What is the BGIPU?
The BGIPU aims to serve Britain’s interests through advancing the Parliamentary dimension of Britain’s foreign relations.
The British Group Inter-Parliamentary Union (BGIPU) is the official national group representing UK parliamentarians in the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU). BGIPU’s membership comprises all sitting members of the House of Commons and the House of Lords across all political parties and the crossbenches of the Palace of Westminster. Numbering some 1430 parliamentarians, BGIPU represents the second largest legislature in the world. BGIPU was also one of the two founding national groups of the IPU under the leadership of Sir William Randal Cremer MP, who formed the organisation with his French counterpart, Frédéric Passy in 1889.
The British Group was formed in March that year, followed a few months later by the establishment of the IPU on 30 June. For his central role in founding the IPU, Randal Cremer MP became the first British recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1903. BGIPU has attended every IPU membership conference since its inception, hosting six Statutory Assemblies (1890, 1906, 1930, 1957, 1975, 1989) including its landmark centenary event 35 years ago. UK parliamentarians have held the IPU Presidency on four occasions (1912-22, 1947-57, 1976-79 and 1991-94) accounting for almost 30 years of the IPU’s history.
In the pursuit of peace and prosperity among nations, BGIPU’s main focus is to advance Britain’s interests abroad by influencing international events and shaping global norms through inter-parliamentary exchanges and dialogue. It works to expand awareness and understanding of foreign relations and the contribution being made by the UK Parliament to parliamentary democracy worldwide.
BGIPU supports effective global peace and security mechanisms, encourages fair trade and sustainable economic development, including the need for urgent global action on climate change, defends human rights and respect for the rule of law as being central to our core democratic principles. BGIPU seeks to advance the key role parliaments can play in international affairs, including by ensuring greater parliamentary input to the multilateral system and greater recognition of the importance of parliamentarianism to the debates and decisions of the United Nations.
BGIPU is led by a Chair elected annually from among its membership, along with three Vice-Chairs and a Treasurer as part of a 26-member Executive Committee. Through BGIPU, this Committee has unique responsibility for ensuring the effective representation of British interests in the IPU as the world body of Parliaments. In accordance with this mandate, BGIPU selects and manages UK delegations to the IPU’s twice yearly Assemblies and supports UK participation in a wide variety of international parliamentary meetings on the IPU agenda.
BGIPU also coordinates an active programme of bilateral inter-parliamentary exchanges with other IPU member parliaments worldwide (specifically focused on non-Commonwealth countries). BGIPU’s work is supported by a dedicated Secretariat under the direction and guidance of the Chair, Officers and Executive Committee. BGIPU is funded jointly by the House of Commons and the House of Lords with the primary aim of advancing the parliamentary dimension of Britain’s foreign relations.