Liberal Manifesto of Oxford (1947)

Liberal Manifesto of Oxford (1947)

Drawn up at the International Liberal Conference at Wadham College, Oxford,
in April, 1947

Liberal Manifesto of Oxford
We, Liberals of nineteen countries assembled at Oxford at a time of
disorder, poverty, famine and fear caused by two World Wars;
Convinced that this condition of the world is largely due to the abandonment
of liberal principles;

Affirm our faith in this Declaration:

1. Man is first and foremost a being endowed with the power of independent
thought and action, and with the ability to distinguish right from wrong.

2. Respect for the human person and for the family is the true basis
of society.

3. The State is only the instrument of the community; it should assume
no power which conflicts with the fundamental rights of the citizens and
with the conditions essential for a responsible and creative life, namely:

Personal freedom, guaranteed by the independence of the administration
of law and justice;

Freedom of worship and liberty of conscience;

Freedom of speech and of the press;

Freedom to associate or not to associate;

Free choice of occupation;

The opportunity of a full and varied education, according to ability
and irrespective of birth or means;

The right to private ownership of property and the right to embark on
individual enterprise;

Consumer’s free choice and the opportunity to reap the full benefit
of the productivity of the soil and the industry of man;

Security from the hazards of sickness, unemployment, disability and
old age;

Equality of rights between men and women.

4. These rights and conditions can be secured only by true democracy.
True democracy is inseparable from political liberty and is based on the
conscious, free and enlightened consent of the majority, expressed through
a free and secret ballot, with due respect for the liberties and opinions
of minorities.

1. The suppression of economic freedom must lead to the disappearance of
political freedom. We oppose such suppression, whether brought about by
State ownership or control or by private monopolies, cartels and trusts.
We admit State ownership only for those undertakings which are beyond the
scope of private enterprise or in which competition no longer plays its

2. The welfare of the community must prevail and must be safeguarded
from the abuse of power by sectional interests.

3. A continuous betterment of the conditions of employment, and of the
housing and environment of the workers is essential. The rights, duties
and interests of labour and capital are complementary; organised consultation
and collaboration between employers and employed is vital to the well-being
of industry.

Service is the necessary complement of freedom and every right involves
a corresponding duty. If free institutions are to work effectively, every
citizen must have a sense of moral responsibility towards his fellow men
and take an active part in the affairs of the community.

War can be abolished and world peace and economic prosperity restored only
if all nations fulfil the following conditions:

a) Loyal adherence to a world organisation of all nations, great and
small, under the same law and equity, and with power to enforce strict
observance of all international obligations freely entered into;

b) Respect for the right of every nation to enjoy the essential human

c) Respect for the language, faith, laws and customs of national minorities;

d) The free exchange of ideas, news, goods and services between nations,
as well as freedom of travel within and between all countries, unhampered
by censorship, protective trade barriers and exchange regulations;

e) The development of the backward areas of the world, with the collaboration
of their inhabitants, in their true interests and in the interests of the
world at large.

We call upon all men and women who are in general agreement with these
ideals and principles to join us in an endeavour to win their acceptance
throughout the world.

Liberal International

1 Whitehall Place

London SW1A 2HD

United Kingdom

Tel: +44.20.78395905

Fax: +44.20.79252685



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