MPs Urge Placing Development at the Heart of the Multilateral Trading System
6 DECEMBER 2013
Some 270 MPs from 53 countries gathered in Bali (Indonesia) for the Parliamentary Conference on the WTO. ©Indonesian Parliament
MPs from around the world urged governments to place development at the heart of the multilateral trading system, taking into full account the special needs and interests of developing counties, particularly the least developed. Meeting in Bali (Indonesia) on 2 and 5 December for the Parliamentary Conference on the World Trade Organization (PCWTO), some 270 MPs agreed that the last-minute negotiations at the Ninth WTO Ministerial Conference (MC9) also in Bali, must bring a tangible benefit for developing countries, increase their share of world trade, stimulate their economic growth and contribute to the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). In an outcome document approved by consensus at the final plenary of the Conference, parliamentarians called on Ministers to adopt the “Bali package” - an agreement to simplify trade facilitation, agriculture trade and development trade issues affecting least developed countries. It would, MPs argue, bring significant economic benefits to all WTO members. MPs also expressed their concern about the increasing number of regional and bilateral agreements signed in the past decade as a result of the WTO Doha Round stalemate and reiterated the importance of a bigger say of parliaments in trade negotiations to enhance transparency and public support for a rules-based, open, fair and non-discriminatory system. MC9, which ends today, 6 December, is aimed at breaking the deadlock on Doha. The Round was launched in 2001 to produce a global accord on opening markets and removing trade barriers. The Parliamentary Conference, jointly organized by IPU and the European Parliament (EP), took place on the sidelines of MC9.
Political Parties - Allies or Foes on Gender Sensitive Parliaments?
29 NOVEMBER 2013
MP Eva Abdulla provides input on role of political parties at the IPU event during the Women in Parliament meeting. ©IPU/Z. Hilal
Women MPs have urged political parties to commit to gender equality as an inherent political objective and assume their role as key entry points to women’s political participation at an IPU-organized event during the Women in Parliaments Global Forum (WIP) in Brussels on 27-29 November. Entitled “Gender-sensitive Parliaments: Are political parties allies or foes?” the event examined the significant impact political parties have on gender-sensitive policy-making, including women’s access to political participation. It also emphasized the usefulness and success of women’s parliamentary caucuses in establishing cross-party cooperation on advancing gender equality. The event was an opportunity to present IPU’s survey on Gender-Sensitive Parliaments, as well as its recently published “Guidelines for Women´s Caucuses”. The WIP Forum, like IPU’s Meeting of Women Parliamentarians, brought together women MPs from around the world.
Celebrating 120 Years of Women’s Suffrage
29 NOVEMBER 2013
Women in New Zealand playing a role in the 1913 elections. ©Weekly Press 17 December 1913 (NZ)
Twenty-eighth November 2013 marked the 120th anniversary of women’s suffrage in New Zealand, the first country in the world to give women the vote. A historic milestone highlighting the progress made on gender equality since 1893, the anniversary nevertheless underscored how much still needed doing to achieve gender equality in all spheres of life. Although gender discrimination on suffrage will come to an end with women in Saudi Arabia due to vote for the first time in local elections in 2015, women’s representation in parliament is far from matching progress on universal suffrage. Women represent more than half of the world’s population, but represent just 21.4 per cent of all parliamentarians in the world.
Burundi’s Parliament to Set Up HIV/AIDS Network
29 NOVEMBER 2013
Thabitha Khumalo, MP Zimbabwe, with children from an area heavily affected by HIV. ©IPU/A. Blagojevic
Burundi’s parliament will announce on 1 December (World AIDS Day) the creation of a Parliamentary Network on HIV/AIDS aimed at increasing MPs’ involvement in the national response to the pandemic. The constitution of the Network will be supported by IPU’s Advisory Group on HIV/AIDS and MPs from other countries, who participated in a capacity building seminar for Burundi parliamentarians on 18-19 November, followed by a field visit to country on 20-22 November. They agreed to assist by sharing their experiences, as well as by helping to draft an action plan focused on mobilizing domestic resources (Burundi’s AIDS response is 97 per cent aid dependent). Building on IPU’s guide “Raising the Profile on HIV and AIDS in Your Parliament”, the Advisory Group also offered to share its experience establishing AIDS trusts and AIDS levy systems. HIV prevalence in Burundi is estimated at 1.3 per cent of the population aged between 15-49, according to UNAIDS.
Ongoing IPU Support to Enhance Functioning of Myanmar’s Parliament
29 NOVEMBER 2013
Internet research among the issues during an ICT training for the Myanmar parliament. ©Ross Becker
As Myanmar continues its progress on democracy, IPU is cementing its support to the Hluttaw (national parliament) through a series of activities intended at improving information and research needs of MPs and promoting ICT and managerial capacities. With an external evaluation of IPU’s project in Myanmar just started, another mission is currently in the country working to enhance the parliament’s network and data center capabilities. In mid-December the first in a series of Management & Leadership Training Courses will be carried out to increase parliamentary institutional capacity to implement relevant organizational, administrative and procedural measures. Myanmar’s parliament was re-established following national elections in 2010. Since then it has been very active in adopting new laws to consolidate the country’s political transition.
Tackling Violence against Women Fundamental to Equality and Development
22 NOVEMBER 2013
One in three women throughout the world experience physical or sexual violence. ©: Reuters/Sebastien Pirlet
Ending violence against women (VAW) should be a key priority of any development objective to create a more gender equal world, says IPU as the UN-led process to establish the next generation of development goals gathers pace. With one in three women throughout the world experiencing physical or sexual violence, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), VAW is an issue affecting every country in the world and one which is limiting women’s development everywhere. Marking International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on 25th November, IPU argues that progress on future global development will be partly measured by success on achieving gender equality, which itself is not possible as long as a woman’s right to a life free from violence is not guaranteed. In turn, IPU is urging its own members to take firm action to end violence against women through swift and effective legal reforms and strong parliamentary oversight to ensure implementation. Although two thirds of countries today have legislation criminalizing domestic violence and have also taken steps to address sexual harassment, all countries should have legislation penalizing all forms of VAW. This not only includes rape and sexual assault but also female infanticide in the preference for boys, child marriage, genital mutilation, acid face-burning, “honour” killings and other forms of feminicide. In recent years, IPU has mobilized the parliamentary community on this issue. This year, a presidential statement was unanimously endorsed by IPU members at its 128th Assembly in Quito in March 2013 with women speakers of parliament similarly highlighting VAW as a priority issue at their annual meeting in New York in mid-November.
Kenyan Parliament Commits to Action on Improving Maternal and Child Health
22 NOVEMBER 2013
Maternal and under-5 mortality remain high in Kenya. ©: Reuters/Radu Sigheti
Kenyan MPs have committed to a range of urgent actions aimed at improving reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health (RMNCH) in a country where maternal and infant mortality rates are high. At a meeting in Nairobi on 19 November supported by IPU, parliamentarians agreed on the need to build and enable a protective legislative framework with appropriate financing that addresses this issue effectively and ensures its thorough implementation. Amongst the most urgent actions are working to push the national health budget up to 15 per cent of the State budget, finalizing a bill on maternal health and working towards developing a common legal instrument ensuring universal health care. They also agreed to convene a discussion on the HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control Act of 2006 and the impact of criminalizing the transmission of HIV on sexual and reproductive rights. MPs identified a series of pressing challenges relating to maternal and child health, including contradictions in legislation, labour-related laws with negative health implications, a lack of clear definition on the sexual and reproductive health rights of women and girls in certain situations as well as inadequate legal planning, budgeting, monitoring and evaluation. Maternal mortality remains high in Kenya at 360 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births, while the under-5 mortality rate was at 73 deaths per 1,000 live births, according to the UN.
Questions Remain on Murder of Russian MP Galina Starovoitova 15 Years On
20 NOVEMBER 2013
Galina Starovoitova, MP and human rights activist, was shot dead in St Petersburg on 20th November 1998
Fifteen years after the assassination of Russian MP and human rights activist Galina Starovoitova, those who masterminded her death are yet to be brought to justice. Starovoitova was shot to death in the lobby of her apartment in St. Petersburg on 20th November 1998. Four men have been serving jail sentences since 2005 as perpetrators and accomplices in the murder with progress on identifying those actually behind the killing remaining slow. However, with the recent indictment of former MP MikhaiI Gluschenko as the man who organized Starovoitova’s murder, IPU trusts the Russian authorities will keep moving forward to finally resolve the case The Organization hopes the proceedings against Gluschenko, a businessman involved in large-scale criminal activities and sentenced in March to eight years in jail for extortion in another and unrelated case, will shed full light on the killing of Starovoitova. Her assassination was “politically motivated”, according to the St. Petersburg City Court that sentenced two men, intelligence officer Yuri Kolchin and Vitali Akishin, to 20 and 23.5 years in prison for pulling the trigger. Two other were found guilty of complicity, while three other suspects remain on the run. The court ascertained the murder had been committed by an organized group with the aim of halting Starovoitova's political activities. Considered as one of the symbols of Perestroika and the democratic movement, Starovoitova was co-chairwoman of the political party “Democratic Russia” and a well-known reformist politician and ethnic minority’s rights activist. She had denounced the existence of high-profile political corruption in St. Petersburg. Shortly before her death, she said that she was aware of the names of local politicians receiving bribes from the mafia and that she knew about the selling of a city council seat to a criminal group. IPU’s Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians, which has been following the case, will resume its examination at its next session on 13-17 January 2014 in Geneva in a bid to push for more information to be brought to light.
UN Stresses MPs’ Critical Role in Development at Annual Parliamentary Hearing
18 NOVEMBER 2013
Jointly organized by UN and IPU, the Annual Parliamentary Hearing held in New York highlighted the crucial role of MPs pushing forward the future development agenda ©IPU/F. Puchol
Parliaments can and should play a central role in shaping and implementing the new development agenda after 2015, when the current Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) expire. In a message to MPs attending the joint IPU-UN Annual Parliamentary Hearing in New York on 14-15 November, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said IPU and parliaments were critical in “helping us reach MDG3, including the target to increase the proportion of seats held by women in national parliaments. Parliaments can bring the views and aspirations of their citizens into global deliberations. They are uniquely placed to ensure financing for sustainable development efforts.” MPs and IPU are now actively engaged in the UN-coordinated international effort to formulate the development agenda beyond 2015. During the two-day event, MPs underlined the need for a global strategy focused at national and international levels on poverty eradication, gender equality, democratic governance and a stronger legislative role in the global decision making process. With a holistic and integrated approach in mind, MPs supported a new development model grounded in human well-being, and not only on GDP growth. With a strong emphasis on fighting violence against women, they also highlighted the need to consolidate gender equality not only as a new development challenge in itself, but as a dimension underpinning every single goal of a future development agenda.
Women Speakers Put Gender Equality at Heart of Sustainable Development
15 NOVEMBER 2013
Speaker Gabriela Montano (Bolivia) at the 8th IPU Women Speakers of Parliament in New York. ©IPU/F. Puchol
Women Speakers of Parliament have stressed the need to put gender equality at the heart of new development goals that will replace the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in 2015. At the eighth annual gathering of the world’s most senior women parliamentarians, the IPU Women Speakers of Parliament Meeting agreed that not only should there be a stand-alone goal on gender equality in any new development agenda, but that it should be a comprehensive objective underpinning all other spheres including economic growth, environment, employment, health and education. The meeting, which concluded on 13th November, underlined parliament’s active role in the new development challenge if goals were to be effectively implemented. The women Speakers invited MPs to rethink and revisit current economic models and paradigms, forging a new development path centred on human well-being and not just GDP growth. In a dynamic and constructive discussion that would continue into the Annual Parliamentary Hearing at the United Nations jointly organized by IPU and the UN, the women Speakers agreed to continue meeting on an annual basis and praised IPU’s collective efforts to organize a forum where women MPs can have a space of their own to exchange experiences and support one another. The 2014 IPU Women Speakers of Parliament meeting is due to be held in Ecuador, which hosted the 128th IPU Assembly in March 2013
Improving Development Assistance to Parliaments
15 NOVEMBER 2013
IPU’s assistance to Myanmar Parliament has been developed together with authorities and other partners, including UN. ©IPU/N. Babic
Work has begun on developing a common set of principles to guide how development aid to national parliaments is provided in a bid to make such assistance more effective and coordinated. More than 30 representatives from parliaments and organizations working in the field agreed on the development of the principles with IPU coordinating the effort. The work is expected to be completed by mid-2014. At a recent meeting at IPU’s headquarters in Geneva, participants from parliaments, UN agencies, training institutes, the Association of Secretaries General of Parliament, donors and others agreed the principles would be available for endorsement by not only those providing assistance, but also donors and parliaments. The meeting also agreed to renew coordination efforts to establish common standards and criteria for democratic parliaments. These would also be endorsable by both relevant organizations, parliaments and others. The Geneva event similarly served as a useful opportunity for participants to provide feedback on IPU’s work on developing indicators to measure how parliaments are delivering on being accessible, accountable, effective, representative and transparent.
New Guidelines to Help Women MPs Caucuses
15 NOVEMBER 2013
New IPU guidelines on setting up a caucus for women MPs or in strengthening an existing one will be officially presented at two events in Washington D. C., USA that will focus on the role and impact of such groups. The “Guidelines for Women’s Caucuses”, provides a rationale for why women’s caucuses are useful as well as practical information on the four necessary steps required in setting up and running one. The guidelines are to be used in conjunction with IPU’s soon-to-be active online database on existing women MPs caucuses, which also gives comparative information on their structure, composition, agenda and rules. More than 80 women MP caucuses have been set up in the past 20 years around the world. In an environment still dominated by men, women MPs, accounting for only 21.4 per cent of all parliamentarians, face particular expectations and challenges in their work. Setting up a caucus is one thing, making it work is another. Women MPs from countries such as Afghanistan, Brazil, Namibia and Finland will share their experiences with other parliamentarians and members of caucuses, including the US Congressional Caucus on Women’s issues on 19th November. A similar event organized with USAID, which supported the development of the guidelines, will be held the day before.
Cote d’Ivoire MPs Create Women’s Caucus
15 NOVEMBER 2013
Ground-breaking move in Côte d’Ivoire as women MPs establish the first ever women’s caucus in parliament. ©IPU/Ivoirian Parliament
Cote d’Ivoire has launched the first-ever Women’s Caucus in the National Assembly, a forum aimed at advancing women’s rights and mainstreaming gender throughout all parliamentary work. Inspired by IPU’s new guidelines on women’s caucuses, the group, representing all political parties, will work to draft new laws on gender equality and to review discriminatory legislation. It will also promote the participation of women in all parliamentary decision-making levels and will be responsible for improving gender-sensitive infrastructure and culture, as well as ensuring that efforts towards gender equality are shared by both male and female parliamentarians. The Women’s Caucus also aims to be at the heart of the national reconciliation process after the post-electoral crisis in 2010 that resulted in a brief but bloody civil war that killed 3,000 people. IPU, which sent a first team of experts to Cote d’Ivoire in June 2013, has already supported similar initiatives in post-conflict countries, including Burundi and Rwanda, where women’s representation in parliament has increased significantly in recent years. However, Cote d’Ivoire currently ranks 114th in IPU’s world ranking of women in parliament. Only 26 out of its 249 members (10.4 per cent) of the National Assembly are women.
West African Parliaments Commit to Breaking Circle of Conflict in Region
15 NOVEMBER 2013
West African MPs agree on their greater involvement in ending conflict in the region. ©IPU/I. Décarroux
West African MPs have committed to increasing parliamentary involvement and action in post-conflict situations in a bid to break the vicious circle of violence and instability that has plagued the region in recent years. At a recent regional conference in Abidjan jointly organized by the Cote d’Ivoire parliament and IPU, MPs from Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Mauritania, Senegal and Togo, the ECOWAS parliament and other participants pointed out recurrent issues such as weak governance, lack of leadership, corruption, poverty, unequal distribution of wealth, illiteracy, exclusion of minorities, and religious and ethnic discrimination as reasons behind the present situation. They called for a prominent legislative role in reconstruction and reconciliation in order to establish lasting peace. Parliaments have to be especially vigilant on areas such as the rule of law and human rights legislation whilst ensuring their own governance, accountability and transparency. MPs also emphasized the need to cut down the circulation of firearms and on the urgency of addressing the situation of hundreds of thousands of refugees and displaced people in the region.
IPU to Build Legislative Capacity in Burundi to Respond to HIV and AIDS
15 NOVEMBER 2013
MPs to assess access to care and treatment amongst other HIV-related issues in Burundi during a field visit. ©Reuters/Darrin Zammit Lupi
A field visit and a seminar by IPU’s Advisory Group on HIV/AIDS in Burundi will help strengthen MPs capacity to address issues linked to the epidemic at national level. Both parliamentarians and parliamentary staff will participate in the seminar on 18-19 November. It is aimed at increasing their understanding of populations most affected by HIV as well as enhancing prevention efforts and access to care for those affected through effective legislative action. Building on IPU’s guide “Raising the Profile on HIV and AIDS in Your Parliament”, MPs will focus on HIV treatment policies, getting to grips with the latest trends in research, intellectual property issues and regulatory frameworks governing the prices of medicines. IPU’s Advisory Group will then carry out a field visit between 20-22 November to examine parliament’s role in addressing the HIV epidemic. Legislation and its enforcement, discrimination, access to treatment, gender-based violence, and the situation of children, in particular orphans, will be some of the issues covered. HIV prevalence in Burundi is estimated at 1.3 per cent of the population aged between 15-49, according to UNAIDS. An assessment report following the field visit will include recommendations on response areas that require strengthening.
Pacific Island Parliaments Outline Regional Efforts for Democratic Development
15 NOVEMBER 2013
Pacific island MPs identify priority issues including gender equality to guide future action. ©IPU/B. Filion
MPs from 13 Pacific Island nations outlined a comprehensive set of issues that needed addressing to support democratic development in the region at a meeting in early November. Organized by IPU and the Australian and Tongan parliaments in Nuku’alofa, MPs highlighted a series of key points concerning their professional development, services for MPs, gender equality in parliament as well as greater regional and international engagement that would guide their future action. Tailoring development programmes to suit specific cultural contexts as well as individual skills needs, establishing codes of conduct to help fulfill MPs responsibilities as elected representatives as well as access to IT and support in ensuring greater channels of communication with constituents were just some of the action points listed in an outcomes statement. With the Pacific region having one of the lowest regional averages of women in parliament, MPs agreed on a wide range of actions that could be taken to tackle domestic violence, increase women’s political representation and citizen engagement in politics as well as to promote gender equality across society. The meeting, supported by IPU, UNDP, AusAID and the Centre for Democratic Institutions also underlined parliament’s importance in responding to a fast-changing regional environment facing pressing issues such as climate change, poor population health and a shortage of workforce skills.
Women Speakers of Parliament Focus on Gender Equality in Sustainable Development
31 October 2013
The annual IPU Women Speakers of Parliament will meet in New York on 12-13 November to mainstream gender equality into the post-2015 development agenda. ©REUTERS/Kim Kyung Hoon
How can women contribute to a new model of sustainable development? Should the demands for equal rights and opportunities go beyond the prevailing growth model? These are some of the questions the annual IPU Women Speakers of Parliament meeting will try to answer in New York on 12-13 November. The aim of the event is to highlight the gender dimension of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the new development framework that is to emerge in 2015 when the current Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) expire. This, the 8th such IPU annual meeting, is an opportunity to examine strategies on mainstreaming basic rights for women into all SDGs. Women represent more than half of the world’s population, but remain by far the most disadvantaged group in all spheres of life. In the political sphere, they represent just 21.4 per cent of all parliamentarians in the world, and just 14.7 per cent of all Speakers of parliament. The outcome of the meeting will not only follow the conclusions of IPU’s 128th Assembly in Quito earlier this year, but will also feed into the debate at the annual Parliamentary Hearing at the United Nations, jointly organized by IPU and the UN, which takes place immediately after.
Annual Parliamentary Hearing at UN to Push Forward on New Development Goals
31 October 2013
MPs from across the world will focus on ways to transform the global development agenda during the annual Parliamentary Hearing at the UN on 14-15 November. Jointly organized by IPU and the United Nations, the meeting which is expected to bring together more than 100 MPs including Speakers of Parliament, will build on key outcomes of IPU’s 128th Assembly in Quito earlier this year as well as on high level deliberations at the UN. Entitled “Re-thinking sustainable development: the quest for a `transformational’ global agenda in 2015”, the meeting, which immediately follows IPU’s Women Speakers of Parliament annual gathering, will focus on the need for new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to be anchored in an economic model grounded in human well-being as the real purpose of sustainable development.
MPs Discuss Leveraging Private Resources for Development
31 October 2013
Lack of standarized labour laws is behind tragedies like the collapse of the Rana Plaza building in Bangladesh, that killed nearly 500 textile workers. ©REUTERS/Andrew Biraj
Ahead of the meeting in New York, the UN Development Cooperation Forum organized last week (24-25 October) in Montreux, Switzerland, a High Level Symposium on the reconfiguration of development cooperation in the post-2015 era, with the participation of IPU and a group of MPs from both developed and developing countries. A key question in the discussion was how development cooperation can help leverage the additional domestic and international resources needed to achieve poverty eradication and sustainable development for all. MPs stressed the need to agree on rules for the private sector, in particular for transnational corporations, to operate in a pro-development way - for example, by paying a fair share of taxes to the host country or by agreeing to standard-raising environmental and labor laws. Private flows must also be carefully aligned with the national development plan, but more importantly, MPs said, public aid investment should focus on governance institutions to help generate more resources from the private sector. MPs noted parliaments are by far the most important accountability mechanism to ensure that both public and private development flows are geared to development results – yet they are at the lowest end of public support for capacity building.
Pacific Parliaments Aim to Enhance their Role on Regional and Gender Issues
31 October 2013
Parliament of Tonga ©Parliament of Tonga
MPs from Pacific nations will be looking at how they can represent their constituents more effectively and how to play a greater role in solving key regional issues when they meet during the annual IPU regional gathering in early November. This includes issues such as the management and protection of oceans. Hosted by the Tongan parliament and supported by its Australian counterpart and IPU, the meeting will bring together MPs from two thirds of Pacific islands parliaments and New Zealand for the fourth time since 2010. The two-day meeting on 7-8 November will also examine the specific services MPs in the Pacific region need to carry out their work. With some of the lowest figures on women’s representation in parliament, the event will also be an opportunity to look at issues such as gender equality legislation in the Pacific and strategies to make parliament a more positive workplace.
Kenyan MPs Strengthen Knowledge to Advance Maternal and Child Health
31 October 2013
Kenyan MPs will have an opportunity to strengthen their knowledge on maternal, newborn and child health through an IPU and Kenyan Parliament training on the issue. Building on the just released IPU Handbook for Parliamentarians on Sustaining Parliamentary Action to Improve Maternal, Newborn and Child Health, the training on 8th November in Nairobi will provide practical information to help MPs better understand maternal and child health issues and how to deal with them effectively through legislation, its oversight and budget allocations. The training, which has also been carried out by IPU in the Ugandan parliament and the East African Legislative Assembly, is another IPU step in supporting its members to implement the landmark resolution on access to health for women and children at the 126th IPU Assembly in Kampala in 2012.
Treaty of Tlatelolco Wins Future Policy Award on Disarmament
31 October 2013
The “Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean” (Treaty of Tlatelolco) won the 2013 Future Policy Award for sustainable disarmament, beating 24 other nominated policies to the prize. The Gold Award, presented by the World Future Council, the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA) and IPU at a ceremony at the UN headquarters in New York, was given for the 1967 Treaty’s invaluable contribution to advancing regional peace and security as well as creating a precedent and inspiration for subsequent Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zones (NWFZ). The nuclear arms race and the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis had prompted Latin American governments to begin a process which would ensure that the region would never again become the scene of a nuclear conflict. These efforts culminated in the Treaty which established the first NWFZ in a highly populated area. Silver awards were granted to Argentina’s “National Programme for the Voluntary Surrender of Firearms” and New Zealand’s “Nuclear Free Zone, Arms Control, And Disarmament Act” whilst four additional disarmament policies from Belgium, Costa Rica, Mongolia and Mozambique/South Africa were recognised as Honourable Mentions.The Future Policy Award is unique in that it celebrates policies rather than people on an international level.
Latin American Parliaments Work to Improve Use of Social Media
31 October 2013
Latin American MPs met in Montevideo to find the best way to use social media in enhancing citizen participation in parliament’s legislative work. ©Parliament of Uruguay
Latin American MPs meeting in the Uruguayan capital, Montevideo in late October, identified the benefits of having a clear plan of action on ICT strategic planning and the use of social media in their work. The regional gathering was aimed at finding the best strategic approach to social media in enhancing citizen participation in parliament’s legislative work and to optimize the institution’s internal processes. ICT strategic planning and budgeting remains a big challenge for parliaments of Latin America with only 32 per cent of them having a written statement for ICT and 40 percent having a general strategic plan. However, 85 per cent of parliaments in the region are using some form of social media to communicate with citizens, exploring at the same time how to use them effectively. A resource to inform some of their discussions included IPU’s Social Media Guidelines for Parliaments which draw on lessons learned by parliaments to make more efficient use of social media in their work.
Parliaments’ Pivotal Role in Conflict Prevention and Management in West Africa
21 October 2013
Post-election violence in Côte d’Ivoire in 2010/2011 led to many being killed and displaced. REUTERS/Luc Gnago
A conference jointly organized by the Côte d’Ivoire parliament and IPU will help build and strengthen the ability of parliaments in West Africa to prevent and manage conflict in a region where armed conflict and socio-political instability is all too recurrent. Although various regional initiatives aimed at preventing conflict, and supporting peace and reconstruction in the region have been taken, crises persist within the ECOWAS area, necessitating a rethink of strategies. Given parliament’s pivotal role in ensuring effective and lasting solutions to conflict prevention and management, the conference on 28-30 October will, as a first measure, raise awareness among parliaments in the area on regional and international mechanisms for conflict prevention and management and on strengthening the rule of law. It will also provide an opportunity to strengthen MPs’ role in implementing UN Security Council Resolutions 1325 and 1820 on women, peace and security and ensure women’s involvement on the issue. In addition to drawing up guidelines on how MPs can be more involved on conflict prevention and resolution, the conference will lead to the drawing up of a regional roadmap on national parliamentary initiatives, particularly national action plans on implementing the two UN Security Council resolutions. As well as MPs from ECOWAS countries, the ECOWAS parliament, the Parliament of the Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa (CEMAC), the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) and the African Parliamentary Union (APU), participants will include representatives from the ECOWAS Commission, civil society and international organizations.
Protecting Freedom of Expression a Priority in Face of Rapid Technological Change
9 October 2013
© IPU/Giancarlo Fortunato
In the wake of global technological change, the international community has to prioritize action to protect basic human rights, particularly that of freedom of expression. In a resolution adopted in the case of Icelandic MP Birgitta Jónsdóttir, IPU members have underlined freedom of expression as being core to the work of any MP and to democracy. Jónsdóttir’s involvement in the production of a video released by Wikileaks led to the invasion of her digital privacy by US authorities and to legal proceedings in a US court which she subsequently lost. The IPU resolution expressed deep concern that the national and international legal framework concerning the use of electronic media, including social media, does not provide sufficient guarantees to ensure respect for freedom of expression, access to information and the right to privacy. It was also concerned that the parliamentary immunity Jónsdóttir enjoyed under Icelandic law was not applied, rendering void the ability of States to protect their parliamentarians when using social media to disclose information. The wider ramifications of this case need further global attention and action if fundamental challenges to human rights and democracy are to be addressed. The resolution was among a series of outcomes involving the human rights violations of 148 MPs in 17 countries from each region of the world adopted at the conclusion of IPU’s 129th Assembly in Geneva.
IPU Deplores Eritrean Government’s Contempt for the Fate of the G-11
9 October 2013
© IPU/Giancarlo Fortunato
IPU has deplored the Eritrean authorities’ contempt for the fate of the 11 Eritrean MPs detained without charges in September 2001 and never been seen since. Known as the G-11, they were arrested on unfounded allegations of conspiracy and attempting to overthrow the government after writing an open letter calling for democratic reform. The G-11 have been held incommunicado since then and their fate has been unknown in a country heavily criticized for its human rights. IPU is appalled by the continued silence of the Eritrean government which has refused to provide information to the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians. The Organization is deeply concerned over allegations that only two of the 11 MPs may still be alive. In an emotional address before the Assembly, Tsedal Yohannes, sister-in-law of one of the 11 MPs, Petros Solomon, urged the international community to put pressure on Eritrea to release the MPs and to no longer remain silent in the face of such violations.
IPU Condemns Cowardly and Reprehensible Terrorist Attack in Nairobi
9 October 2013
An injured woman is helped out of the Westgate Shopping Centre, in Nairobi, where terrorists killed 67 people and injured up to 200 others on 21 September. ©REUTERS/Siegfried Modola
MPs from 132 countries participating at the 129th IPU Assembly have condemned the recent terrorist act in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, which claimed the lives of 67 people and left 175 injured. In a statement on behalf of the membership, IPU President Abdelwahad Radi condemned terrorism in all its forms and expressed outrage “at such cowardly and reprehensible acts, which cannot be justified on any political, religious or ideological grounds.” Radi appealed to national parliaments to ensure that counter-terrorism laws are in place and enforced, and urged against impunity for perpetrators as it would only “beget further acts of terrorism.” The statement also expressed concern at the rise in terrorist acts that have plagued Kenya and East Africa and which continue to threaten the lives of innocent civilians.
Peace and Human Rights Take Centre Stage at 129th IPU Assembly
30 September 2013
IPU’s Assembly will examine parliament’s role in eliminating weapons of mass destruction. ©REUTERS/Stoyan Nenov
A jam-packed agenda at the 129th IPU Assembly in Geneva on 7-9 October will cover issues predominantly relating to peace and human rights around the world. Nearly 1,200 MPs, parliamentary staff, diplomats and representatives from international organizations from 125 countries will be attending the Assembly to tackle issues such as parliament’s role in making the world nuclear-weapon free and in implementing UN Security Council resolution 1540 on the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. The Assembly’s strong human rights focus includes how parliaments can better protect children's rights, including migrant children as well as those of vulnerable groups such as indigenous peoples and the disabled. Issues concerning internally displaced people will also be examined, whilst keynote speaker UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres will address the IPU membership on displacement crises. Human rights priorities and parliament’s role in upholding these rights will be highlighted by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay’s address to the IPU Assembly. Meanwhile, IPU’s Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians will carry out more than 10 hearings with countries and individuals on specific cases it is following with the IPU Council adopting a number of resolutions on the final Assembly day. Other issues include ways to make global development more risk resilient and political party control over MPs. Proposals so far for an emergency debate which would result in the adoption of a resolution include: Israeli settlements in Palestine hindering Middle East peace, IPU action to safeguard democracy in Haiti, the role of parliaments in addressing the deliberate destruction of the world’s cultural heritage and cyber warfare as a threat to global peace and security. As at recent Assemblies, there will be a Twitter event. Using #IPU129 you can follow and contribute to the discussions at the 129th Assembly. Plenary sessions of the Assembly will be webcast live on www.ipu.org Photos from the event will be hosted and downloadable for free use on www.ipu.org/129pics from 7th October.
Investigations into Mongolian MP Murder Fruitless 15 Years On
30 September 2013
Mongolian MP Zorig Sanjasuuren was brutally assassinated 15 years ago. ©IPU
IPU is urging Mongolian authorities to resolve the brutal assassination of Mongolian MP Zorig Sanjasuuren on the 15th anniversary of his death. Zorig was murdered late evening on 2 October 1998 as he returned home. Two attackers entered his apartment in the centre of Ulaanbaatar and tied up his companion in the bathroom. They waited for Zorig to come home and then repeatedly stabbed him to death. Regarded by many as the father of the democratic movement in Mongolia in the 1990s, Zorig, an MP and acting Minister of Infrastructure, had a reputation as an honest man with no business interests. IPU sources fear that as an outspoken politician, Zorig’s assassination may have been politically motivated. At the time of Zorig’s murder, Mongolia was enduring a period of political upheaval after the breakdown of the coalition government and negotiations were in place to select the next prime minister. There are conflicting reports that Zorig was being considered as a candidate for prime minister and even had a meeting with the country’s president about it on the day he was killed. Since a parliamentary report in July 2000 severely criticised the initial investigation into the murder, the Mongolian authorities have pursued their inquiries, which included seeking forensic assistance from abroad. However, no progress appears to have been made. IPU deeply regrets that 15 years on no light has been shed on those responsible for the crime and calls on Mongolian authorities to conduct inquiries with due thoroughness and diligence.
IPU Renews Calls for Democratic Governance Goal in Post-2015 Development Agenda
27 September 2013
MDGS: The United Nations is reviewing the progress of the Millennium Development Goals. ©UN Photo/Rick Bajornas
IPU has reiterated the need for a specific goal on democratic governance to be included in any post-2015 development agenda at a UN General Assembly special event on achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Whilst welcoming the inclusion of democratic governance as something to be promoted in an outcome declaration by Heads of State attending the event, IPU Secretary General Anders B. Johnsson urged States to be more ambitious. “To simply talk about governance as we did in the Millennium Declaration, as an enabler of development, while leaving it out of the MDGs will not do this time. Democratic governance ought to be a stand-alone goal with clear thematic targets and indicators to assess progress.” A clear commitment from all countries in the world was needed because democratic governance was an issue affecting them all, he added. The recognition of parliaments as a key stakeholder in defining and implementing the development agenda post-MDGs in the declaration was also welcomed by IPU, which believes parliament’s role in defining and overseeing national plans, approving budgets and adopting legislation is crucial to the success of future goals. However, adequate financing of the new sustainable development goals was also critical. Although the private sector will need to play a greater role in financing development, IPU is urging governments to reverse the current downward trend in the provision of overseas development aid which will be essential in helping developing countries.
Fate of 11 Eritrean MPs Still Major Concern 12 Years After Disappearance
18 September 2013
Aster Fissehatsion is the only woman out of the 11 detained MPs
IPU continues to demand information on the fate of 11 Eritrean MPs who were arrested 12 years ago and have never been seen since. The MPs have had no contact whatsoever with the outside world, including their families and lawyers, since they were detained on 18 September 2001. They were arrested on unfounded allegations of conspiracy and attempting to overthrow the government after writing an open letter criticising the Eritrean President, Isaias Afwerki, and calling for “peaceful and democratic dialogue and the rule of law”. The MPs, ten men and one woman, included the country’s Labour Minister Mahmoud Ahmed Sherifo; two former foreign ministers, Halle Woldetensae and Petros Solomon; and the former army chief, Ogbe Abraha. None of the MPs has ever been formally charged or brought to trial - a flagrant breach of the Eritrean Constitution as well as the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights. IPU believes the prolonged detention of the MPs without charge flies in the face of justice and human dignity. Despite persistent requests by IPU’s Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians, the Eritrean government has refused to provide information about any of the detained MPs or their future, and there are serious concerns for their health. In 2010, unconfirmed and unofficial reports from a former prison guard who had fled Eritrea, stated that nine of the 11 MPs had died, chiefly due to inhumane prison conditions and lack of medical attention. Prisoners in Eritrea are often held in underground cells or shipping containers which are unbearably hot by day and freezing at night. Since independence from Ethiopia in 1993, Eritrea has been led by President Afwerki under the People’s Front for Democracy and Justice (PFDJ). There have been no other parties or elections to the National Assembly.
China to Expand Collaboration with IPU
13 September 2013
China’s Speaker, Zhang Dejiang (second from the right) held talks with President Radi in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. ©IPU
China is committed to further cooperation with IPU, Speaker of the National People’s Congress (NPC) Zhang Dejiang told IPU President Abdelwahad Radi during his official visit to China in early September. Zhang also confirmed that he would attend IPU’s World Speakers Conference in 2015 and engage in preparations for the event. The IPU President was a guest of the Speaker on a highly productive, week-long official visit to China, which included meetings with the Deputy Speaker, members of the NPC and prominent legislators from the Shanxi and Guandong provinces. Recognizing IPU as an important platform to promote dialogue and cooperation amongst world parliaments, Zhang said the NPC would spare no effort in supporting the Organization's work as a means to support global peace and development. President Radi welcomed the statement. “China plays a key role on the global stage and a commitment to a new level of engagement with IPU and its work would have a major impact on efforts to resolve conflicts and build peace in the world. We look forward to Mr. Zhang’s presence at the World Speakers’ Conference in 2015.”
Unanswered Questions on Kurdish MP Assassination 20 Years On
4 September 2013
IPU is calling for further investigations into the murder of Turkish MP Mehmet Sinçar
Twenty years after the assassination of Turkish MP Mehmet Sinçar, IPU is renewing its calls on authorities for a full investigation into who
planned his murder. Sinçar was shot at close range by a group of masked men in Batman in south-east Turkey on 4th September 1993. He had gone to
attend the funeral of fellow Kurdish MP Habib Kiliç, also a member of the pro-Kurdish Democracy Party (DEP) murdered four days previously. As a member
of parliament’s Human Rights Commission, Sinçar was also on a fact-finding mission on the assassination of more than 50 members of the DEP and its predecessor,
the People's Labour Party.
He was among many Kurdish politicians from south-eastern Turkey who had received death threats against a background of intimidation, killings and
“disappearances” which coincided with a counter insurgency by government troops against Kurdish rebels in the early 1990s.
Turkey is home to around 14 million Kurds, who represent about 18 per cent of the population. Tens of thousands of people have died in the country as a
result of a three decade conflict with Kurdish militants fighting for independence.
In March 2010, two men were found guilty of a catalogue of murders in the Anatolia region of Turkey during the 1990s, including that of Sinçar. However,
Sinçar’s family have appealed against the verdict for failing to identify the people behind his murder or to determine the motive. Since Sinçar’s
assassination, IPU has continuously called on Turkish authorities to bring his murderers to justice and has supported his family’s appeal procedure against
In March 2012, new evidence came to light in the Susurluk Report compiled by a Turkish Government Chief Inspector. It identified individuals from the
Turkish Intelligence Service who had planned and executed Sinçar’s murder, one of whom said that he had a signed document authorizing him to commit the
crime. As the appeal process continues, IPU is reiterating its calls for authorities to ensure all those accountable for the murder are brought to justice.
China and IPU to Discuss Ways to Strengthen Relations
30 August 2013
Speaker Zhang Dejiang has invited IPU President Abdelwahad Radi on an official visit to China. © Office of the Prime Minister of Greece
IPU President Abdelwahad Radi will be discussing how the Organization can strengthen its relations with China and better integrate the Chinese Parliament
into IPU’s work during a week-long official visit to the Asian country. The visit from 1-7 September follows an invitation from the Speaker of the National
People’s Congress Zhang Dejiang, elected to the position during the renewal of the Chinese parliament in March 2013. The two men will hold talks during
President Radi’s stay. China, which has the largest parliament in the world, has been a member of IPU since 1984.
Parliaments Preparing for International Day of Democracy
30 August 2013
Parliaments are gearing up for this year’s International Day of Democracy. © IPU
Parliaments from across the world are planning activities to mark the sixth International Day of Democracy (IDD) on 15 September 2013. This year’s theme
“Strengthening Voices for Democracy” aims to promote freedom of expression and encourage people from all sectors of society to get involved in politics.
Over 90 parliaments have participated in this global event since it was proclaimed through a United Nations General Assembly resolution in 2007.
Activities include a week-long celebration of the IDD around the country by Sierra Leone’s National Commission for Democracy, which is also planning to
award institutions that stand-out in championing citizens’ views and opinions. In Uruguay, a parliamentary meeting on “Democracy and Participation”, will
focus on the political participation of women and young people, whilst Zambian students, school children and civil society groups will be given the chance
to talk to senior parliamentarians on radio shows aired across the country. In Australia and Germany, focus will be on campaigns aimed at inspiring people,
particularly the youth, to engage with democracy. Meanwhile, a debate between MPs, diplomats, academics and civil society on democratic values and human
rights is being organized by the Arab Parliament.
An IPU contest inviting people around the world to share their stories on how they are making their voices heard is also being held to mark IDD. The
winning entries will receive an Amazon Kindle loaded with e-books about democracy. For more details on the competition and other information on how to take
part in the International Day of Democracy, go to www.ipu.org/idd. Alternatively, find out more on social media, with
the twitter hashtag #DemocracyDay and the Facebook page www.facebook.com/internationaldayofdemocracy.
IPU to Support Bolivia and Peru in Modernizing Parliament
30 August 2013
Both Bolivia and Peru have a high indigenous population. © Wikimedia Commons/Tabea Huth
Bolivia and Peru are looking to IPU support on modernizing their parliaments following visits to the two countries by IPU Secretary General Anders B.
Johnsson in August. Although both parliaments have specific challenges to address, Bolivia is also contending with the implementation of a new constitution
which has implications for its legislative body. The IPU Secretary General’s visit to both countries was primarily aimed at strengthening ties between
these countries and IPU. Indigenous representation, an issue on which both countries have valuable experience and insight, was also a major feature of
discussions. As a result, plans were drawn up on a parliamentary conference on indigenous issues next year in Bolivia during meetings with Bolivian
President Evo Morales and the Speakers of both the Bolivian and Peruvian parliaments. The event would take place ahead of the World Conference on
Indigenous Peoples in September 2014.
Advocating Better Budgets for Women’s and Children’s health in Africa
30 August 2013
Kenyan Speaker, Ekwee Ethuro, welcomed over 50 participants to the regional workshop. © Family Care International - Kenya
MPs, civic groups and the media have been learning how to better influence government budgets to improve women’s and children’s health at a regional meet
in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi. The four-day programme concluding 30 August was organized by IPU and The Partnership for Maternal, New-born and Child
Health (PMNCH). Representing IPU, Kenyan Speaker of Parliament Ekwee Ethuro welcomed over 50 participants from Kenya, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Tanzania and
Uganda. The workshop is part of IPU’s programme of work to implement the landmark resolution adopted in April 2012 calling on parliaments to secure women’s
and children’s health as a basic right. Recognizing that a well-allocated budget is one of the most important ways parliaments can implement effective
policies, participants have been gaining skills in analysing national budgets for maternal, new-born and child health, as well as expenditure tracking,
costing budget plans and developing a strong advocacy strategy to affect policy change. Continuing its work in Kenya on the issue, IPU is also set to
provide an induction to the new parliament on women’s and children’s health.
Strengthening Ties with Bolivia and Peru
18 August 2013
IPU Secretary General Anders B. Johnsson © IPU
IPU Secretary General Anders B. Johnsson will be meeting leaders and parliamentary officials in Bolivia and Peru during a visit to the region on 19-24
August aimed at strengthening the two countries’ ties with IPU. In Bolivia, which marks the start of his visit, Johnsson will hold talks with President
Morales and the Speakers of both houses of parliament. In addition to discussing what support IPU can provide to the Bolivian parliament and ways to
increase Bolivia’s participation in IPU activities, the Secretary General will also look at how indigenous people participate in the country’s parliament.
The Organization is mapping their political representation in parliaments around the world ahead of the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples in September
2014. This issue will similarly feature during talks in Peru where the IPU Secretary General will similarly meet high-level officials. Making continued
progress on promoting the representation and participation of indigenous people in parliament, Peru like Bolivia, has valuable insights to make on the
subject. Johnsson will also offer IPU support in helping the Peruvian parliament carry out self-assessments on its gender-sensitivity and on the overall
running of parliament to enhance its effectiveness.
African and Asian MPs Commit to Greater Action on Maternal and Child Health
14 August 2013
MPs from nine countries will meet to improve maternal and child health © Wikimedia Commons/Tanvirul Islam
MPs from Bangladesh, India, Kenya, Malawi, Uganda and Zimbabwe have urged greater budgets be allocated to maternal and child health as part of a call for
their parliaments to be given more fiscal space on addressing the issue. About 30 MPs and parliamentary staff had attended an IPU-Bangladesh Parliament and
World Health Organization organized seminar in Dhaka at the end of July on making parliaments more accountable for women and children’s health. They
committed to being more proactive on the issue through advocacy and practical action. This included legislation ending harmful practices such as early
marriage and denial of sexual and reproductive health services, advocating for particularly vulnerable groups and representing the concerns of their
constituents more effectively. The MPs come from some of the countries with the highest maternal and child mortality rates in the world. Across the world
three women die every five minutes due to complications in pregnancy or childbirth. In the same time period, 70 children die, nearly 30 of them in the
first month of life. Almost all of these deaths can be prevented. At IPU’s 126th Assembly in Kampala in 2012, parliaments adopted a resolution to improve the well-being of women and children. The seminar is among the many follow-up
actions to support parliaments in achieving this.
IPU Trial Observation of Malaysian Opposition Leaders Underway
19 July 2013
IPU is monitoring the trial of Malaysian MP, Anwar Ibrahim © IPU
An IPU legal expert is observing trial and appeal proceedings for opposition leaders Karpal Singh and Anwar Ibrahim, accused of sedition and sodomy respectively.
The cases of both politicians are being followed by IPU’s Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians which works to defend and promote the rights of MPs.
Singh, the Chairman of the Democratic Action Party and an MP, was charged under the Sedition Act for allegedly uttering seditious words against a Malaysian Sultan in 2009. His case was dismissed by the High Court, a decision that was reversed by the Malaysian Court of Appeal.
The sedition trial against Karpal Singh, which began in 2012, has resumed for two days, 18-19th July.
Malaysian MP Anwar Ibrahim has already been acquitted once on charges of sodomy and is, on 22nd July, defending an appeal lodged by the Attorney General for him to be charged for a second time on the issue.
The IPU Human Rights Committee has repeatedly expressed concern over the series of charges brought against Anwar Ibrahim over the years and considers it would be in the public interest to discontinue Singh’s prosecution.
Appeal for Humanitarian Assistance to Syrian Refugees
12 July 2013
Food supplies being distributed at the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan © IPU
As humanitarian agencies struggle to support growing numbers of people fleeing the war in Syria, IPU is calling on Members to urgently use their
parliamentary powers to back fundraising efforts for Syrian refugees and the countries hosting them. The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) warns it
is rapidly running out of money to provide food for Syrian refugees, saying it needs US$ 26 million every week to support its operations inside and outside
Syria. The IPU appeal follows a mission last month to Jordan by IPU’s Committee to Promote Respect for International Humanitarian Law to examine first-hand
the situation of Syrian refugees in the country. Over 1.6 million Syrians, more than half of whom are children, have sought shelter and protection in
neighbouring countries. In visiting Syrian refugees in camps and urban areas in Jordan, members of the mission witnessed Jordan’s generosity in hosting the
refugees as well as the tremendous strain placed on the country, whose population has swelled by 6 per cent as a result of the influx. IPU is urging
parliaments to discuss and secure a financial contribution from governments to the United Nation’s 2.9 billion dollar Regional Response Plan (RRP5) to cover the needs of almost 3.5 million Syrian refugees expected by the end of
2013 and give badly-needed aid to the countries taking them in.
Pardon for Exiled Cambodian Opposition Leader Welcomed by IPU
12 July 2013
Cambodian opposition leader Sam Rainsy has received a royal pardon. © Reuters
IPU’s Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians has commended the royal pardon of Cambodian opposition leader, Sam Rainsy. The self-exiled
politician, who has been living in France, was sentenced in absentia to 12 years in prison on charges which were widely considered to be politically
motivated. He faced immediate arrest upon setting foot back in Cambodia after announcing in June that he would return home ahead of elections on 28 July.
IPU wrote to Cambodian authorities calling for a political solution which would allow Rainsy to return to the country to contribute to the political
process as a free man. “IPU greatly welcomes the royal pardon for Sam Rainsy,” said IPU’s Secretary General Anders B. Johnsson. “We hope that this will be
the first step in the national reconciliation process which will need to continue beyond Cambodian elections at the end of July.” Rainsy has been stripped
of his parliamentary seat and is banned from running for office.
Pakistan Parliament in Line for Third Phase of Technical Assistance
11 July 2013
Pakistan elections in May 2013 led to an historic transition of power. © REUTERS
IPU will be joining a UNDP-led mission to determine priorities for the next phase of parliamentary assistance to the parliament of Pakistan. In May 2013, general elections in Pakistan marked the first time since independence that a civilian government served its full term and was then succeeded by another democratically-elected civilian government. UNDP’s “Strengthening Democracy through Parliamentary Development” programme has been successfully providing technical support to the Pakistan Parliament for the past eight years. Now a team of experts will carry out a three-week project formulation mission to identify areas for further assistance, both at the federal level and in the four newly devolved provincial assemblies. IPU, in particular, will be designing project activities to improve information management systems, enhance parliamentary oversight of the budget process and boost the ability of parliamentary Committees to draft and implement legislation. The mission, running from 14 to 27 July, will develop a plan for parliamentary aid to cover the next four to five years.
Parliaments Best Able to Monitor Post-2015 Development Goals
5 July 2013
Belgian MP and IPU representative, Francois-Xavier De Donnea, at the ECOSOC meeting in Geneva. ©IPU
Parliaments are best placed to monitor the implementation of the post-2015 development commitments, said Francois-Xavier De Donnea, a panellist at a High Level meeting of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) in Geneva this week. Speaking on behalf of IPU, Belgian MP and Minister De Donnea said that whatever the Post-2015 development goals may be, parliaments play a pivotal role in holding governments to account and ensuring international commitments are carried out at national and regional level. The panel discussion, concerning ECOSOC’s contribution to the Post-2015 objectives, included participation by key figures involved in planning the United Nations Post-2105 agenda including Wu Hongbo, ECOSOC’s Under-Secretary General, UNDP Administrator Helen Clark and Amina Mohammed, Special Adviser to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon. De Donnea said failure in good governance is the biggest challenge to achieving development goals. He added that strong and efficient parliaments, which give a voice to the poorest and most marginal people in society, are the cornerstones of good governance. He said that work to strengthen national and regional parliaments must therefore be continued and built upon. In reference to IPU’s Quito Communiqué from the 128th Assembly in March this year, De Donnea called for democratic governance to be included as a stand-alone development goal and not just be mainstreamed into the next set of development goals. He also stressed that ECOSOC should further consult with parliaments through IPU to help fulfil development objectives.