2017 is slowly but steadily exiting and making way for a new year full of challenges and opportunity. As we look back on 2017, we can be proud of what we have accomplished together as the global organization of parliaments. We held two memorable Assemblies outside Geneva, each historic in its own right. The Dhaka Assembly will now go down in history as the first green IPU Assembly and the St. Petersburg edition as the one that broke all participation records. The General Debate on “Promoting cultural pluralism and peace through inter-faith and inter-ethnic dialogue” was particularly relevant as the world witnesses unprecedented levels of xenophobia, intolerance and violence. You elected a new IPU President, the youngest ever and the second woman to hold this high office. She is committed to helping us advance the goals of our Organization.
The situation in many hot spots in the world gives us much cause for concern. The war lingers on in Syria, the crisis in Yemen is spiralling out of control, terrorism and violent extremism continue to give us sleepless nights, democracy has come under attack in virtually every region in the world, and the list goes on … So we are still a far cry from asserting that democracy is alive and well throughout the world. Our founding fathers’ vision of peace seems a distant mirage on the horizon.
Against this backdrop, our work on promoting democracy and strong parliaments is more important than ever. Your role as lawmakers and representatives of the people becomes ever more crucial for translating their aspirations for peace, development and prosperity into reality.
The double anniversary we celebrated in 2017: the 20th anniversary of the Universal Declaration on Democracy and 10th anniversary of the International Day of Democracy, were defining moments for us. Against this backdrop, we launched the second edition of the Global Parliamentary Report, our flagship publication. Its overall theme – oversight and accountability – are at the very core of the parliamentary mandate.
Together we look forward to strengthening democracy and making it work for the people. In this context, we ushered in our new Strategy in 2017, which is firmly anchored in the 2030 Development Agenda. The onus is now on parliaments and parliamentarians to demonstrate their relevance. As we look ahead, migration will be the common denominator of many IPU events next year. The spectre of modern-day slavery, the plight of refugees and the fate of the stateless oblige us to speak out and take action against these scourges.
Parliaments should use their constitutional powers to help the global effort against terrorism and violent extremism, a major threat to peace and security. The IPU is poised to assist them in this endeavour.
At this time of the year, marked by goodwill and giving, our thoughts go out to the less fortunate, to women and children in war-torn countries, to besieged populations and to those who desperately seek a better life for themselves and their families.
As a Member-driven organization, we will continue to pursue your goals and your vision for our Organization. We will redouble our efforts to make the IPU more relevant, more transparent, more visible and more universal. The newly-elected President and the Secretary General are committed to working together to help you along that noble path.
Over the past couple of months, we have worked together as a new leadership team. We look forward to leaving a bold new imprint on the Organization.
We extend to you and yours our very best wishes for a happy, safe and peaceful 2018!
—Gabriela Cuevas Barron, IPU President, and Martin Chungong, IPU Secretary General