Global Affairs


Like thousands of people in this country and millions around the world, I took to the streets in February 2003 to March against the US-UK invasion of Iraq. The Liberal Democrats are the only party to have opposed the war from the start, joined only by few rebels from other parties. Since the last Government’s illegal invasion of Iraq the following month, 179 British servicemen and women and 100,000 Iraqi civilians have lost their lives. The war has cost the British tax payer £8billion.

After the secretive Butler and Hutton inquiries resulted in a whitewash the Liberal Democrats pressed for an open public inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the decision to go to war. The Labour government eventually set up the Chilcot enquiry, while ensuring that it would not report until long after the 2010 General Election. In the course of the inquiry it has become increasingly clear that not only the public, but also senior members of the government were seriously misled over the justifications for war. The inquiry should report its findings by the end of 2010.

For more information, updates and analysis of the Iraq war inquiry, please follow the link below.


Jo talking about Iraq in Parliament

Camp Ashraf (Geneva Convention), 25th March 2009

Christians in Iraq, 16th December 2008

Iraq Inquiry, 25th March 2008


The UK has had a military presence in Afghanistan since the US-led invasion in October 2001, and around 9,000 British troops are currently based in Helmand province in the south of the country. Although the Liberal Democrats believe that the deployment is in Britain’s security interests and is a tough but necessary mission, we the absence of any coherent international political strategy is putting our soldiers at unnecessary risk and prolonging the suffering of the people of Afghanistan. A clear military strategy and adequate resources are required so we can achieve the desired military and political objectives and work towards a regional peace settlement. Our strategy must focus on people and not just political leaders, and we must pay more attention to economic development as well as security.

Jo talking about Afghanistan in Parliament

Afghanistan and Pakistan, 5th February 2009



In the midst of globalisation Britain’s membership of the EU remains vital. Our country’s potential influence in the international arena is much greater when we lead in Europe. We must focus on issues such as tackling climate change, taking on cross border criminals and building economic prosperity for all Europeans. We are stronger together and weaker apart.

Jo talking about Europe in Parliament

European Commission Annual Policy Strategy, 2nd July 2009

European Affairs, 16th June 2009

European Affairs, 9th December 2008

European Affairs, 18th June 2008

Treaty of Lisbon, 27th Feb 2008

Western Balkans, 26th Feb 2008

European Union, 21st Jan 2008

External news stories on Europe

19/06/09 Tony Benn vs Jo Swinson on the EU

Trade Justice

Trade injustice plays a fundamental part in maintaining our unbalanced world economy. To reduce levels of poverty in developing countries it is essential that governments in developed countries such as our own trade on fair terms, respecting rather than exploiting poorer communities. The Liberal Democrats seek to remove the subsidies and tariff barriers that prevent the poorest countries in the world selling their goods on fair terms. Aside from government policy, local communities can also play an important role in promoting fair trade. I have been supporting local businesses who sell Fair Trade products in East Dunbartonshire (an area which thanks to its Fair Trade Movement has become an official ‘Fair Trade Zone’) and I hope that more local businesses will do the same. You can read more about this in the stories below.

Human Rights


As members of the international community it is important to respect human rights and uphold international human rights law. As Foreign Affairs Spokesperson for the Liberal Democrats I regularly spoke on issues of human rights effecting countries such as Iran, Iraq and Latin America in order to put pressure on the government to fulfil its obligations in the global arena. Here are some of my articles and speeches on related topics and below are links to relevant organisations that campaign on human rights.

Jo talking about Human Rights in Parliament

Colombia (Human Rights), 27th January 2010

Burma, 9th December 2009

Death Penalty (Global Abolition), 28th October 2009

Human Rights (Iran), 8th July 2009

Latin America, 3d March 2009

Promoting Democracy and Human Rights, 13th October 2008

External news stories on Human Rights

04/03/10 High level of baby birth defects in Iraqi city of Fallujah blamed on US forces’ use of controversial weapons (Daily Record)

22/02/10 Britain angers Kremlin over Chechnya visit (Telegraph)

18/02/10 British MPs ask Chechnya to solve rights murder (Reuters)

04/02/2010 Silence on British Army link to Colombian mass grave (Tribune)

01/04/09 Way paved for Red Crystal symbol

Nuclear Arms

The Liberal Democrats are firmly committed to the global elimination of nuclear weapons. We support the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) of 1970 and believe we must reduce our own nuclear stock pile. The Labour government, with the support of the Conservatives, took the decision to renew Britain’s archaic Cold War “Trident” nuclear weapons system at the cost of £100 billion to the British taxpayer. The Liberal Democrats oppose the replacement of Trident, and as part of the coalition government we have ensured that it will have to be scrutinised to ensure value for money before going ahead.

External news stories on Nuclear Arms

29/11/09 Revealed: how UK’s nuclear bombs are built by America

Jo’s other stories on global affairs

Jo talking about global affairs in Parliament

Cluster Munitions, 17th March 2010

Chagos Islands, 10th March 2010

Conflict Prevention, 9th February 2010

Colombia (Human Rights), 27th January 2010

China, 13th January 2010

Burma, 9th December 2009

Cyprus, 10th November 2009

Death Penalty (Global Abolition), 28th October 2009

China and the West, 13th October 2009

Israeli Settlements, 21st July 2009

Global Security (Iran), 9th July 2009

Middle East, 24th June 2009

Amendments of the United Nations Personnel Act 1997, 10th June 2009

India, 12th May 2009

Overseas Territories, 23th April 2009

Geneva Conventions and United Nations Personnel (Protocols) Bill, 1st April 2009

New Clause 15 – Advice on emissions from international aviation and international shipping, 28th October 2008

Belarus, 16th July 2008

Prevention and Suppression of Terrorism, 15th July 2008

Israel, 20th May 2008

Burma (Cyclone Nargis), 8th May 2008

Ukraine, 30th April 2008

Global Security (Russia), 3rd April 2008

Global Security (Middle East), 24th Jan 2008

Kenya, 17th Jan 2008

Pakistan (Terrorism), 16th January 2008

External news stories on Other Issues

23/04/09 ‘Name and shame’ tax havens under fire


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