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(Geneva, 13 and 16 October 2014)
1. Election of the President of the IPU
Following two rounds of voting by secret ballot, the Governing Council elected Mr. Saber Chowdhury (Bangladesh) as IPU President for a three-year term ending in October 2017.
2. Membership and Permanent Observers of the IPU
At its sitting on 13 October, the Governing Council approved requests for reaffiliation from the National Assemblies of Madagascar and Guinea, thus bringing the overall membership of the IPU to 166 national parliaments.
The Council also approved a request for Permanent Observer status from the Parliamentary Assembly of the Union for the Mediterranean (PA-UfM).
It took note of the fact that the Executive Committee had reviewed the situation of observers based on an analysis of their actual participation in IPU Assemblies over the previous four years. It approved a set of recommendations by the Executive Committee made in the light of that analysis.
More specifically, the Council approved a revised list of Permanent Observers that would be invited automatically to all IPU Assemblies. That list would be amended in the future only when and if necessary. The revised list did not include a number of organizations previously invited as observers that had not attended IPU Assemblies or engaged in any substantive dialogue or cooperation with the IPU for four or more consecutive years.
With regard to observers to be invited on a one-off basis in the light of Assembly agenda items, the Council decided that relevant invitations would be issued at the discretion of the IPU President, who would inform the Executive Committee accordingly. Regional intergovernmental organizations could be invited by the Council on an ad hoc basis, for example during the second Assembly of the year held in Geneva. The Council approved a number of related amendments to the text of the Practical modalities of the rights and responsibilities of observers at IPU meetings.
Lastly, the Council endorsed the recommendation that the IPU should facilitate regular interaction with parliamentary organizations, assemblies and networks represented at IPU Assemblies, with a view to discussing issues of common interest, including cooperation with the United Nations. Such informal meetings should be integrated into the work programme of IPU Assemblies as a permanent feature having no financial implications for the Organization.
3. Financial situation of the IPU
The Governing Council received a comprehensive report on the financial situation of the IPU and an updated list of unpaid contributions. As at 14 October 2014, no Member had arrears of more than two full years and none was therefore subject to suspension, voting sanctions or reduced delegation size. The total amount of contributions in arrears was substantially reduced as compared with previous years.
The Council noted that the income and expenditure of the IPU were close to target for the first six months of 2014 and were expected to remain within the overall budget for the rest of the year. The first Assembly of 2014, the largest expense of the year to date, had been completed on budget.
Whereas voluntary funding totalling CHF 1.5 million was anticipated for 2014, the actual amount received had reached CHF 2 million by mid-year, with additional voluntary contributions being expected.
4. Programme and budget for 2015
The Council received the consolidated budget proposal for 2015. Reporting on behalf of the Executive Committee, the Chairperson of the Sub-Committee on Finance, Ms. S. Ataullahjan (Canada), stated that the Sub-Committee had provided guidance and oversight to the Secretariat during the preparation of the budget. The Secretary General provided additional explanations of the budget. The format of the budget document had been modernized and brought in line with the IPU Strategy for 2012–2017. Additional information on the programme and budget could be found in the summarized logical framework contained in Section 5.
The budget had been prepared with a 3.4 per cent decrease in the level of assessed contributions at a time of continuing economic hardship for many Members. Despite that reduction in contributions, it included funding for additional activities requested by the Governing Council, namely: strengthening of the four Standing Committees, the Fourth World Conference of Speakers of Parliament in 2015 and additional support for the Committee on Middle East Questions. Without the Speakers’ Conference, the reduction in contributions would have been 6 per cent.
To avoid cutting IPU programmes and activities during preparations for the implementation of the post-2015 development agenda, voluntary funding from external donors would be substantially increased, compensating for the reduction in Members’ contributions. The Organization’s budgeted income from voluntary funding for 2015 amounted to CHF 3.5 million, over 22 per cent of the total consolidated budget. That included generous multi-year grants from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), the United Arab Emirates and Worldwide Support for Development (WSD). All Members were encouraged to make further efforts to promote resource mobilization for the IPU and its activities.
The Governing Council approved the consolidated 2015 budget of CHF 15,488,600. The approved budget and scale of contributions for 2015 may be found here.
5. Cooperation with the United Nations system
The Council took note of the activities undertaken in cooperation with the United Nations system since the 130th IPU Assembly. The Secretary General underscored the significance of UN General Assembly Resolution 68/272 on Interaction between the United Nations, national parliaments and the Inter-Parliamentary Union, which had been adopted with broad support in May 2014. The resolution welcomed inter alia the convening of the Fourth World Conference of Speakers of Parliaments at UN Headquarters in 2015, as part of the series of high-level meetings leading up to the UN Summit on the post-2015 development agenda.
The Council was also informed of the consultations on a new cooperation agreement between the United Nations and the IPU and the preparations for the annual Parliamentary Hearing at the United Nations (19-20 November), which would focus in 2014 on ensuring a people-centred approach to the new SDGs. As part of its work to follow and inform global processes, the IPU was involved in shaping parliamentary input to, and holding parliamentary meetings on the occasion of, two important conferences to be held in December: the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Lima, Peru (COP20/CMP10) and the Vienna Conference on the Humanitarian Consequences of Nuclear Weapons.
6. Implementation of the IPU Strategy 2012-2017
In the context of discussions on the implementation of Strategic Objective 1, Strengthen democracy through parliaments, the Council approved the text of the Common Principles for Support to Parliament. Prepared through a process of broad consultation with IPU partners and Member Parliaments, the Common Principles were designed to improve the relevance, sensitivity and effectiveness of the support offered to parliaments and ensure that the roles and responsibilities of all actors were transparent, mutually agreed and complementary. The Council invited IPU Member Parliaments to consider endorsing the Common Principles at the national level. A formal ceremony to publicly endorse and launch the Common Principles would take place at the 132nd IPU Assembly in Hanoi.
The Council took note of updates regarding implementation of Strategic Objective 2, Advance gender equality, and Strategic Objective 3, Protect and promote human rights. It also took note of information concerning the IPU's engagement in the UN-led consultations on the new set of SDGs. The Organization's work in that field fell within the remit of its Strategic Objective 5, Build parliamentary support for international development goals. The IPU had launched a campaign to press for the inclusion of democratic governance as one of the new SDGs.
As part of its discussion on the implementation of Strategic Objective 2, the Governing Council saw the launch of a new publication entitled Atlas of Gender Quotas. The fruit of collaboration between the IPU, the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International IDEA) and Stockholm University, the Atlas presented an overview of trends and challenges in the implementation of quotas and included profiles of 85 countries and territories with a detailed description of their respective quota systems.
7. Recent specialized meetings
The Governing Council took note of the results of the International Parliamentary Conference on Parliaments and the rights of indigenous peoples, the Parliamentary meeting on the occasion of the High-Level Meeting of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation, the World e-Parliament Conference 2014, the event to commemorate the 125th anniversary of the IPU, the Regional follow-up seminar on The role of parliamentarians in the implementation of Universal Periodic Review recommendations, the Parliamentary meeting at the 20th International AIDS Conference, the Review of the draft Common Principles for Parliamentary Development, the Ninth Meeting of Women Speakers of Parliament, the Regional seminar for Asia-Pacific Parliaments on Ending the cycle of violence against girls in Asia-Pacific, the Seminar for African parliaments on Translating international human rights commitments into national realities: The contribution of parliaments to the work of the United Nations Human Rights Council, and the First IPU Global Conference of Young Parliamentarians, on Taking Democracy to Task.
8. Reports of plenary bodies and specialized committees
At its sitting on 16 October, the Governing Council took note of the reports on the activities of the Meeting of Women Parliamentarians, the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians , the Committee on Middle East Questions, the Committee to Promote Respect for International Humanitarian Law, the Gender Partnership Group and the Forum of Young Parliamentarians of the IPU.
The Council also endorsed 15 decisions taken by the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians.
9. 125th anniversary of the IPU
The Governing Council was informed of initiatives taken by the IPU to commemorate its 125th anniversary, on 30 June, which in reality was being marked by a year-long programme of events and activities. The IPU was capitalizing on that landmark anniversary not only to showcase some of its achievements over the past 125 years, but also to discuss contemporary challenges to democracy.
On 30 June, the IPU Executive Committee had convened in an extraordinary session, issuing a statement to commemorate the anniversary, and the United Nations Office at Geneva had hosted an interactive session entitled Driving democratic change – IPU at 125 and beyond. The IPU had published a colourful illustrated booklet to highlight its 125 years of democratic struggle for peace, organized an exhibition in one of the most emblematic places along the lakeside in Geneva, Quai Wilson, and made arrangements for all the public transport buses and trams in and around Geneva to carry a short promotional spot on the IPU during the two-week period around the dates of the 131st Assembly.
10. Future inter-parliamentary meetings
The Governing Council confirmed the decision to hold the 132nd IPU Assembly in Hanoi (Viet Nam), from 28 March to 1 April 2015. Those dates had been selected specifically so as not to clash with any major religious holidays.
In view of the expected discussion and adoption of a resolution on the item Cyber warfare – A serious threat to peace and global security, to be addressed as part of the agenda of the 132nd Assembly, the Council decided to invite the ITU as an observer on a one-off basis.
The Council took note of the fact that the Congress of the Republic of Colombia had expressed an interest in hosting the 133rd IPU Assembly in Cartagena de Indias, in October 2015. Holding a generally favourable opinion in this regard, the Council resolved to make its final decision contingent on two conditions. The first was the findings of an on-site visit by the IPU Secretariat to ascertain the availability of relevant facilities and infrastructure on the proposed Assembly site. The second was confirmation by the prospective host that all additional expenditures resulting from the transfer of the Assembly from Geneva to Cartagena – including staff travel and subsistence allowance costs – would be borne by it.
The Governing Council authorized the Executive Committee to give the provisional green light, should the said conditions be met, to allow the Colombian authorities to start planning for the event. The formal decision would be taken in Hanoi during the 132nd Assembly.
The Council approved the list of future meetings and other activities to be funded by the IPU’s regular budget and by external sources. Following the adoption of the list, a delegate of Japan took the floor to underscore the importance of the 2015 Global Meeting of Young Parliamentarians, to be held in Tokyo in May-June.
11. Tribute to the outgoing IPU President
Ms. N. Motsamai (Lesotho), speaking on behalf of the Executive Committee, paid tribute to the outgoing President, Mr. A. Radi. She was followed by representatives of the six Geopolitical Groups of the IPU, who praised Mr. Radi's long political career nationally and internationally, including as the Speaker of the House of Representatives of Morocco. His long-standing public service had been appropriately recognized by His Majesty the King of Morocco, Mohammed VI, who had bestowed upon him the nation’s highest order. It was during Mr. Radi's term of office as the IPU President that the Organization had adopted its Strategy for 2012–2017, implemented structural reforms and established the Forum of Young Parliamentarians of the IPU.
The Secretary General, speaking on behalf of the Secretariat, also paid tribute to President Radi for his leadership and said that he and his colleagues had been privileged to work with him.
Having expressed its deep gratitude to President Radi for his unwavering devotion to the cause of the Organization, the Governing Council made him an Honorary President of the IPU.