IPU Secretary General Martin Chungong recently received the Ambassadors of Austria and Thailand at the Organization’s Headquarters. He has been actively reaching out to the diplomatic community in Geneva, considering the Permanent Missions in Geneva as a useful conduit between the IPU and parliaments back in the various capitals.
On 23 January 2018, Mr. Chungong welcomed the new Austrian Ambassador, Ms. Elisabeth Tichy-Fisslberger, who pledged to work for stronger cooperation between Austria and the IPU. They discussed the role of parliaments in implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Austria has become actively involved in implementing the SDGs. Ms. Tichy-Fisslberger welcomed the IPU-UNDP self-assessment toolkit for parliaments on SDGs, which could be a useful tool for the Austrian Parliament, in particular for first-time MPs.
Other issues raised included nuclear disarmament and human rights. Ms. Tichy-Fisslberger said that nuclear disarmament was a new priority of the new Austrian Government. She said that she was impressed by the IPU’s engagement with parliaments in the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), a way of holding governments to account on human rights.
On 30 January, Mr. Chungong welcomed the Ambassador of Thailand, Mr. Sek Wannamethee, to IPU Headquarters. They reviewed the roadmap set up to restore democracy to the country after a military coup d’état in May 2014. The last step in the roadmap is to hold elections following the promulgation of the new constitution last year. Both parties agreed that those elections should take place as soon as possible. Mr. Chungong noted with satisfaction that the authorities were working towards ensuring that more parties were allowed to participate.
Mr. Chungong and Mr. Wannamethee also discussed parliaments’ role in ensuring universal health coverage and the Global Compact on migration, to be concluded this year, and implementation of the SDGs.