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World’s MPs commit to tackling human rights challenges

IPU Assembly

Parliamentarians from across the globe declared their commitment to raising the alarm and taking action when serious human rights challenges emerge, particularly in conflict situations.

In a declaration on human rights abuses as precursors of conflict, adopted at the conclusion of the 135th IPU Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland, IPU Members said that parliamentarians are the guardians of human rights and the rule of law, and if violations or challenges occur they are the early responders.

The declaration details specific actions parliaments can take to prevent human rights abuses and tackle them when they occur. Ensuring international human rights norms are part of national legislation, guaranteeing that law enforcement always acts with the necessary restraint, combating gender-based violence, and preventing the rise of violent extremism are a few of the concrete measures parliaments must take to protect their citizens’ human rights.

The declaration makes clear that MPs must “…speak out vigorously against violations and work tirelessly to find a remedy, whatever the violation, and wherever it occurs.”

“As people suffer dire consequences from conflicts in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and elsewhere, MPs must be part of the efforts to find peace, promote dialogue and end the violence and tragic loss of life. We need to use our strength as the ‘eyes and ears of our citizens’ to prevent human rights abuses in conflicts and protect the people we represent,” stated IPU President Saber Chowdhury.

Following a report released during the Assembly that highlights widespread sexism and violence against women MPs, the IPU Members adopted a resolution stressing the freedom of women to participate in political processes fully, safely and without interference. 

The resolution calls upon parliaments and political parties to adopt policies on preventing sexual harassment, and creating effective complaints mechanisms and penalties for offenders. It also urges parliaments to set a deadline by which at least 30 per cent of MPs should be women.

IPU also welcomed Swaziland as the 171st Member of the Organization.

The Assembly marked the 40th anniversary of the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians, which works to protect or seek redress for MPs whose rights have been abused.   

The anniversary was the opportunity to call on MPs to demonstrate greater parliamentary solidarity with those peers whose fundamental rights have been violated.  

Over 680 MPs from 140 countries, including 101 Speakers and Deputy Speakers attended the IPU Assembly in Geneva.

IPU, the global organization of national parliaments, works to safeguard peace and drive positive democratic change in countries around the world.

Find out about the many other issues and events of the 135th Assembly by accessing http://www.ipu.org/conf-e/135agnd.htm.

Picture editors: Photos from the Assembly are available for free download and use at: http://www.ipu.org/135pics

For further information, please contact Jean Milligan, tel.: +41 22 919 41 58/+41 78 611 4051 – email: jm@ipu.org