eradicate poverty and protect the environment. Labour will develop a cross-government strategy for ensuring the SDGs are implemented and report annually to Parliament on our performance.
In the wake of Brexit, to fulfil our national obligations under the SDGs, Labour will guarantee the least developed countries continued access to the UK market to protect vital export revenues.
There are more refugees and displaced people around the world than at any time since the Second World War. This is a failure of diplomacy, conflict resolution and of human rights, which is why they will be at the heart of Labour’s foreign policy.
The Conservatives have completely failed to show any leadership on this issue. In the first 100 days of government, we will produce a cross-departmental strategy to meet our international obligations on the refugee crisis.
The current global tax system is deeply unjust. Africa’s economies alone lose more than £46 billion annually through corruption and tax evasion – more than 10 times what they receive in aid. Labour will act decisively on tax havens, introducing strict standards of transparency for crown dependencies and overseas territories, including a public register of owners, directors, major shareholders and beneficial owners for all companies and trusts.
We will work in partnership with communities in the Global South to develop long-term strategies for strengthening economies and societies. We would reinstate the Civil Society Challenge Fund to support trade unions, women’s associations and other civil society organisations which are the most effective forces in winning human rights and workers’ rights.
Jobs in global supply chains can be of enormous importance to working people across the Global South, but human rights abuses and exploitation of lower environmental standards and workers’ rights are too common. Labour is committed to ensuring respect for human rights, workers’ rights and environmental sustainability in the operations of British businesses around the world, and we will work to tighten the rules governing corporate accountability for abuses in global supply chains.
Labour will work with business to ensure the provisions of the Modern Slavery Act are fully respected, including reporting on due diligence in supply chains. We will extend the remit of the Groceries Code Adjudicator beyond direct suppliers to ensure fair treatment for all those producing goods for the UK’s largest supermarkets.
At least a billion people around the world cannot currently obtain the health services they need, and another 100 million are pushed below the poverty line as a result of paying for their services. We will establish a Centre for Universal Health Coverage, providing global partnerships, support and encouragement to countries that want UHC, helping them to generate the funding and systems required for its delivery.
We will invest in new public-health driven research and development to find effective and affordable treatments for diseases in the developing world, including fighting TB, malaria, HIV/AIDS and neglected tropical diseases.