Wednesday, 21 May 2008

Liberal International - impressions from the 55th Congress

My chief impression of Liberal International as I came away from its 55th Congress is of health and growth. The delegates comprised not only LI stalwarts from Europe and Canada, but also newer participants from Asia, South America, sub-Saharan Africa, North Africa, Egypt and the Middle East, including Israel - over 50 countries were represented, and they included French-speaking nations as well as British. We heard a speech in French from a liberal President of an African country: Senegal. We heard a speech in Chinese from a liberal President of Taiwan. There were thoughtful workshops on issues going beyond the core LI subject matter of civil liberties and market liberalisation, which indicates that liberal parties worldwide are widening the scope of their interests. The contribution of the UK delegation and European parties, particularly on policy, drafting and procedural matters, continues to be important but it was clear that parties from the developing world are participating actively by submitting resolutions, organising workshops and valuably networking with one another.

Those who had been involved in the organisation’s beginnings commented that its recent growth and spread were extremely encouraging and the result of tireless work by, in particular, the current President, Lord Alderdice. He passionately believes in the possibility of a better world through rejecting violence and instead respecting and finding common ground to work with those with whom one disagrees, and he has proved it can work. He has been re-elected to a well-deserved further presidential term.

The Congress's theme was "Our Shared Future". LI members can be confident that their own shared future will be of growth and success.

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