Over 1700 parliamentarians and UN and civil society partners from around the world will meet in Belgrade, Serbia, from 13 to 17 October for the 141st IPU Assembly. Under the overarching theme of Strengthening international law: Parliamentary roles and mechanisms, and the contribution of regional cooperation, MPs will also discuss the latest developments to improve gender equality, empower young people, defend MPs’ human rights, and achieve universal health coverage. The Serbian National Assembly will host delegates from some 140 countries, with over 70 Speakers of Parliament attending – one of the IPU’s records – as well as 40 Deputy Speakers and over 700 MPs, of whom 30 per cent are women and 17 per cent are young MPs under 45.
Following a successful visit by Lithuanian parliamentarians to the UK parliament last year, a BGIPU delegation visited Lithuania from 23rd to 27th September. The delegation was led by BGIPU and Lithuania APPG Chair, Rt Hon John Whittingdale OBE MP. The visit coincided with the centenary celebrations of the establishment of UK-Lithuanian diplomatic relations, and the visit marked the movement towards a new chapter in these strong bilateral ties. The UK delegation was able to meet Government Ministers, parliamentary counterparts, senior officials and leading experts across a wide range of issues including post-Brexit relations, defence and security issues, foreign relations matters, key energy and transport challenges and music and cultural exchange activities.
Speaking on the International Day of Democracry in a call for inclusive parliaments, IPU President, Gabriela Cuevas Barron said we have seen the positive impact a stronger parliament can have on drastically improving people’s lives and reinforcing democratic institutions. It is our duty as people across the globe recognise that stronger democracies are the best response to extremism and the challenges the world faces. She noted that in current times it is not democracy as a system of values, principles and governance that is being questioned. It is the approach to the practice of democracy and the institutions established, often centuries ago, which need to be reviewed and made more effective for the benefit of the people. It is clear that that democracy must be redesigned for the challenges of the 21st century.