Fair and democratic societies are built on human rights and the rule of law, and MPs have a vital role in ensuring that these rights are upheld. To raise awareness on the role of Parliament to promote and protect human rights, the Parliament of Myanmar (Hluttaw) and the IPU, with support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), organized an introductory seminar on the role of Parliament to promote and protect human rights. The seminar, held on 5 July in Naypyitaw as part of the Hluttaw Learning Centre’s series of professional development programmes for MPs, was delivered to over 300 parliamentarians and formed the first step of their engagement with human rights issues.
News in brief
An estimated one million children under five die annually from causes related to undernutrition in the Western and Central African Region (WCAR). MPs from the region met in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, from 27 to 29 June, to discuss how parliaments could contribute to improving maternal and child nutrition. The regional parliamentary seminar was co-organized by the IPU, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and Alive & Thrive with support from the Parliament of Burkina Faso.
Rwandan parliamentarians met with religious leaders on 24 June to sensitize them to their role in civil registration and vital statistics (CRVS). The outreach activity covered all 30 districts in the country and involved 65 MPs. It was supported by the IPU as part of its work with the Parliament of Rwanda on maternal, newborn and child health (MNCH).
The IPU held a capacity-building workshop for staff of the Kenyan Parliament on mainstreaming gender into parliamentary work. The workshop, co-organized with the Parliament of Kenya on 19-23 June in Nairobi, was a follow-up of a self-assessment exercise conducted in 2016 on the Parliament's gender-sensitivity. One of the recommendations from the self-assessment was to ensure that staff have strengthened capacities and tools to mainstream gender into parliamentary work.
Five years ago, the IPU’s Plan of Action for Gender-Sensitive Parliaments was adopted by the 127th IPU Assembly in Quebec. Since then, the IPU has been helping parliaments become more gender sensitive and has developed a self-assessment toolkit to help them examine their strengths and challenges in embodying gender equality and delivering on it. The five-year anniversary provides an opportunity to reinvigorate the strategy and take stock of lessons learned from gender assessments of parliaments. To this end, the IPU organized an Expert Group Meeting, which brought together researchers, experts and practitioners involved in parliamentary gender assessments or audits. The meeting took place at IPU headquarters in Geneva on 11-12 June.
The IPU was actively involved in the 35th session of the Human Rights Council, which was held in Geneva from 6 to 23 June 2017. We organized three side events and made two contributions, one oral and one written. On 23 June 2017, the Council adopted a resolution supporting stronger cooperation with parliaments.
Dealing with gender inequalities in the economy and family; improving the health of women and girls; and encouraging bills by private members to tackle sexual offences and amend discriminatory legislation: these were some of the priorities identified during a seminar on Uganda’s implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). The focus of the seminar—organized by the Parliament of Uganda and the IPU and held from 14 to 15 June—was parliament’s role in the implementation of CEDAW.
Preventing violence against women and girls (VAWG) requires more than adopting laws—they need to be effectively implemented. Parliamentarians, NGOs and legal officers met to discuss the issue at a regional conference for Eastern and Central Europe on Making Laws Work to End Violence against Women and Girls. The conference, held from 12 to 14 June, was co-organized by the IPU, Vital Voices, Global Rights for Women and the Romanian Chamber of Deputies, with the support of the Senate of Romania.
The IPU condemns in the strongest terms the recent attack on US Congressman Steve Scalise and three other individuals, including a congressional staff member. Our thoughts are with the victims and their families as they struggle to deal with the tragic consequences.
Vital to our survival and providing livelihoods for millions of people, the Ocean is severely threatened by climate change, pollution and unsustainable practices. The United Nations held a five-day conference on the Ocean from 5-9 June to begin to address these issues and, at the end of the Conference, Member States adopted a Call to Action to protect the ocean. In February, the IPU and the United Nations held an Annual Parliamentary Hearing that focused on the ocean. The hearing provided a parliamentary component to the preparatory process for the conference; several of its recommendations were included in the Call to Action.