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Message from Irina von Wiese, chair, LIBG

December 22, 2021 9:32 AM

Irian von Wiese ()

It is a great honour to be elected chair of the Liberal International British Group. Stepping into Adrian Hyyrylainen-Trett's shoes is not easy, and I owe him a huge 'thank you' for all his work as LIBG chair since July 2018.

So much has happened since, and Adrian steered this group through a perfect storm: Brexit, Covid, populist forces fed by increasingly sophisticated disinformation, and a dismal government descending into chaos and corruption.

LIBG is affiliated to Liberal International - the global federation of liberal parties.

Its aims are to keep liberal values - human rights, social justice, democracy and rule of law - alive in the face of adversity.

Working with like-minded parties across the globe, we want to keep Britain's pro-European, internationalist voice audible loud and clear across the globe. I am convinced that Britain still is the open, tolerant and welcoming society I encountered when I arrived in this country in 1996, and I will always fight to keep it that way.

My grandmother and father fled political persecution in Russia and Germany. As a lawyer and volunteer, I have sought to help refugees and migrants in the UK.

In 2019 I was incredibly honoured to be elected to the European Parliament and serve as vice-chair of the Human Rights Subcommittee.

Post-Brexit, I continue to work on human rights issues advising businesses on environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues. Modern slavery and forced labour, inhumane working conditions and child labour still lurk in forgotten corners of our cities and at the bottom of many company supply chains. Only in cooperation with our sister parties around the world can we tackle these problems.

I was also privileged to serve on the board of the European Endowment for Democracy, an EU organisation promoting liberal democracy in the 'eastern neighbourhood', North Africa, the Middle East and beyond. Civil society engagement plays a huge role in this endeavour, and LIBG supports sister parties who channel these efforts.

Finally, it is vital that we keep defending diversity, inclusion and intersectionality in Europe and beyond. Adrian's achievements in this respect, notably in support of LGBT+ communities in Poland and Hungary, but also in bringing together people from different backgrounds here in the UK, need no further explanation. Sadly, the situation in many countries makes this work more urgent than ever, and LIBG will continue to raise awareness and tackle these issues.

You can follow our work via this website, but also on social media @LibIntBg where we will be tweeting regularly on international issues, events, and meetings of informative discussion and debate.

Launch of Protect Our Twins campaign

Human rights are under threat in our twinned towns in Poland: across the UK it's time to help

We're asking local councils twinned with towns in Poland to start active diplomatic engagement to champion equality and human rights in the face of the "LGBT ideology free" zones Poland has created. Local communities in our twinned towns are now under threat, people are discriminated against, and human rights have been attacked.

  • More than 100 LGBT zones 'free of LGBT ideology' have been locally declared and more of these #HateZones are being lobbied for
  • Local councils in Poland decide this through local resolutions
  • UK has dozens of twinned town arrangements dating back decades
  • We have to look after the communities we're twinned with
  • It's time to #ProtectOurTwins

UK Lib Dems lead a cross-party initiative

The UK party has stepped forwards to lead a cross-party, coordinated response at local level. There are detailed draft motions and guidance for Councillors, templated letters to the Mayors of their twinned towns, and a 5 part approach.

These public letters will clarify whether the local resolutions are remaining in place, before the UK Council considers how to take forward any review of twinning relationships.

The Liberal Democrats value twinning relationships. The spirit of the campaign is focussed on education and preventing discrimination, with UK councils engaging in a period of education and discussion with their Polish twins.

The UK must take a stance: #ProtectOurTwins

"Events in Poland should concern the whole international community", explains campaign leader Layla Moran MP. "Labelling LGBT as an 'ideology' and supressing LGBT people is outrageous. Many of these towns are twinned with those here in the UK. We cannot stand by; we must Protect Our Twins, and the LGBT communities who live there."

Join the campaign

Adrian Hyyrylainen-Trett, thern chair of Liberal International British Group (LIBG), said: "We are holding out our hands in support and solidarity with our friends and fellow LGBT+ citizens in Poland whose rights are being negated by the creation of these 'hate zones' which goes against fundamental human rights, both in terms of UN and EU law. Enabling dialogue is key to sharing the recognised values 'Liberals' believe in, and by engaging in discussion at a local council level, as well as with our sister Liberal Party Nowoczesna, is the way to hopefully reverse these local resolutions and show our solidarity with the people of Poland."

Find out more about #ProtectOurTwins

Here's the full campaign site, with details of how to get press releases, letters, motions and support material.


Related Links

Recent updates

  • Document: Sep 7, 2021
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  • Document: Sep 7, 2021
  • Document: Sep 7, 2021
  • Document: Aug 20, 2021
  • Document: Jul 20, 2021
  • Document: Jun 7, 2021
  • Document: Apr 19, 2021
  • Document: Mar 19, 2021
  • Document: Mar 11, 2021
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    A campaign supported by the Liberal Democrats and LIBG is asking local councils twinned with towns in Poland to start active diplomatic engagement to champion equality and human rights in the face of the "LGBT ideology free" zones Poland has created. Local communities in our twinned towns are now under threat, people are discriminated against, and human rights have been attacked.

    Plase see attached document for details

  • Document: Feb 12, 2021
  • Document: Dec 8, 2020
  • Document: Nov 22, 2020
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    Joint event held by LIBG (Liberal International British Group) and Liberal Democrat Overseas (LDO) at 6.30pm (UK time) on Monday 7 December 2020.

    Chaired by George Cunningham (Chair of LDO)

    With guest speakers David O'Sullivan and Leslie Vinjamuri

    David O'Sullivan

    David O'Sullivan served as Ambassador of the European Union Delegation to the United States from November 2014 until February 2019.

    Prior to his appointment as Ambassador, he was the Chief Operating Officer of the EU's new diplomatic service, the 'European External Action Service'. He had previously held a number senior positions within the European Commission include Director General for Trade (2005-2010); Secretary General of the European Commission (2000-2005); and Chief of Staff to Commission President Romano Prodi (1999-2000). Before joining the Commission, he started his career with the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (1977-1979).

    He is a graduate of Trinity College, Dublin and the College of Europe (Bruges), and holds Honorary Doctorates from the Dublin Institute of Technology and Trinity College Dublin. He was awarded the EU Transatlantic Business Award by the American Chamber of Commerce in 2014. In November 2019, he joined the Brussels office of the law firm of Steptoe and Johnson LLP as a Senior Counsellor.

    Dr Leslie Vinjamuri

    Dr Leslie Vinjamuri is Director of the US and the Americas programme and Dean of the Queen Elizabeth II Academy for Leadership in International Affairs at Chatham House, The Royal Institute of International Affairs. She is a Reader (Associate Professor) in International Relations at SOAS University of London.

    At Chatham House, Leslie leads the Lloyd George Working Group on World Order (with Charles A. Kupchan), the Chatham House US 2020 Election Series, and the US-China and Transatlantic Relations Project (with Marianne Petsinger-Schneider). In her capacity as Dean, she oversees our fellowship programme and our Next Generation UK work. Leslie writes and speaks about America's role in the world, human rights and global governance.

    Her book, Human Rights Futures (edited with Jack Snyder and Stephen Hopgood) was published by Cambridge University Press in 2017. She has also published numerous articles in leading journals of international affairs and is a regular contributor to the international news media.
    Leslie is a Commissioner for the Marshall Aid Commemoration Commission, a Member of the Council on Foreign Relations, on the Board of Advisors of the Institute for Integrated Transitions, and on the Advisory Board of LSE IDEAS. From 2015-18, Leslie was a member of the Council (a 'trustee') of Chatham House, the Royal Institute of International Affairs.

    Previously, Leslie worked in the Asia and Near East Bureau at the US Agency for International Development, and for the Congressional Research Service. She was a fellow at Harvard University's John M Olin Institute for Strategic Studies and later on the faculty of Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service. From 2010-2018 she founded, and later was Director of the Centre on Conflict, Rights and Justice at SOAS University of London.

    Leslie has a BA from Wesleyan University (Phi Beta Kappa), an MSc (Distinction) from the London School of Economics, and a PhD from Columbia University.

    Chair: George Cunningham (LDO)

    George Cunningham is the Strategic Adviser on Asia-Pacific Affairs at the European External Action Service (EEAS) in Brussels, having just returned from Kabul where he had been Deputy EU Ambassador to Afghanistan (2016-18).

    He was previously EEAS Deputy Head of Division for China, Hong Kong, Macao,Taiwan and Mongolia (2012-16); Charg├ęd'Affaires a.i. of the European Union's Delegationto New Zealand (2007-12); Coordinator for bilateral trade relations with the United States at the European Commission's Directorate
    General for Trade (2005-07); Head of the Accession Process and Cooperation Section at the European Commission's Delegation in Nicosia (2003-05) when Cyprus joined the EU; and Head of Press and Public Affairs and Political Counsellor at the EC's Delegation to the United Nations in New York (2000-03) during 9/11.

    He has been working 25 years for the EU across all the main files, especially foreign and security policy, public diplomacy and trade. He has particular interest in promoting social justice, fighting corruption and security sector reform.

    Before joining the European Commission, George Cunningham served as a United Nations official in New York (1987-1990) and was also an advisor on European integration to the Polish Council of Ministers in Warsaw (1992).

    At the start of a busy and varied career, he served as an officer in the British Army, and worked in marketing for British Petroleum and British Telecom. He founded and ran a non-governmental organisation PACE International Affairs, educating young people in the UK about international relations. He is a graduate from Oxford University (MA Oxon Modern History).

    During his youth, he undertook a major expedition in Africa, with the backing of African Presidents, walking 9,000 kilometres on foot from Alexandria in Egypt to Cape Town in South Africa over a period of 27 months (1979-81).

    He is a member of Chatham House in London. His book - Journey to Become a Diplomat - was published in 2005 by the Foreign Policy Association of New York. He has enjoyed encouraging youth to get involved in international affairs by lecturing at universities and spoken numerous times at the European Parliament in his professional capacity. In 2019, he also trained Gulf Cooperation Council Diplomats in Riyadh in his private capacity.

    In his political life, he is Chair of Liberal Democrats Overseas, having been Chair (2016) and Vice-Chair (2015, 2017) of Brussels and Europe Lib Dems. He stood for parliament in the 2015 UK General Election and ran the Lib Dem campaign for Brits abroad to vote in the UK EU referendum. He was a foreign policy advisor to Jo Swinson when she was Deputy Lib Dem Leader.
    George Cunningham was born in 1956. He is an EU official with dual Polish and British Citizenship, married with two children.