Laura Borm

In this new year the Board met at Barcelona in preparation of several events that we are organizing this coming year. Margaret de Vos van Steenwijk-Groeneveld (President), Mireia Huerta Sala (Secretary), Lysbeth van Valkenburg-Lely (Treasurer), Marianne Kallen-Morren (Vice President), Ruth Richardson (Member) and Joaquima Alemany Roca (Past President) were present.

One of the decisions that the Board took was to appoint Vice President for MENA, Khadija El Morabit as Deputy President filling the vacancy of Hakima El Haiti who resigned on becoming Deputy President of LI. The Board decided to have the vacancy of Vice President for MENA filled by Mrs. Loubna Amhair until the next General Meeting.


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This year the ALDE party met at Amsterdam for its congress. The European Liberal Democratic family consists of more than 60-member parties

Hans van Baalen

across the continent and more than 50 members of the European Parliament who are part of the ALDE Group. Hans van Baalen MEP (Member of the VVD) has been president of the ALDE Party since 2015 and was re-elected during the congress.

During the afternoon VVD and D66 organized a debate on Fighting Populism.

In the discussion one of the elements was that many people have the feeling that politicians do not listen and don’t solve problems. Populists talk about fear, and often walk away from responsibilities but still they get voters all over Europe.

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INLW Board members Margaret de Vos van Steenwijk and Lysbeth van Valkenburg attended the 199th LI ExCom in Johannesburg.

This year the theme of this LI Executive Committee meeting was “Good Governance”. The theme was explored with discussions on “Results of Better governance on different fields of government” and the influence of that on Local and Global Challenges for the 21st Century.

Our host was the Democratic Alliance (DA) and they had taken upon them to produce a draft for a new Johannesburg Declaration. This declaration was discussed and adopted during the last session of the meeting.

The DA was founded in 2000 although its roots go back much longer. DA is supported by liberals to the right and left depending on the subject. DA is in power in 33 cities now, among them Cape town, Tshwane (Pretoria), Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Bay (Port Elizabeth) and Johannesburg. In 2018 there will be Presidential elections. President Jacob Zuma will have had two terms by then. DA leader Mmusi Maimane has started to present DA as an alternative for the ANC. In the beginning of 2018 Maimane will have to be re-elected and as such will be the DA candidate for President during the next elections, where he will hopefully be seen as an alternative for the ANC candidate.

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INLW will participate with a delegation at the next Commission on the Status of Women (62th CSW) at the United Nations in New York from 11th March till 23rd March 2018.

Members of INLW who would like to attend the CSW can approach the INLW President by email to discuss the possibilities. Please email to express your interest.

INLW submitted a resolution during this Committee Meeting:

“More Women in Local, Regional, National and International Policy Making for Good Governance Worldwide” which subsequently adopted by the meeting.

Noting that:

CALD Women’s Caucus Chair Ms. Jayanthi Balaguru on 12-08-17 in her closing speech of the Women’s Caucus of the Council of Asian Liberals and Democrats Conference called on CALD member-parties to ensure that a “Gender Equality Law” is passed in their respective countries.

At the Conference, Taiwan’s first female President Tsai Ing-wen said: “Taiwan’s journey toward women’s empowerment shows that promoting gender equality reinforces democratic and progressive values”. Former Vice-President Annette Lu who was characterized as “an indispensable driving force in Taiwan’s democratization”, said: “with feminism and soft power, women’s leadership can change the world for the better. Women shall be determined to lead their family, society and world towards a better future. Women shall make mission impossible into mission possible!”

Lu went on to say:

“It is time for the Feminization of power, where half or more of those involved in politics, economic and social development are women. We should learn and apply ‘Soft Power’, which is constructive and generous, to face the unprecedented and multiple challenges coming our way, instead of applying the ‘Hard Power’ traditionally used, which is destructive and exploitative by nature.”

“The 21st Century is the ‘She Century’, whereby the ‘Soft Power’ is used instead of or next to ‘Hard Power’.

And ‘She-Economy’ indicates Women are now making 85% of consumer choices and millions are entering the job market creating work and rising GDP’s.

And ‘She-Society’ should be Women taking an equal part in handling the crisis of war and terrorism, poverty and natural disasters.

Liberal International calls upon Member Parties and their Governments to:

 Implement equal rights for women and men in all political decisions.

Ensure women and men participate equally at all levels of peace processes, conflict prevention, conflict resolution and peace building in accordance with UNSC Resolution 1325.

Ensure women are involved in decisions on Environment and Ecology.

Recognize ‘Soft Power’ as a force to change the world and face the unprecedented, multiple challenges coming our way.

Educate women and men to apply the wisdom of ‘Soft Power’ including democracy, human rights, culture, love, peace, technological innovation, environmental protection and ecology.

integrate Gender equality in all  targets and apply Gender equality  in National, Regional and Local Agendas so that by increased Feminization and Soft Power, the ‘She-Century’ can lead to Good Governance and to a better world.


This resolution contributes to the discussion that was held at the Conference and which was concluded with the adoption of the “Johannesburg Declaration on better Governance”

With regards to:

  • the Andorra Manifesto 2017 of Liberal International
  • the resolution adopted at the 51st Congress in Budapest 2002: Good Governance – a liberal view
  • the relevant international Conventions on protection of human rights
  • the Principles relating to the Status of National Institutions ( The Paris Principles) adopted by the UN General Assembly in resolution 48/134 of 20.12.1993
  • the obligations of the Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs, binding every member state of the United Nations
  • the State of the Worlds’ Population 2018
  • the recent academic joint study of the UN and the World Bank; Pathways to Peace, Inclusive Approaches to preventing violent conflict


Emphasising that, in the Andorra Manifesto, we liberals commit ourselves to a vision of human progress in a free world where:

  • freedom of every human being is an essential principle in achieving human progress and a better world
  • institutions are democratic, accountable and capable, they can provide equal rights and freedoms for all, and human creativity can flourish and fuel human progress towards a peaceful, prosperous and open global society
  • improving health standards and providing access to health care for everybody must be an ambition and primary objective for all national governments and the international community.
  • providing a high-quality education to all irrespective of background is the best guarantor of equality of opportunity,


Thus, it is important for us to define how we can achieve the Better Governance we seek as a precondition for such an inclusive and sustainable society.

Noting however:

  • that more violent conflicts occur now than ever during the past 30 years, making societies vulnerable and thus creating big obstacles for achieving the SDGs and for human progres
  • that authoritarian rule is resurgent and, consequentially, fewer citizens can make free choices or realise their full potential
  • that clientelism has spread in many countries calling themselves democracies, which means that many citizens are deprived of opportunities
  • that millions of people have been lifted from poverty through globalisation, spreading of technology and more free trade, however in many societies the gap between rich and poor has widened


Basic Building Blocks for Better Governance:

  • Rule of law, democracy, promotion of an active civil society and respect for human rights, including equality of all citizens, are preconditions for Better Governance and combatting discrimination
  • Better governance also means that women and men have equal opportunities, including the right to ownership and entrepreneurship, that the needs of future generations are taken on board, that sustainable development is prioritised, and that degradation of the ecosystems is avoided


Rule of Law:

  • is a precondition for building trust in society, both among citizens and between citizens and the authorities at different levels
  • includes the notion that the laws of a country respect fundamental human rights
  • means that the authorities are equally bound by law as all other entities in the society – power can be exercised only when there is legal authority and in accordance with the way the law describes it
  • nobody is above the law and politicians are especially bound by these principles and are thus not allowed to distribute benefits or grant favour without legal authority
  • exists only when the independence of the judiciary and the separation of powers between the executive, the legislative and the judiciary are in place
  • includes access to justice for those who need, fair trials and not excessively lengthy procedures
  • is one of the best remedies against corruption and also a way of creating an investment friendly environment
  • the Aarhus convention of UNECE is a good example of the transparency needed in public decisions on environmental affairs as it stresses that citizens should have the right to get a wide and easy access to information on public projects relevant for the environment


Human Rights:

  • states must recognise and deliver on their commitments to international instruments and conventions on human rights; human rights must be given priority in national constitutions and legal systems
  • countries must accept the authority of international monitoring bodies and cooperate with the mechanisms they have signed up to
  • independent national human rights institutions, according to the so called Paris Principles, are important at implementing the obligations on human rights and giving priority to human rights education
  • the freedom of the freedom of association and assembly and the protection of human rights defenders must be given priority by countries who respect international norms and wish to promote the universal application of them
  • the freedom of the media, including the safety of journalists to carry out their work must be guaranteed
  • condemn all human rights abuses wherever they occur



Better governance or rule of law cannot exist without a functioning, liberal democracy that is able to defend itself. Preconditions for a true, inclusive democracy are among others:

  • freedom of speech, assembly and association
  • a free and fair competition between political parties, fair access to mass media
  • independent electoral commissions and the possibility to challenge their decisions in an effective way in Courts
  • political parties which have democratic procedures for decision making
  • transparency of financing of political parties and of electoral campaigns
  • an electoral system that does not lead to exclusion of groups in society and does not give excessive rights to stronger political parties
  • an independent and free civil society
  • strong civic education to equip civil society to better defend itself against fake news and cyber attacks

In a strong democracy, parliaments have effective control over government and have instruments to hold the executive accountable. Administrative resources are not used for political campaigning.

All countries must be open for international, independent and long-term monitoring of elections according to the best international standards.

When human rights are respected, a true democracy is in place and the rule of law is enshrined not only in law but in practice, good and better governance can prosper in the interest of the whole society, aiming at freeing the potential of all citizens and caring for the prosperity of future generations.

Better Administration – the opposite of maladministration:

  • In a well governed society the subsidiarity principle implies that decisions are made at an appropriate level and as close to the citizens as possible, meaning that the principle of decentralisation is working.
  • Transparent decision making, access to information and protection of whistle-blowers who reveal maladministration are necessary.  Access to information for all citizens and media on all phases of procurement processes, with the exception of business secrets, is  a very good way to combat corruption and nepotism. Removal of unnecessary red tape, for instance of diverse permits, helps in combatting corruption and maladministration.
  • Better governance means a public administration based on predictability and equal treatment. Clear and well defined rules outlining when conflicts of interest occur are needed, and in such situations decision-makers should avoid active involvement in public administration matters. Such rules should be widely published.
  • Efforts to make decisions of public bodies as understandable as possible for all citizens is both creating better administration and more democratic societies and will in save resources.
  • There should be a general obligation of public servants to give information when requested but also on their own initiative. The impetus should always be to inform the citizens if they have turned to the wrong authority.
  • When the public sector, and also Liberal parties, are employing people this should happen on merit; rules for avoiding cadre employment, nepotism and conflicts of interest should be applied.
  • When tasks are transferred to public companies the same principles of transparency should as far as possible be the rule.


Basic principles for financing of the public sector:

  • The state budget should contain diversified forms of income that are due to the state; including taxes, and non-tax sources ( royalties, licenses, levies or other income for example from natural resources owned by the state) and all kind of sales of common property.  Taxes and tariffs should have a basis in the legislation. Funds can be created under special circumstances.
  • Tax administrations should be strengthened to broaden the tax base where appropriate, close loopholes and to effectively address tax avoidance, tax evasion and illicit financial flows.
  • Parliaments must have oversight over the income that derives from international donors or development organisations, to ensure that these revenues and benefits are distributed according to objective criteria and not only to support the governing party/ parties.
  • When tasks are decentralised, it should be ensured that the new stakeholders have reasonable resources to care for these new tasks. Unfunded decentralisation is detrimental to public trust in democracy.
  • Governments cannot rely on future generations to pay for current expenditures and democracy should not be degraded via unaffordable debt-based public spending.
  • Good public expenditure management, improving the value for money, the transparency and accountability of public expenditure, increases the fiscal space and enables governments to provide better public goods and services. There is often need for a review of subsidy programmes that are ill-targeted and ineffective and distort the market, such as for example environmentally harmful fossil fuel subsidies, preventing renewable energy sources from becoming viable and competitive.


The Liberal International Human Rights Committee met inThe Hague during an event organized by the Thematic International Network of the VVD and INLW.







Chairman of Liberal International Human Rights Committee (LI HRC), Mr. Markus Loening gave us some up-dates and insight in the work of the Human Rights committee.



The next day President INLW Margaret de Vos took part in the LI HRC meeting at the VVD office. The importance was stressed of the role that the LI HRC can play if a party cannot speak out about a situation in their own country, then LI HRC might be able to speak out about the problem. LI will organize a parallel event at UN CSW 62 in New York together with INLW.


Then there was a panel discussion about “The Future of the International Liberal Order: How can we make international justice work?

Chair during the event was -Mr. Ilhan Kyuchyuk, Member of the European Parliament and ALDE Party Vice-President (MRF, Bulgaria)

Speakers were:

-Steven van Hoogstraten, CEO, Hague Institute for Global Justice

-Lousewies Van der Laan, Member of the European Parliament (1999-2003); Chief of Cabinet to the Presidency of the International Criminal Court (2009-2015) (Democrats 66, The Netherlands)

-Hon. Kiat Sitteeamorn, Secretary-General of the Council of Asian Liberals and Democrats


After the discussion we went to the Panorama Mesdag museum in The Hague where the LI Prize for Freedom was awarded. The prize was given to Ilham Tohti who is now imprisoned. Mr. Tohti has fought for democracy and Rule of law in China and the human rights of Ughurs. He campaigned for promoting conciliation between Ughurs and Han Chinese.
Ilham Tohti’s daughter, Jewher Ilham, spoke to us by video. She said that the award offers encouragement for human rights defenders in China amid increasing pressure on activists.

The Liberal Prize of freedom is Liberal International’s oldest award, it is presented annually to courageous human rights champions since 1985. Professor Ilham is the first-ever recipient of the LI Prize from mainland China.

Speeches were given by:

-Mr Hans van Baalen, Honary President of LI

-Mr. Markus Loening, LI HRC Chair and ALDE Party Vice-President

-Ms. Marie Holzman, Co-Founder of the Ilham Tohti Initiative Advancing and promoting international justice through LI Human Rights Committee

-Steven Mokgalapa, President of the Africa Liberal Network and Member of LI Human Rights Committee (Democratic Alliance, South Africa)

In the afternoon a visit was paid to the International Criminal Court where Judge Silvia Fernandez de Gurmendi, President of the International Criminal Court (Argentina)

received us and gave us her views on “Strengthening Global Justice and the Rule of Law: The International Criminal Court and Beyond”.


In the past INLW called upon the International Society to bring ex-President Laurent Gbagbo to Justice in The Hague at the then just founded ICC. This was after soldiers obeying the ex President’s call to keep him in power, had opened fire on a peaceful women’s march killing several women who were walking up front. INLW’s Vice President Kaba Fofana from Ivory Coast sent us a message about this. She said: “Tomorrow I will join in the march to lead my friends”. “Please tell the people if I don’t return, I did everything for the cause of Freedom, Democracy and Liberalism”. Thank goodness all went well the second day! It was interesting to see that the case against Mr Gbagbo is indeed still being continued. The many witnesses are still being heard at the ICC.


Margaret de Vos van Steenwijk           Lysbeth van Valkenburg-Lely

President of INLW                                             Treasurer INLW and president of INLW Nederland

As INLW President, Margaret de Vos van Steenwijk was invited to participate at the Conference held in the Shangri-La’s Far Eastern Plaza Hotel Taipei.

All participants at opening with President Tsai and Annette Lu












The Official opening was conducted on Friday morning by Taiwan’s President Ms. Tsai Ing-wen who is Taiwan’s First Female President. She said that since martial law was lifted in Taiwan 30 years ago women’s rights and women’s political participation have been fought for by a substantial portion of the Taiwanese people.  “Taiwan’s journey toward women’s empowerment has shown that promoting gender equality reinforces democratic and progressive values”. She described the former Vice President of Taiwan, Ms. Annette Lu, as being “an indispensable driving force in Taiwan’s democratization, which she paid for by 6 years imprisonment before martial law was ended”.

President of Taiwan Her Excellency Tsai Ing-wen














INLW President Margaret de Vos van Steenwijk


Margaret was invited to say some words of welcome. She stressed that INLW wants to empower women around the world by linking experiences and working together. INLW is stimulating the creation of INLW Chapters in Asia, whereby CALD Women’s Caucus can play the coordinating role. Such Chapters can play separate roles, like being a Liberal Women’s Think Tank or being a network to meet other women with experience as politicians or business women with the aim of empowering women and men for the good of all.  Her speech can be read here.

Chair of CALD Women’s Caucus Jayanthi Balaguru thanking former Vice President Taiwan Annette Lu

Annette Lu who was Taiwan’s first female Vice President from 2000 till 2008 is an INLW Patron and was the keynote speaker. She spoke of the “Perspective on She-Century and the beginning of She-Politics, She-Economy and She-Society”. In this 21st Century it is time for the feminization of power, she said and went on to explain that the most powerful leader in Europe and in fact now in the Free World is Angela Merkel! That’s the beginning of She-politics. But also, the beginning of She-economics as 85% of consumer choices are made by women! And soon 870 million women around the world will enter the job market. This will create work, start more businesses and the gender gap earnings will narrow down therefore. Women earning more will become good consumers and products will be designed and marketed more and more specifically for women or suiting women’s taste.

She felt that the fact that in Taiwan the two major parties have Chairwomen is a milestone for the feminist movement she launched 40 years ago in Taiwan. She continued to address the role of women as peacemakers and their so-called Soft Power approach.


Enthousiastic participants




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Chairperson of CALD Women’s Caucus Ms Jayanthi Balaguru, Dr. Lo Chih-cheng, Madam Maysing Yang, and distinguished women leaders, members of diplomatic community, ladies and gentlemen,

Good morning and welcome to Taiwan!

It is a great pleasure for Taiwan to host the CALD Women’s Caucus Conference today, especially because Taiwan, for the first time ever, is led by a lady President Dr. Tsai Ing-wen. Since its inauguration in 1993, CALD has become a unique platform for dialogue and cooperation of liberal and democratic political parties in Asia. Thank you for your efforts to enhance democracy and development.

It is also my pleasure to attend this significant conference to discuss the timely issues on women empowering women. As you may be aware of, I am the one who started to advocate feminism here in Taiwan 45 years ago.

Traditionally Taiwan’s women suffered from the double burden of Chinese Confucianism and Japanese male chauvinism. Under such culture, women were taught nothing else but to serve and to please men, making women the second sex.

In 1971, when I returned from my study in the United States, I found that the whole society was debating how to prevent young women from attending universities. It was argued that education for women is a waste, since women were expected to abandon their careers to take care of household after getting married. Under such an environment, I began to advocate feminism, criticizing male chauvinism and proposing new feminist doctrines. I wrote articles, made speeches, organized women and conducted a variety of activities.

Since 1949 till 1987, Taiwan had been ruled by Martial Law for 38 years under which not only was democracy suspended and civil society restricted, but serious human rights abuses frequently occurred. For six years I advocated feminism on the one hand and promoted human rights and democracy on the other, until being jailed on charge of sedition. One can imagine how tough and risky to launch such an anti-establishment campaign.

It was on December 10th, 1979, that the opposition held the International Human Rights Day rally in the city of Kaohsiung. Policemen and soldiers were ordered to release tear gas into the crowd, and gangsters were organized to attack the police in an attempt to implicate opposition leaders in the casualties caused.

I was so outraged that I stood on top of a truck and delivered a most provocative and touching speech for minutes. Tens of thousands of people in the audience were moved, some were even moved to tears. Three days later, I was the first one arrested followed by 151 others.

Eight of us leaders were tried by court martial and sentenced to 12 years in prison. No one would have expected that 20 years later, one of the defense lawyers from the trial would invite one of the eight “seditious elements” to be his running mate, and together they overturned 50 years of authoritarian one-party rule and became the president and vice president from the native opposition party. Continue reading