Liberals are committed to build and safeguard free, fair and open societies, in which they seek to balance the fundamental values of liberty, equality and community, and in which no-one is enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity. Liberalism champions the freedom, dignity and well-being of individuals. Liberalism acknowledge and respect the right to freedom of conscience and the right of everyone to develop their talents to the full. Liberalism aims to disperse power, to foster diversity and to nurture creativity. The freedom to be creative and innovative can only be sustained by a market economy, but it must be a market that offers people real choices. This means that Liberals want neither a market where freedom is limited by monopolies or an economy disassociated from the interests of the poor and of the community as a whole. Liberals are optimistic at heart and trust the people while recognising the need to be always vigilant of those in power.
Human rights are a core component of liberalism. We believe that these rights are a pre-condition for progress and stability and can only be secured by true democracy. Liberals recognise the essential need to promote political and civil rights and therefore oppose all forms of dictatorship. Education, the fulfilment of women’s rights and respect for the environment are essential. We campaign for respect for the rights of minority groups, which is in all our interests, since in one way or the other we are all minorities.
Liberals believe that the poverty of large parts of the world can be alleviated through freedom to travel and to trade and to this end are committed to the further opening of ‘western’ markets for products from the developing world. But a social market economy has to be accompanied by democratic institutions. Development finance can only help reduce poverty if the recipient government institutions adopt practices of good governance, including full trans-parency and accountability based on the rule of law. Without freedom, openness, political choice and autonomous institutions to enforce the provisions of the law, there is no hope of controlling corruption or creating development. That is why liberals emphasis that international development assistance should also focus on developing the political foundations.