The IPU has held its first regional information seminar in Latin America on the functioning of the organization. The seminar was held in San José, Costa Rica, on 27 and 28 November 2019 in partnership with Costa Rica’s Legislative Assembly. Participants included senior staff from 11 countries: Argentina, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Paraguay, Suriname, Uruguay and Venezuela.
The IPU annual seminar for parliamentary staff is normally held at IPU Headquarters in Geneva in either English or French. Participation from Latin American parliaments has traditionally been low, mainly because of the geographical distance and language considerations. In an effort to strengthen ties with these parliaments, the IPU took the seminar to Latin America, with a complete programme in Spanish.
In her opening remarks, Deputy Speaker Zoila Volio Pacheco said, “The Legislative Assembly of Costa Rica applauds the efforts undertaken by the IPU to raise awareness not only of its defining values but also of its vision for the future through the exchange of best practice and experience among its Members”.
Anda Filip, Director of the IPU Division of Member Parliaments and External Relations, spoke of the challenges that parliaments are facing. “The paradox of our times is that, while we continuously aim to enhance parliamentary democracy, at the same time we see that in many countries, parliament – the central institution of democracy – is facing a crisis of legitimacy. The executive branch continues to dominate the agenda, globalization has led to a type of decision-making that lacks adequate democratic oversight, and people question whether our current institutions can effectively represent them and defend their interests. From this perspective, the IPU has been sparing no efforts to tackle that crisis of legitimacy, working for more representative, open, transparent, accessible and accountable parliaments.”
Information seminars on the structure and functioning of the IPU are aimed at Secretaries of IPU Groups of Member Parliaments and parliamentary staff responsible for international relations, and help to facilitate their work in assisting their parliament and its members on matters relating to the IPU’s programmes and activities, structures and working methods.