Parliamentary leaders from nearly 140 countries have pledged to do their utmost to reconnect people with democracy in an ambitious and far-reaching declaration adopted at the end of a three-day global summit in New York.
More than 170 Speakers and Deputy Speakers of Parliament at the Fourth World Conference of Speakers of Parliament acknowledged that extraordinary efforts would be needed to build a world that people want by turning the tide against the many challenges that undermine democracy, peace and development.
“The world is at a crossroads. The enormity of the challenges that we and our planet face is daunting. We must have the resolve to overcome them. How political leaders respond to the crises that threaten us has perhaps never been as important to our future as now,” said IPU President Saber Chowdhury.
The world’s parliamentary leaders committed to bringing parliament closer to the people by tackling the growing public scepticism and disconnect with politics, social and political marginalization, gender inequality and an imbalanced power relationship with government.
They underlined the need for constitutional and institutional reforms in transition countries, social justice, good governance and the respect for human rights, including freedom of speech and assembly.
The Speakers also pledged to pursue efforts to make parliaments more representative, accountable and transparent. Although some progress has been made on commitments to increasing women’s participation in parliament since the 2010 Speakers’ Conference, the pace of change remains unacceptably slow overall. Some countries have announced planned changes to electoral laws that will ensure more equitable representation of women, youth and minorities.
The Conference, held at United Nations Headquarters in the final run-up to the UN Summit on Sustainable Development, also gave the global parliamentary community’s unequivocal support to the new development agenda with its 17 goals (SDGs). The SDGs are due to be adopted at the Summit later this month.
Welcoming the overall ambition to end poverty and promote peace, equality and the well-being of the people and the planet, the Speakers and IPU committed to working to achieve reaching Goal 16 on the promotion of peaceful, inclusive societies and the building of effective, accountable and inclusive institutions.
They recognized the responsibility parliaments have been given in ensuring the implementation of the SDGs through legislation, allocation of budgetary resources, and holding governments accountable for attaining the goals. Parliaments would also work to build public awareness and national ownership of the SDGs in order to leave no-one behind and strengthen links between parliament and government at both national and local levels.
However, the Speakers called for greater efforts to solve conflicts, end terrorism and violent extremism, as well as to better protect migrants and refugees. As prerequisites for development and social equity, global peace and security had to be an international priority.
“Solutions to what may seem overwhelming challenges are there. They require a different mindset, a new way of doing politics. Parliaments and their leaders must step into the political breach as the voice of the people and grasp the opportunity to shape a new destiny for the world and our planet,” added President Chowdhury. “IPU will support them at every point.”
The next World Conference of Speakers of Parliament will take place in 2020.
The Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) is the global organization of national parliaments. It works to safeguard peace and drives positive democratic change through political dialogue and concrete action.
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Photos of the event will be available on the IPU’s Flickr account.
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