The Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) is gravely concerned about the continuing violence, intimidation and forced displacement of the Rohingya Muslim minority in Myanmar’s Rakhine State. Reports of documented widespread cruelty against Rohingya children, women and men and the ensuing massive exodus into neighbouring Bangladesh are very disconcerting. The IPU is particularly worried about the dire conditions in refugee camps in Bangladesh.
News in brief
Marking the 2017 International Day of Democracy (IDD) on 15 September, the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) is celebrating two important milestones: the 10th anniversary of the IDD and the 20th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Democracy. The IPU has placed this year’s IDD under the banner of “In defence of democracy”.
The IPU provides technical support to parliaments, including on information and communication technology (ICT) projects. Over the last few months, the IPU has worked with the Parliaments of Sri Lanka, Vanuatu and Zambia to set up digital repositories for their respective parliamentary libraries. One of the goals of the projects is to encourage parliamentary staff to transfer their acquired knowledge to other parliaments. As part of this, the Chief Librarian of the Zambia’s National Assembly presented a paper on digital repositories at the 33rd IFLAPARL Pre-Conference.
The IPU condemns, in the strongest possible terms, the military’s interference in the business of the Maldives parliament. The IPU Secretary General Martin Chungong and the IPU President Saber Chowdhury have called for calm and for the Parliament to be allowed to carry out its functions without intimidation.
Data from the IPU shows the worrisome lack of representation of young people in parliaments. To commemorate International Youth Day 2017 (12 August), the IPU asked young MPs worldwide to share their views on how to increase youth engagement in politics. We are sharing these views through a social media campaign on Twitter and Facebook. Young MPs provide examples of how they have reached out to youth in their communities, and ensured that their concerns and actions are integrated into parliamentary debates. This campaign is part of the IPU’s work in helping to increase the number of young MPs in parliaments worldwide. This year also marks the 20th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration on Democracy (UDD), adopted by IPU Member Parliaments in September 1997. Young MPs have played a pivotal role in advancing its principles.
The IPU presented a “sneak preview” of the forthcoming Global Parliamentary Report (GPR) on parliamentary oversight to a group of scholars and parliamentarians at a two-day workshop in Wroxton College, United Kingdom. The GPR will be co-published by the IPU and the United Nation Development Programme (UNDP) and presented at the 137th IPU Assembly in October 2017. The IPU also presented its work on strengthening parliaments.
Malian MPs from across all political parties gathered at an IPU seminar in Bamako, Mali, to discuss gender equality and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The seminar, which was co-organized with the Parliament of Mali, took place on 25 and 26 July. The seminar aimed to sensitize Malian MPs to their role in promoting SDGs and gender equality and to help them to identify strategies to better integrate these two issues into public policies and laws.
In September 2016, the UN General Assembly hosted a High-Level Summit during which Member States committed to negotiating a “Global Compact on Safe, Regular and Orderly Migration”. The IPU is closely following this process, which will conclude with a major conference in September 2018. As part of the negotiating process, the IPU organized a group of 17 MPs from 11 parliaments to participate in two meetings at UN headquarters from 24 to 26 July: a thematic session primarily on the economic aspects of migration, led by governmental representatives, and a multistakeholder hearing designed to allow parliamentarians, civil society representatives, academics and other experts to review the main issues that may be part of the global compact.
Both the President and the Secretary General of the IPU have expressed serious concern about the continuing violence and bloodshed in Venezuela. The situation has further escalated in recent days as Venezuelan President Maduro has decided to go ahead with the vote on 30 July to elect a Constituent Assembly to redraft the country’s Constitution. In the interest of peace, the IPU calls on the authorities to reconsider the 30 July vote.
The IPU has been assisting the National Assembly of Zambia develop a digital library to improve information management and sharing with MPs and the public. As part of this ongoing work, the IPU just completed a technical support mission to Lusaka. During the mission, workshops were held for parliamentary staff to resolve technical issues and enhance the library’s digital interface. The workshops also bolstered the process for submitting documents to the library.