The IPU is an international organisation comprising the parliaments of sovereign states established in 1889 in Paris by William Randal Cremer (United Kingdom) and Frédéric Passy (France). It was the first permanent forum for political multilateral negotiations and the British Group of the IPU has remained active in its work since its inception. Continuing this long history of active engagement, the UK is currently the Vice-President for the 12 Plus Group on the IPU Executive Committee.
The IPU is the focal point for world-wide parliamentary dialogue and works for peace and co-operation among peoples and for the firm establishment of representative democracy. To that end, it: fosters contacts, co-ordination, and the exchange of experience among parliaments and parliamentarians of all countries; considers questions of international interest and concern and expresses its views on such issues in order to bring about action by parliaments and parliamentarians; contributes to the defence and promotion of human rights - an essential factor of parliamentary democracy and development; contributes to better knowledge of the working of representative institutions and to the strengthening and development of their means of action.
Comprising parliamentarians from 171 Member Parliaments and 11 Associate Members, the IPU aims to complement international relations conducted at inter-governmental level by ministers, ambassadors and other state officials by establishing friendship, understanding and co-operation between parliamentarians on issues of common concern and international significance.
The IPU supports the efforts of and works in close co-operation with the United Nations, whose objectives it shares. The Union also co-operates with regional inter-parliamentary organisations, as well as with international intergovernmental and non-governmental organisations which are motivated by the same ideals. The IPU is supported by an International Secretariat based in Geneva since 1921 with responsibility for co-ordinating the IPU's global activities, including biannual Assemblies and other specialised meetings.
The IPU’s Mission Statement, as contained in its Strategy for 2012-17 is:
The IPU, the world organisation of parliaments, is a global forum for parliamentary dialogue, cooperation and action. It advances democracy and assists parliaments and parliamentarians throughout the world to fulfil their mandates.
The IPU facilitates political parliamentary debate, dialogue and cooperation. It promotes and defends democracy and the rule of law. It develops standards, disseminates information on good practices and helps build parliamentary capacity and efficacy. It defends the human rights of members of parliament and promotes respect for universal values, norms and principles. It works in support of gender equality and the participation of women, minorities and indigenous peoples in political and public life. It assists parliaments in coping with a growing international agenda and in contributing a parliamentary dimension to the work of the United Nations and similar multilateral institutions.
In short, the IPU stands for: Better parliaments, stronger democracies.
The IPU’s overarching Vision is:
Key publications produced by the IPU include the Global Parliamentary Report and Parliament and democracy in the twenty-first century: A guide to good practice.
To view all of the IPU's Publications and for further information click here.