The Liberal Democrats are an internationalist party, seeking to promote a liberal democratic society worldwide.
Working through our international network Liberal International (LI); our European party Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) Party; 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 globe.
The Federal International Relations Committee (FIRC) is a sub-committee of the Federal Executive. It meets a minimum of 4 times a year; acting as the consultative and coordinating body of the Party regarding its activities on the international stage. Additional meetings are called to prepare resolutions for LI and ALDE Committee meetings and congresses in conjunction with the Party's delegates to these meetings.
The terms of reference of the FIRC, taken from the Strategy Review approved by the Federal Executive in 2001 are as follows:
Participation in planning for specifically:
The sub-committees meet regularly as required to discuss important matters and give advice on policy relating to these areas:
Europe - Hannah Bettsworth (Chair); Robert Harrison (Vice-Chair)
China - George Cunningham (Chair); Larry Ngan (Vice-Chair)
Commonwealth & Global South - Chair & Vice Chair - TBC
Communications & Fundraising - Iain Smith (Chair); Audrey Eager (Vice-Chair)
After studying German with European Institutions at Edinburgh University, David worked at HM Treasury, followed by a successful career in international publishing. Running commercial operations from Hong Kong and China for ten years for the Economist Group's Asia Pacific wing, his team were awarded the Queen’s Award for Enterprise in 2002.
A co-founder of the Kaleidoscope Trust, David has always even passionate about international LGBT+ rights and today is a Trustee and former Chair of the charity Sunrise Diversity, and sits on the Board of TicBox Productions. He also served as a Governor of Petroc College for 7 years.
Joining the Lib Dems in 2015, David was elected and served as a parish councilor for 7 years in Northern Devon, as well as Mayor of Northam during the pandemic and Chair of Devon Association of Local Councils. He sat on Devon & Cornwall’s Regional Executive as its Diversity Champion for 5 years. David stood as PPC for Torridge & West Devon in the 2017 and 2019 General Elections, securing second place; he was also a candidate on the Southwest List for the 2019 European Elections.
From 2017, David was Chair of Lib Dem European Group, standing down after 5 years following re-election to FIRC for a second term and subsequently election as its Chair in January 2023. In May 2023, he successfully led his first Lib Dem delegation to ALDE Congress in Stockholm and then the Liberal International Executive Committee meeting in Ottawa. David has been ALDE Rainbow Ambassador since 2022.
Hannah Bettsworth joined the Liberal Democrats as a teenager in 2011, and subsequently served in a number of roles within the Scottish party, including Co-Chair of Young Liberals Scotland and as its representative . She stood for the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh Central in the May 2016 elections, and emigrated after the Brexit referendum, eventually arriving in Brussels where she has been since 2019. She works as an Associate Consultant at APCO Worldwide in the area of EU health policy. Previously, she worked for Rare Diseases Europe, a patient advocacy organisation, and as a Schuman Trainee at the European Parliament in the area of EU-UK relations.
Hannah was elected to the Federal International Relations Committee in 2019 and re-elected in 2022, and now serves as the Vice Chair of the FIRC.
My background in Health and Social Care, with practical experience of working in Hospitals, Community, Higher Education and the Voluntary Sector across the UK. I also worked abroad for a couple of NGOs involved in the assessment, planning and distribution of Aid in conflict zones. This all developed my insights into both international Practice and Policy. I first became a City Councillor in 1994, then after moving back to Newcastle won a seat in 2002 which I have continued to hold since then.
I’ve held various Portfolios over the years and am currently Opposition spokesperson for Housing. I also served for 8 years on the Community Wellbeing Board of the LGA. I was an active member of Committee of Regions from 2008 until we left in 2019 and undertook several Electoral Monitoring roles for the EC. As a committed European I take a particular interest in pre-accession states and the Western Balkans
George is the Chair of the FIRC subcommittee on China and Chair of the Liberal Democrats Abroad Steering Committee. He is also an ALDE (Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe) Council Member as well as a member of Liberal International’s Fair Trade Working Group He stood as a Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate in the 2015 UK General Election.
After 30 years service in the EU institutions, George retired in 2021 from the European External Action Service as its Strategic Adviser on Asia-Pacific Affairs. Previously he had served as Deputy EU Ambassador to Afghanistan and had led on EU-China affairs as well as having been Coordinator on EU-US trade relations at the European Commission. His diplomatic postings have included Afghanistan, Cyprus, New Zealand and the United Nations in New York. George started his career as a soldier in the British army.
George is a committed multilateralist. He supports increasing Europe's strategic autonomy as an independent player, in close alliance with like-minded partners, the safeguarding of Europe's liberal demo
Iain Smith was Member of the Scottish Parliament for North East Fife from1999- 2011, and spokesperson on Europe and External Affairs 2007-11. Prior to that he was Leader of teh Opposition on Fife Council, and Menzies Campbell MPs Constituency Organiser and Agent.
A regular delegate at ALDE Council and Congress since 2008, Iain was briefly Chief of Staff for Sheila Ritchie MEP 2019-20. He chaired the General Election campaigns in Scotland in 2001 and 2005. He has previously served on Federal and Scottish Conference Committees. Iain is a former Vice Chair ALDC and Convener North East Fife Local Party and member and a local campaigner since 1976. Iain retired in October 2021 after eight years as a policy officer with Inclusion Scotland, a Disabled People's Organisation.
Born in Hong Kong, Larry studied History (Bachelor and Master Degrees) in Chinese University of
Hong Kong, and moved to the UK on 2004. He worked in the financial sector since then and
specialised in insurance markets in APAC region.
Larry joined the party in 2019 after the Brexit referendum, and have been candidates in the 2018
and 2022 local elections. He is also a frequent contributor to Interlib, the magazine for Liberal
International British Group, and published several articles and book reviews on China and Hong Kong
He has been elected to be FIRC member on 2023, and was elected to be Vice chair of the China
subcommittee. He is also the chair of the Lib Dems Friends of Hong Kong, an associated organisation
within Liberal Democrats.
Joyce Onstad was previously a Vice-Chair for the Federal Board and is now represents them on FIRC. She has a background in International Development, having worked for ActionAid, Christian Aid, UNDP and was a trustee of Themba HIV Trust.
She is passionate about value-based governance, protection of human rights and promoting diversity & inclusion. Joyce, who has an MSc in Urban Development Planning from the Bartlett School at UCL, was the parliamentary candidate for Hammersmith in 2017.
Mark Johnston has been an experienced EU policy professional for over two decades.
Active in the Party since 2016, he aims to help Lib Dems win power at all levels, and for the country to recover and restore all we have lost outside Europe.
Baroness Smith of Newnham was made a Liberal Democrat Life Peer in 2014. She first got involved in politics at the age of 12, campaigning for Shirley Williams at the historic Crosby by-election. Julie went on to become a City Councillor for Newnham ward in Cambridge (2003-15) and held Executive Councillor responsibilities.
An academic specialising in European politics and the history of the European Union, Dr Smith taught at the Central European University in Budapest, before becoming a lecturer at the University of Cambridge. She also headed the European Programme at Chatham House, 1999-2003.
Julie has served on various policy working groups for the Party, including those on Liberal Democracy, Better Governance, Defence and Europe. She has also served on the Council of the European Liberal party, ELDR.
Having joined the Liberal Democrats in 2018, Sean has since taken on roles across the party, serving in positions at local, regional, state, and federal levels. He enjoys dual citizenship in both the UK and Germany and studied International Relations and Politics at the University of East Anglia, specialising in EU and European affairs.
In addition to his role as English Party Rep to FIRC, Sean also currently serves as co-international officer of the Young Liberals, regularly leading delegations to LYMEC congresses, as well as sitting as a regional representative on LDEG.
Having worked as managing editor of Katoikos, a Brussels-based publication by the Foundation for Global Governance and Sustainability, Sean is now in the process of becoming an approved Liberal Democrat PPC whilst maintaining a career in corporate content writing and management.
Jane has over twenty years’ experience working in the international NGO sector in Scotland. Currently she is the Director of a small Scottish charity working with war-affected children and young people in Bosnia; southern Turkey (with Syrian refugees); northern Syria; and Gaza. Jane has previously worked for Scotland’s International Development Alliance; L’Arche Internationale; and Mercy Corps Europe.
She studied Philosophy, Politics and Economics at undergraduate level and has Masters Degrees from the University of Edinburgh in International & European Politics and in African Studies. Prior to joining Mercy Corps she worked for the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations and was the first Director of the Scottish Community Foundation, now Foundation Scotland.
Jane is a Board member of Signpost International; 500 miles; and the Ombetja Yehinga Organistion (Scotland). She is also a fellow of the Royal Society of the Arts.
Baroness Randerson was made a life peer in 2011. This was following 12 years as the Lib Dem Welsh Assembly Member for Cardiff Central, during which she was Minister for Culture, Sport and the Welsh Language (2000-03) in the Lib Dem / Labour Partnership Government and also Acting Deputy First Minister for a year. Jenny was the first Lib Dem woman to hold ministerial rank in the UK.
The second Welsh Assembly saw spokespersonships covering Health, Social Services and Local Government, Equal Opportunities, Education and the Economy as well as chairing the Assembly’s Business and Legislation Committees. Before her election to the Welsh Assembly, Jenny was a Cardiff Councillor (1983-2000), representing Cyncoed Ward, and Leader of the Opposition on the Council (1995-99).
She was the first Chair of the Welsh Liberal Democrats when the new Party was formed and a member of the Welsh Policy Committee over many years, as well as a member of the Federal Policy Committee. Jenny chaired the Welsh Campaigns Committee and directed the 2004 local elections and 2005 General Election in Wales.
In the Lords, Jenny was Party Whip until appointed Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Wales in 2012. Within the Wales Office, her portfolio includes health, education, equalities, culture, tourism and rural affairs. In 2015, she was appointed to the Liberal Democrat General Election Cabinet as the Party's spokesperson for Wales.
By profession Jenny was a Further Education lecturer in Economics & Business Studies. living in Cardiff for most of her life.
Kai is co-International Officer for the Young Liberals. He is currently a PhD student studying programming language theory at the St. Anne’s College, Oxford and was formerly president of the Oxford University Liberal Democrats. Prior to his role as International Officer, Kai served on the federal campaigns committee of the Young Liberals.
Dr Phillip Bennion is a former Lib Dem MEP, serving on the Foreign Affairs Committee and its Human Rights subcommittee. He was Convenor of Urgency Resolutions for the Renew Group until he left the European Parliament following Brexit in January 2020. Phillip was group spokesperson on South Asia and nominated Uyghur activist Ilham Tohti for the Sakharov Prize in 2019.
Phillip was elected to the Bureau of Liberal International as a Vice President at the Sofia Congress of 2022. He chaired the FIRC and led the Party’s delegations to LI and ALDE until January 2023. He remains a member of ALDE Council and currently chairs its policy working group on climate change.
Outside of political life he is a farmer with interests in renewables and is a former agricultural scientist.
Irina von Wiese was born in Germany, the daughter and granddaughter of Polish and Russian refugees. After completing her law studies in Cologne, Geneva and Munich, she obtained a scholarship to the Harvard Kennedy School where she gained a Masters in Public Administration. At the Kennedy School, Irina met Baroness Shirley Williams, then Professor of Politics at Harvard, who recommended her for an internship at the European Commission and later persuaded her to join the UK Liberal Democrats.
From 1997 to 2019, Irina lived and worked as a lawyer in private and public sector positions in London. During this time, she volunteered for human rights organisations, advising on migration policy and hosting refugees in her home for many years. Having joined the Lib Dems in 1998, Irina stood in several local and regional elections and in 2018 became the parliamentary candidate for Hammersmith.
In 2019, Irina was elected to represent London Lib Dem in the European Parliament. She served as Vice-Chair of the Human Rights Subcommittee and as a member of the cross-party Working Group on Responsible Business Conduct. The Group's main achievement was the introduction of EU legislation to make human rights due diligence mandatory in global supply chains. Whilst MEP, she was also elected to the Executive Committee of the European Endowment for Democracy, whose task it is to support grassroots civil society initiatives in fragile democracies.
Having lost her seat in the European Parliament after the UK's withdrawal from the European Union, Irina returned to the UK, where she was elected to Southwark Council, currently serving as Vice-Chair of its Overview and Scrunity Committee.
Since 2021, she has been a member of FIRC and Chair of LIBG. Irina's links to Brussels are maintained through an advisory role at FGS Global, where she works on EU law and ESG issues. Irina is also an Affiliate Professor at European Business School; the ESCP; teaching international law and politics; and Honorary President of the European Centre for Populism Studies.
Robert is Chair of LDEG and a former Chair of Liberal Democrats in Europe. He was a European Parliamentary candidate on the FDP (German liberal party) list in 2014 and 2019.
Married with two children, Robert works as an intellectual property consultant and attorney in Paris, Munich and London. He believes passionately in “Making Europe Great Again.”
Audrey Eager originally hails from Dublin where she has a family background in politics. She
previously worked for Fianna Fáil in multiple roles from Press Office Administrator to Assistant to
several Senators. She chaired the London branch of Fianna Fáil from 2015 until 2020, acting as
spokesperson in public facing events in the Irish community in London.
Audrey joined the Liberal Democrats in 2015 and began working with Catherine Bearder MEP on the
Brexit Referendum in 2018. In 2018, she moved across to the Federal Party to become the General
Election Planning Manager. Some of her achievements included organizing anti-Brexit marches and
advising senior leadership on Anglo-Irish affairs. She attended several ALDE Congresses and
represented the Liberal Democrat Chief Executive at meetings of ALDE Secretary-Generals.
She studied European Business and Languages (French and German) at the National College of
Ireland before studying International Relations at a postgraduate level in Dublin City University.
Recently, Audrey returned to education and completed a MA in Media, Campaigning and Social
Change at the University of Westminster.
Audrey is a committed internationalist believing internationalism intersects with many issues from
climate change to the protection of human rights. She also believes that the world order as we have
known it since the Second World War is under threat and the values that underpin liberal
democracies need reinforcing both domestically and internationally.
Hussain is an international and EU lawyer specialised in commercial dispute resolution, and international business and trade. He has worked with leading law firms, as well as the European Investment Bank and the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. Currently he is Chief of Staff and senior advisor for a Renew Europe MEP at the European Parliament.
Myles has spent the bulk of his career working in the FCO and Department for International Development, with a strong focus on Africa, including postings in East Africa and as British Ambassador to Ethiopia, Djibouti and the African Union. He was, from early 2004 to late 2005, Head of Secretariat to the Commission for Africa (CfA). The Commission’s Report ‘Our Common Interest’ formed the basis of the G8 Gleneagles Communique on Africa in 2005.
Myles has served on many civil society and charity Boards in recent years. He is Visiting Professor (International Relations) at King’s College London and Honorary Associate Professor at the Strategy and Security Institute, University of Exeter. He has written extensively on Africa and development. His book ‘Aid and Development: A Brief Introduction’ was published by OUP in June 2015. He is Chair of Lib Dems in International Development.
Myles has degrees from the Universities of St Andrews (MA First Class Honours) and Oxford (M.Litt), and has been awarded Honorary Doctorates by Leeds Beckett University, the University of Ulster and the Open University (where he was also a Visiting Professor) in recognition of his work on Africa and development. In the New Year’s Honours 2006 he was appointed CBE and in the Queen’s Birthday Honours 2021 he was appointed KCMG.
Dr. Mark Pack is the Party's President and an author with books including: 101 Ways To Win An Election and Bad News: what the headlines don’t tell us.
Mark worked for the Liberal Democrats 2000-2009, including a period as Head of Innovations. In 2015 he wrote with David Howarth a seminal pamphlet on the Party’s strategy: The 20% Strategy: building a core vote for the Liberal Democrats.
Outside the Liberal Democrats, he has worked in IT in both the public and private sectors and between 2009 and 2019 was a Communications & Crisis Consultant. He's also been a Visiting Lecturer at City University in the Journalism Department.
To contact Mark or to invite him to a Liberal Democrat event, please see here.
When appointed to the House of Lords in 1996, John Alderdice was one of its youngest ever life appointees. Since then, he has served as an active Liberal Democrat member.
Lord Alderdice was Leader of Northern Ireland's Alliance Party (1987-98) and one of the negotiators of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement. He was then the first Speaker of the new Northern Ireland Assembly until 2004 when he was appointed one of four international commissioners charged with overseeing security normalization in Ireland.
John was President of Liberal International (LI) (2005-2009) and is now a Presidente D’Honneur and active on the LI Bureau. From 2010 to 2014, he was Chair of the Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Party in the House of Lords during the Conservative/Liberal Coalition Government.
From 2013 to 2022, John was the Director of the Centre for the Resolution of Intractable Conflict (CRIC) at Oxford. He is currently the Director of The Changing Character of War Centre at Pembroke College, University of Oxford and a Founding Chairman of The Concord Foundation.
He has retired from NHS clinical work as a psychiatrist but in addition to his work at Pembroke College, John is a Senior Research Fellow at Harris Manchester College, Oxford, and a Professor of Practice at the University of Wales Trinity St David.
Lecturing, writing, and consulting on the psychology of fundamentalism, radicalization & terrorism, John has been recognized with many national and international prizes, honorary degrees, and fellowships for his contributions in the field, including the 2022 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Royal College of Psychiatrists.
Baroness Sal Brinton is an elected Vice President of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats in Europe (2019-present).
She was Health spokeswoman in the Lords from Dec 2019-Dec2022, and President of the Lib Dems 2015-2019. She is a former Vice Chair of both FPC and FCC, and was a parliamentary candidate in Watford in 2005 and 2010. She joined the Lords in 2011.