BGIPU History

The Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) was established in 1889 by two backbench MPs: Frederic Passy from France, and William Randal Cremer from Westminster, with the British Group having been founded a few months prior. The Group have been actively involved in international relations since that time under the leadership of the individuals listed below:

BGIPU Office-Holders from 1889 to present:

A Century of Parliamentary Diplomacy: A Short History of the British Group of the Inter-Parliamentary Union 1889-1989

A historical overview of the first 100 years of the BGIPU was written by James Douglas in 1989 to mark its centenary. This publication features the activities and achivevements of many of those office-holders listed above and can be downloaded here in PDF format: A Century of Parliamentary Diplomacy: A Short History of the British Group of the Inter-Parliamentary Union 1889-1989

1885
1885

1885 – William Randal Cremer elected as MP for Haggerston.

BGIPU/IPU founder, Sir William Randal Cremer

William Randal Cremer elected as MP for Haggerston:

 

“There is still a great work before us.  The advocates of peace are, however, no longer regarded as idle dreamers, and I trust that I have convinced you that our course has, especially of late, made wonderful progress and that we nearing the goal of our hopes.  The world has passed through a long night of tribulation and suffering, millions of our fellow creatures have been sacrificed to the demon of war;  their blood has saturated every plain and dyed every ocean.  But courage, friends, courage!  The darkness is ending, a new day is dawning, and the future is ours.”

1887
1887

1887

Randal Cremer presents to the US President a resolution signed by 234 MPs urging America to sign a Treaty with Britain to agree that disputes between them which could not be settled by diplomacy should always go to arbitration.

1888
1888

Summer 1888

Summer: Randal Cremer and Frederic Passy meet in Paris to discuss inter-parliamentary cooperation to promote peace.

1889
1889

30th June 1889

30th June 1889

30th June 1889: The founding act of the Inter-Parliamentary Conference and therefore, indirectly, of the Union is signed. This provided the origins for today’s form of institutionalised multilateral co-operation and advocated the establishment of corresponding institutions at the inter-governmental level – which eventually came into being as the United Nations.

 

1899
1899

1899

IPU helps establish the Permanent Court of Arbitration.

1903
1903

1903

IPU helps establish the Permanent Court of Arbitration.        

1906
1906

1906

The British Group of the IPU adopts for itself a Latin motto ‘Pro Patria per Orbis Concordium’ (for the country through world harmony).

1908
1908

1908

The IPU established with an elected Executive Committee of 5 Members and a paid Secretary General.

1910
1910

1910

First delegations, from Russia and Turkey, invited by BGIPU, visit Westminster.  Lunch with the Russian delegation was attended by Prime Minister Asquith. 

1919
1919

1919

The precursor to the United Nations, The League of Nations is established some 30 years after the IPU.

1921
1921

1921

The IPU Headquarters is permanently established in Geneva.

1943
1943

1943

An IPU meeting in London establishes a European Sub-Committee. This Sub Committee is now known as the 12+ Group within which the BGIPU operates at Multilateral Assemblies.

1945
1945

1945

Just a few months after the cessation of hostilities, the IPU recommences its work with substantive meetings in 1945 and 1946 before covening its 36th Assembly in Cairo in 1947 to discuss the new challenges facing the world in the wake of WWII.

1947
1947

1947 – 57

1947 – 57: UK Peer Lord Stansgate (formerly the UK House of Commons Member and wartime Secretary of State for Air, William Wedgwood Benn MP) elected to the Presidency of the IPU in the crucial post-WWII period and ensures the organisation’s work continues and flourishes with the resumption of annual IPU Assemblies.

1957
1957

1957

The London Conference opening ceremony is televised for the first time with Richard Dimbleby.  Sir Winston Churchill sends a message to the Conference:  

‘Our Parliament has survived because it made itself the spokesman not of government but of the people.  In the fiercest clash of debate we have jealously guarded the right of every Member freely to speak for his constituents and for himself.  If your Conference will follow this tradition, it can make a significant contribution to toleration between ideologies and understanding between nations.  Thus alone can freedom endure and mankind live in peace’.

1962
1962

1962

The Inter-Parliamentary Conference takes place in Brasilia during the Cuban missile crisis and adopted a resolution on the crisis, to which President John F Kennedy responds personally.

1975
1975

4 September 1975

4 September 1975

4th September 1975: Her Majesty the Queen addresses the inaugural ceremony of the IPU Assembly in London:  

“The parliamentary approach to world affairs offered the best hope of winning that concord between nations which had been sought for so long.  It enabled change without violence, because it’s essence was a respect for the other person’s point of view and a passionately-held belief in his right to express it”

1984
1984

April 1984

April 1984: The British Delegation to the IPU Assembly in Geneva lunched with the Argentineans attending the Conference for the first time in many years and thereby established the first post-Falkland’s parliamentary bridge with that country.

1984

December 1984

December 1984

December 1984: BGIPU delegation from the USSR to Westminster, led by Politburo Member Mr Mikhail Gorbachev 

Prime Minister Thatcher’s letter thanking the BGIPU Chair for Mr Gorbachev’s historic visit is here .

1986
1986

May 1986

May 1986: BGIPU delegation to the USSR led by The Rt Hon Viscount Whitelaw CH MC, including round table talks with Mikhail Gorbachev.