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A Brief history of the IPU

The late nineteenth century was an uncertain and turbulent period. For many world powers, war was the only way to settle any differences.

But two parliamentarians – one British, one French – realized that it did not have to be this way. Visionaries at the time, William Randal Cremer and Frédéric Passy believed that a more peaceful and stable international order was possible if countries could settle their differences through arbitration and not war.

They had reached this conclusion despite different backgrounds and nationalities. William Randal Cremer was a working class politician, while Passy came from an aristocratic family. After hearing about each other, they invited a small group of parliamentarians from nine countries to meet in in Paris on 30 June 1889 for the first international parliamentary conference of its kind. 

And so the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) was born, the first political multilateral organization in the world. 

What happened next? Watch a Brief history of the IPU and how it grew to become a thriving global organization, the parliament of parliaments, composed of 180 national parliaments and open to all 46,000 parliamentarians in the world.

Opening session of the 23rd IPU Parliamentary Conference in October 1925 in the US Congress. Copyright Harris & Ewing.