2020 was a game-changer for the IPU. Starting in March, the IPU had to completely reinvent itself to mitigate the effects of the pandemic on its activities. Despite the lockdowns and restrictions on international travel, we remained open for business and swiftly adapted to the global turmoil by finding new ways to interact with our Members and, by advancing our digital transformation, reasserting the IPU’s role as the premier global platform for parliamentary dialogue.
Our campaign Parliaments in a time of pandemic, launched immediately during the first lockdown in April, proved to be a rallying call for parliaments to face the new challenges with over 100 parliaments participating and sharing adaptation strategies.
Embracing the new virtual reality, the IPU convened the first part, in an online format in mid- August, of the Fifth World Conference of Speakers of Parliament, a global conference that takes place every five years. Over 100 Speakers adopted a solemn and aspirational political declaration setting forth their commitment to robust parliamentary action for a safer, healthier and more prosperous world.
Then, in November, the IPU Governing Council, our plenary decision-making body, met virtually for the first time to adopt the 2021 IPU work programme and budget and elect a new President. The election itself proved to be a prime example of digital democracy. Some 400 parliamentarians from over 140 IPU Member Parliaments exercised their democratic responsibility by voting electronically during a 24-hour window.
Even as the world marked 25 years since the Beijing Declaration on gender equality, COVID-19 amplified many dimensions of gender inequality. Domestic violence has reached alarming levels, for example, prompting talk of a shadow pandemic. In response, we published a specific guidance note on gender and COVID-19, with examples from other parliaments of women’s leadership in parliamentary decision-making as well as recommendations on how to make COVID-19 legislation more gender-sensitive.
The IPU Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians did not let the virus stop them from continuing their work to defend parliamentarians from around the world who face abuse. Pressure from the Committee led to some notable successes in Côte d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Guatemala and Turkey.
Download the IPU’s 2020 Impact Report