Over 1000 parliamentarians and experts from 135 countries connected this week to the concluding sessions of the 142nd IPU Assembly, held online for the first time. Over 37 per cent of registered MPs were women and some 26 per cent were young MPs, testimony to the importance attached by the IPU to gender equality and youth participation.
Under the umbrella theme of Overcoming the pandemic today and building a better tomorrow: the role of parliaments, MPs identified what parliamentary strategies were necessary to save lives by speeding up the equitable distribution of vaccinations and to rebuild more sustainable and inclusive economies.
IPU President, Mr. Duarte Pacheco, said: “We must seize the momentum created by this unique IPU Assembly to ensure parliaments contribute to rethinking the foundations of the pre-pandemic world and pave the way for a post-pandemic world that is equitable, green and fair. A reinvigoration of our global multilateral system is one way to do this, but we must also continue to build strong and democratic national parliaments that deliver for the people.”
IPU Secretary General, Mr. Martin Chungong, said: “Despite the lockdowns and restrictions on international travel over the past year, the IPU has remained open for business by finding new ways, including digital transformation, to continue providing a platform for parliamentarians from all over the world to interact, albeit virtually. This virtual Assembly reasserts the IPU’s role as the premier global body for parliamentary dialogue.”
Beyond the pandemic
In the President’s Summary, encapsulating the deliberations of some 30 virtual meetings over the past few weeks, IPU Member Parliaments called for a stronger response to end the pandemic as well as actions to advance peace, sustainable development, gender equality, youth empowerment, democracy and human rights.
Keynote speakers included Ms. Helen Clark, former Prime Minister of New Zealand, now Co-Chair of the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response and Board Chair of the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health; Ms. Anuradha Gupta, Deputy CEO of Gavi, the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization; and Dr. Jomo Sundaram, former chief economist at the United Nations and prominent academic at Columbia University and the International Islamic University in Malaysia.
Member Parliaments also adopted two resolutions to strengthen peace against threats of conflicts brought about by climate change, as well as on mainstreaming digitalization and the circular economy to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. Both resolutions are designed to be blueprints for parliamentary action at the national level.
Defending the human rights of parliamentarians
At the Assembly, the international parliamentary community condemned human rights violations suffered by MPs from around the world and committed to taking action to defend them. The IPU Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians, the only international body with an exclusive remit to support MPs in danger, presented alleged cases of abuse against parliamentarians in Egypt, Myanmar, Philippines, Senegal, Turkey, Yemen and Zimbabwe.
Participants also heard a direct testimonial from one of the Myanmar MPs elected in November 2020 and now in hiding since the military coup in February 2021.
More details on the cases of abused parliamentarians will be published next week.
In a good example of digital democracy, the Assembly also saw dozens of new parliamentarians from all regions of the world elected to fill various vacancies in a host of IPU statutory bodies.
The IPU electoral system for its governance bodies ensures fair geographical distribution of seats as well as respect for gender equality. For example, several prominent women MPs were elected: Ms. Sahar Albazar from Egypt as new President of the Board of the Forum of Young Parliamentarians, and Ms. Lesia Vasylenko from Ukraine and Ms. Hala Ramzy Fayez from Bahrain as President and First Vice-President respectively of the Forum of Women Parliamentarians.
A new award for MP(s) of the year
IPU Member Parliaments also agreed to establish the IPU Cremer-Passy Prize – an annual award to an MP or group of MPs who make an outstanding contribution to the IPU’s mission as well as to a more united, fair, secure, sustainable and equitable world.
A jury made up of seven parliamentarians including former IPU Presidents and other prominent leaders representing the IPU Geopolitical Groups will select the winning parliamentarian(s).
The prize is named after the visionary parliamentarians who originally founded the IPU in 1889: William Randal Cremer from Great Britain and Frédéric Passy from France.
The IPU is the global organization of national parliaments. It was founded more than 130 years ago as the first multilateral political organization in the world, encouraging cooperation and dialogue between all nations. Today, the IPU comprises 179 national Member Parliaments and 13 regional parliamentary bodies. It promotes democracy and helps parliaments become stronger, younger, gender-balanced and more diverse. It also defends the human rights of parliamentarians through a dedicated committee made up of MPs from around the world. Twice a year, the IPU convenes over 1,500 parliamentary delegates and partners in a world assembly, bringing a parliamentary dimension to global governance, including the work of the United Nations and the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.