Young people are vastly under-represented in political decision-making. Although 51 per cent of the world’s population is under 30, young people under 30 make up less than 2 per cent of the world’s MPs. This is largely due to laws that do not allow young people – although they have the right to vote – to have the right to run for office. In a historic step, on 31 May 2018, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari signed into law the Not Too Young to Run Bills that reduce the age that young people can run for elected office by five years in each category. The minimum age to become president in the country is now 35; 30 for governor and senator; and 25 for a member of the House of Representatives and the State House of Assembly.
News in brief
With only 12 years to go, members of parliament from Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia met in Belgrade last week to discuss how they can accelerate the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.
What role can parliaments play in achieving universal health coverage and global health security? A vital one - according to a technical briefing co-organized by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) at the 71st World Health Assembly in Geneva.
The United Nations General Assembly has adopted its latest resolution on the interaction between the United Nations, parliaments and the IPU. The resolution, co-sponsored by over 90 UN Member States, reaffirms the commitment of all parties to continue efforts to bridge the democracy gap between the international agenda and its implementation at the national level. The resolution recognizes particularly the work of the IPU in mobilizing parliamentary action to implement the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.
The IPU welcomes the news of the release and full pardon of Dato Seri Anwar Ibrahim, the former Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia. Mr. Anwar was released from prison today after being granted a full royal pardon. The IPU Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians, which has been defending Mr. Anwar’s case since the 1990s, has consistently maintained that Mr. Anwar was the victim of an unfair trial and has lobbied intensively over the years for his release.
Although parliaments have a crucial role to play in building and sustaining peace, they are often missing from key UN debates and reports, said Mexican MP Laura Rojas, a member of the Bureau and former President of the IPU’s Committee on Peace and International Security. She was speaking at the Dialogue on Strategic Partnerships with the United Nations, as part of the High-Level Meeting (HLM) of the General Assembly on Peacebuilding and Sustaining Peace, which took place from 24 to 26 April 2018 in New York.
The Steering Committee of the Parliamentary Conference on the World Trade Organization (PCWTO) reaffirmed its support for “an open and rules-based multilateral trading system with the WTO at its core”, saying that it believed that “free and fair trade is a powerful engine for growth”. The Parliamentary Conference is a joint initiative of IPU and the European Parliament. In a statement issued at its 41st session held in Brussels on 24 and 25 April 2018, the Committee the Committee urged the filling of existing vacancies in the Appellate Body of the WTO to allow it to do its work effectively.
Young people worldwide are having trouble finding work: around 70 million of them are unemployed, according to Gabriela Cuevas Barron, President of the IPU. She was speaking at the Parliamentary Symposium on Jobs during the Global Parliamentary Conference 2018, which took place in Washington DC on 16-17 April 2018. Ms. Cuevas Barron was the guest speaker at a session on Challenges of Youth Employment Today. She stressed the need for better legislation to ensure jobs for young people, one of the targets of SDG8: full and productive employment and decent work for all, including for young people, by 2030.
The IPU and the United Nations Environment Programme will be working together to ensure that parliaments have the tools they need to be able to tackle climate change and environmental degradation effectively. On 12 April 2018, IPU Secretary General Martin Chungong, and UN Environment Executive Director Erik Solheim signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) setting out their joint cooperation on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), especially those related to environment and climate change, as well as the implementation of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and its associated treaties, including the Paris Agreement.
The Common Principles for Support to Parliaments designed by the IPU set out the fundamental principles for planning and implementing programmes to strengthen parliaments, balancing the delivery of external technical assistance with the needs and expertise of local actors. On 29 March 2018, the IPU organized the Second Expert Roundtable on the Common Principles on “Proactive parliaments: Bolstering self-development”.