A group of Green Party activists

Members of the Green Party of England and Wales have voted to abandon their longstanding position on NATO. Prior to the vote, the party’s policy stated that NATO is “not a sustainable mechanism for maintaining peace in the world”, and said that the Green Party “would take the UK out of NATO”.

The vote took place at the Greens’ spring conference. In a major about turn, the newly written policy now reads: “NATO has an important role in ensuring the ability of its member states to respond to threats to their security”. It goes on to call for NATO to guarantee a no first use policy on nuclear weapons, commit to upholding human rights in NATO’s actions and to act “solely in defence of member states”.

The change in the position on NATO was part of a wider rewrite of the party’s policies on peace, security and defence. By ditching their commitment to leaving NATO, the Greens in England and Wales now differ in their approach to the Greens in Scotland. The Scottish Green Party has retained its opposition to NATO, despite substantially revising its defence policies in recent years.

Following the passing of the motion, a Green Party spokesperson said: “Russia’s war on Ukraine has underscored the fears of other neighbours that their territorial integrity and independence is under threat. Conference showed the party’s commitment to international solidarity, where nations support one another through mutual defence alliances and multilateral security frameworks.

“Conference’s support for this motion does not mean a direct role for NATO in Ukraine. We do not support an escalation of the crisis there. But it does mean that NATO has an important role in ensuring the ability of its member states to respond to threats to their security.

“However, diplomacy and practical cooperation must always take precedence over military action. That is why we seek crucial reforms to the way NATO operates. Of course, as conference recognised today, other security arrangements may be considered should such reforms become unattainable.”

This article was jointly published with Left Foot Forward

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Image credit: Jon Craig – Creative Commons