As a party, the Liberal Democrats, and the Liberal Party before it, have always been very strong supporters of the United Nations. The 1951 Liberal Party manifesto (admittedly not one which met with unalloyed electoral acclaim) stated in a section entitled “World peace through law”:
We stand firmly, as we have always stood, behind Collective Security and the United Nations Organisation. We believe in the absolute necessity of maintaining the rule of law, and protecting British interests when necessary within the framework of international law.
It is with that history in mind that we can warmly welcome the passing of UN Security Council resolution 2249 proposed by France. You can read the full text here, but this is the main guts of the motion:
The Security Council…Calls upon Member States that have the capacity to do so to take all necessary measures, in compliance with international law, in particular with the United Nations Charter, as well as international human rights, refugee and humanitarian law, on the territory under the control of ISIL also known as Da’esh, in Syria and Iraq, to redouble and coordinate their efforts to prevent and suppress terrorist acts committed specifically by ISIL also known as Da’esh as well as ANF, and all other individuals, groups, undertakings, and entities associated with Al Qaeda, and other terrorist groups, as designated by the United Nations Security Council, and as may further be agreed by the International Syria Support Group (ISSG ) and endorsed by the UN Security Council, pursuant to the Statement of the International Syria Support Group (ISSG) of 14 November, and to eradicate the safe haven they have established over significant parts of Iraq and Syria;
It is a remarkable achievement, and perhaps a mark of the wide devastation spread by ISIL, that such a motion was passed. Getting the Russians and Chinese on board for such resolutions is always a major accomplishment.
It is very important that the UK acts carefully within the terms of this motion (and other related resolutions). We must not over-step the stated will of the UN and “take a punt” as we did in Iraq under Tony Blair.
The policy of “liberal intervention” has failed spectacularly in a whole list of places: Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya etc. We really must realise that it is just utterly stupid – S-T-U-P-I-D – to go round the world bombing places and then expecting democracy to pop up in the craters. We must reconcile ourselves to helping through humanitarian actions.
– But that does not preclude a whole range of clearly legal anti-terror actions which we can take shoulder-to-shoulder with the international law-abiding community.