Nearly 750 MPs worldwide condemned the discrimination and abuse of refugees and migrants at the conclusion of the 138th Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) Assembly in Geneva.
The Assembly Declaration emphasized the critical role of parliaments in transforming the aspirations of the two Global Compacts – one on migrants and the other on refugees - into national laws.
The Declaration asserted that migration when properly managed contributes to greater well-being and prosperity. Likewise, the Declaration said that the flight of refugees from persecution and conflict is not new. When refugees flee, those who provide them with the protection and assistance they need represent the power of humanity and must be supported in their efforts by the international community.
IPU President Gabriela Cuevas Barron reiterated the spirit of the Assembly Declaration by saying in her opening remarks: “We have the power, as members of parliament, to turn the tide. As a starting point, we should stop considering migration as a ‘problem’. Let us think of it as both a challenge and an opportunity for all parties involved.” She added that: “the 22.5 million refugees around the world, and more comprehensively the 65.6 million forcibly displaced people worldwide, are not only people in need of assistance, but also agents of change both in their home and recipient countries.”
In addition, the IPU and UNHCR launched a major publication at the Assembly on refugee protection and building state asylum systems. Among the many issues covered in the publication is mobilizing parliamentary support for establishing and maintaining fair and effective national asylum systems.
MPs also tackled sustainable development issues related to health, renewable energy, and conflict prevention and resolution throughout the five-day Assembly. They reminded governments of their responsibility to “leave no one behind” in their development efforts.
“The actions taken and statements made during this Assembly clearly show that the parliamentary community is playing a pivotal role in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals,” explained IPU Secretary General Martin Chungong. “Whether it is promoting universal health coverage or looking for ways to maintain and promote peace, parliamentarians are keeping up the pressure on governments to uphold the promises they made when adopting the SDGs at this Assembly and beyond.”
Young MPs attending the Assembly reiterated calls for an internationally recognized target for youth participation in parliament and called on the IPU to take the lead on this issue. They also denounced barriers faced by young people worldwide to gain access to health services, in particular related to the treatment of HIV/AIDS.
The IPU, wanting to serve as an example in promoting youth participation in politics, amended its Statutes and Rules to allow Member Parliaments to increase the number of representatives attending an Assembly with the critical stipulation that one of them is a young parliamentarian.
In light of escalating international tensions and rising risks of a nuclear weapon detonation, progress in nuclear disarmament is more urgent than ever. IPU Members also put forward a comprehensive list of actions that parliaments can take to promote ratification of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.
During a debate on chemical weapons, Members reminded the parliamentary community that the use of these weapons is prohibited by international law.
MPs attending the Forum of Women Parliamentarians denounced the obstacles blocking women from participating in politics, foremost among them inadequate education. The session concluded with an urgent call for concrete actions to increase women’s participation and representation in politics.
For more information about the Assembly, go to ipu.org/Assembly
The Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) is the global organization of national parliaments. It works to safeguard peace and drives positive democratic change through political dialogue and concrete action.
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