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Statement by the French and British Groups of the IPU for the 130th anniversary

The President of the National Assembly, Richard Ferrand, welcomed delegations from France and Britain, with Martin Chungong, IPU Secretary General

The President of the National Assembly, Richard Ferrand, welcomed delegations from France and Britain, with Martin Chungong, IPU Secretary General © Assemblée nationale


Statement by the French and British Groups of the IPU
Paris, 27 June 2019

Gathered in Paris, at the Senate and the National Assembly, to celebrate the 130th anniversary of the first meeting of the IPU on 29 and 30 June 1889 in Paris, the French and British Groups of the IPU reaffirm in the following statement their commitment to the values that guided the founding of the IPU and which continue to inspire our inter-parliamentary engagement and activities today.

The IPU was born in 1889 from the initiative of two parliamentarians, the British William Randal Cremer and the French Frédéric Passy, convinced of the role that parliamentarians could play in promoting democracy and peace through dialogue, which they saw as two closely inter-linked actions. In a world still exhibiting secretive machinations and opposing bloc mentalities (which remain a source of conflicts), this innovative vision, advocating arbitration, mediation and peaceful resolution of national differences, sowed the seeds of future multilateral institutions which followed, such as the League of Nations and the United Nations, both established with the main objective of thwarting any recourse to war.

These values of democracy, respect for the freedom of people and international arbitration were embraced more fully in the second half of the twentieth century, in the aftermath of the Second World War, with the birth of new independent sovereign States out of the rubble of ancient colonial and ideological empires. The defence of these values remains as relevant to international affairs today as ever before, where some nations still prefer to exercise a form of authoritarianism in their internal affairs and unilateralism in the conduct of diplomatic relations, regardless of the risks of compromising human rights or threatening world peace.

That is why British and French parliamentarians, gathered here in Paris, in the city where the IPU was born, wish to reaffirm their faith and their commitment to two fundamental values:

  • representative democracy, which can take various forms depending on national cultures and traditions, but which is based in a few fundamental principles: the organization of free, fair and regular elections; freedom of thought and expression, especially through independent press and media; free exercise by parliamentarians of their mandate free from pressure or persecution; the existence of checks and balances guaranteed by the rule of law; the security, dignity and human rights of all citizens and non-citizens, regardless of race, religion, beliefs, gender or sexual orientation ;
  • the promotion of peace through negotiation and dialogue and faith in the conduct of inter-parliamentary diplomacy to maintain contacts and channels of negotiation to work towards mutual understanding.

Each member of the IPU respects the democratic models of political discourse and social development that are chosen, freely and in an enlightened way, by their respective populations. By joining the IPU, however, parliaments have agreed to uphold without reservation, according to their own procedures, the universal values of peace and respect for the human person as recognized above.

Now, well into the 21st century, we must also add to the struggle for democracy and peace:

  • equality between women and men, requiring continued strengthening of the IPU’s work to achieve an equal representation of women in parliaments, particularly in positions of authority, and for the defense of women’s rights in all aspects of their social and personal life;
  • the battle against climate change and the promotion of sustainable development, as we enter a third stage of the IPU's vital work to advance the well-being of all people to achieve a better future for all humankind.

In the picture, from left to right

Edward Llewellyn, British Ambassador to France
Sophie Errante, French MP
Michel Larive, French MP
Jean-Michel Mis, French MP
Véronique Riotton, French MP
Hubert Julien-Laferrière, French MP
Alistair Burt, British MP
Robert del Picchia, French senator
John Whittingdale, British MP
Richard Ferrand, President of the French National Assembly
Martin Chungong, Secretary General of the IPU
Frances D’Souza, Member of the House of Lords
Gloria Hooper, Member of the House of Lords
Caroline Janvier, French MP
Nic Dakin, British MP
Nadia Essayan, French MP
Frédéric Marchand, French senator

The IPU’s 130th anniversary takes place on 30 June 2019, on the International Day of Parliamentarism.