The Liberal Democrats are an internationalist party, seeking to promote a liberal democratic society worldwide. Working through our international network (Liberal International), our European party, which is represented in the European Parliament as part of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) Party, and other relevant bodies, and through our democracy building work using funds from the Westminster Foundation for Democracy (WFD), we promote liberal democratic policies throughout the world.
The Federal International Relations Committee (FIRC) of the party is a sub-committee of the Federal Executive. It meets 4 times a year, and acts as the consultative and coordinating body of the party regarding its activities on the international stage. Additional meetings are called to prepare resolutions for Liberal International and ALDE Committee meetings and Congresses in conjunction with the Party's delegates to these meetings.
Composition of the Committee
The committee consists of representatives of Federal Committees, relevant international bodies, parliamentary representatives and co-opted experts, and is led by a Chairperson elected by the Federal Executive.
The membership of the FIRC for 2020 is made up as follows:
- Chair: Jonathan Fryer
- Secretary (co-opted): Denali Ranasinghe
- Elected Members: Jonathan Fryer, Philip Bennion, Ruth Coleman Taylor, Philippa Leslie-Jones, Doreen Huddart, Hannah Bettsworth
- Federal Board representative: Joyce Onstad
- LI British Group representative: Adrian Hyyrylainen-Trett
- LI representatives: Robert Woodthorpe Browne & Philip Bennion
- Liberal Democrat European Group representative: David Chalmers
- Young Liberals representative: Catriona McDougall
- Representative of the Liberal Democrats Abroad: George Cunningham, Paul Fisher & Rob Harrison
- State Party representatives: John Kelly (England), Jenny Randerson (Wales), Graham Watson (Scotland)
- Ex-officio: Mark Pack, Robert Woodthorpe Browne
- International Office: Isabelle Pucher
Role and Remit
The terms of reference of the FIRC, taken from the Strategy Review approved by the Federal Executive in 2001 are as follows:
- To co-ordinate input into and feedback from ALDE and LI
- To co-ordinate relations with overseas parties
- Co-ordination of the work of the European Parliamentary Party, the International Affairs Team, the Leaders' Office, and the Party in relation to our policy and political input to ALDE bodies.
- Liaison with the European Parliamentary Party, feeding and promoting relevant information to the wider Party on issues and activities.
- Links with Party policy making and manifesto development through working groups and reviews and reviews with a view to bringing in the wider network of contacts and expertise to which the Committee has access, including
- Power to propose issues to other bodies including the FPC and the Parliamentary International Affairs Team for active consideration
- Right to review and comment upon the proposed terms of reference and membership of policy groups concerned with European and international affairs
- Ability to undertake policy development commissions on the specific request of the FPC and the International Affairs Team
- Briefing by Parliamentarians and other policy-makers as a conduit to wider discussion of policy and events in the Party and, in particular, those in the Party interested in international matters
Participation in planning for European elections and specifically:
- The opportunity to review and comment on the Party's manifesto for European Parliament elections
- Links with the Election Campaigns Group via a representative
- Participation, with Chairman of the International Relations Committee and the Head of the International Office, in the International Affairs Team meetings
- Responsibility for addressing the general state of international knowledge and commitment throughout the Party with a view to educating and involving members in international matters. This will include creating opportunities, with bodies such as the LDEG and the LI (British Group) to promote discussion and follow up debate.