135th IPU Assembly highlights human rights role of parliamentarians
The world body of parliamentarians met in Geneva from 23-27 October for the 135th IPU Assembly to debate “Human rights abuses as precursors of conflict: Parliaments as early responders”, adopting an outcome based on its deliberations. In addition to acknowledging the achievements of the IPU’s Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians on its 40th anniversary, the debate also highlighted the key role by played by parliamentarians across the world as human rights defenders. The Assembly also held an emergency debate on the war and humantarian situation in Syria and passed a resolution on this issue.
Some 140 member parliaments, including more than more than 700 MPs, including 67 Speakers of Parliament and 41 Deputy Speakers, gathered in Geneva for the 135th IPU Assembly. A highlight of the meeting was the adoption by consensus of the IPU Strategy for 2017-2021. The Assembly also adopted a resolution by the Standing Committee on Democracy and Human Rights, on the item entitled “The freedom of women to participate in political processes fully, safely and without interference: Building partnerships between men and women to achieve this objective” and consider its future work programme.
Key issues discussed in the Standing Committees on Peace and International Security included a hearing on “The role of parliament in preventing outside interference in the internal affairs of sovereign States” and there were panel discussions on “Promoting democratic accountability of the private security sector” and “Comprehensive Disarmament”.
The Standing Committee on Sustainable Development, Finance and Trade discussed preparations for parliamentary inputs to the UN Climate Change Conference (COP22/CMP12) for Marrakesh and convened a debate on “Promoting enhanced international cooperation on the SDGs, in particular on the financial inclusion of women as a driver of development”. There was also a panel discussion on “The role of parliaments in countering the activities of vulture funds” which included a presentation by the UK’s Andrew Gwynne MP on his 2010 Private Members Bill on the issue. In addition, the Standing Committee on United Nations Affairs debated “Funding the United Nations” and “The UN response to allegations of sexual exploitation and sexual abuse by UN peacekeepers”.
The 135th Assembly also included meetings of the Forum of Women Parliamentarians, including a panel debate on “Securing the rights and future of women and girls during war and conflict” and a parity debate on harassment and violence against parliamentarians. The IPU’s Forum of Young Parliamentarians also discussed youth participation in Parliaments and reviewed the perspectives of young MPs regarding other issues on the Assembly agenda.
Complete details of all the outcomes from the 135th Assembly are available on the IPU website.
The UK Delegation to the 135th IPU Assembly will be led by the BGIPU Chair, Nigel Evans MP. The UK delegation will also include BGIPU Vice-Chair & IPU Executive Committee Vice-President, Mr Ian Liddell-Grainger MP, BGIPU Vice-Chair, Mike Gapes MP, Rt Hon Ann Clwyd MP, Baroness Hooper, Lord Dholakia, Mark Pritchard MP, Fiona Mactaggart MP and Andrew Gwynne MP. In the margins of the Assembly, the UK delegation had an extensive series of bilateral discussions with their parliamentary counterparts, including from the delegations of Nigeria, Ukraine, Israel, Argentina, Iran, Ethiopia, Venezuela, Lebanon, Switzerland, Iraq and Turkey.