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BGIPU takes part in IPU Information Seminar in Geneva

From 8 to 12 June 2015 BGIPU staff member Anja Richter participated in a seminar at the IPU headquarters in the House of Parliaments in Geneva, together with Secretaries and Clerks from other parliaments’ IPU Groups, to learn more about the functioning of the IPU and its procedures, and to exchange ideas and knowledge with counterparts.

Sessions included presentations on IPU statutory bodies, the budget, the work of standing and other committees, programmes and initiatives, and discussions on historical origins, major trends and developments within the IPU. It was useful to hear from colleagues from countries as far as Bhutan, Pakistan and the Seychelles, as well as from European counterparts (Germany, Portugal and Sweden) how they interact with their Members of Parliament and what activities they undertake under IPU auspices. It became clear that the BGIPU is in the fortuitous – and quite unique – position of having a dedicated permanent secretariat to serve and support its Members in undertaking a comprehensive bilateral and multilateral inter-parliamentary programme. Sharing experiences from IPU Assemblies, focussing especially on preparation and follow-up, was also very helpful for both the IPU Secretariat as well as national groups represented to improve the planning stages and running of the half-yearly meeting.

Other topics being discussed included the IPU’s work to promote democracy, peace and humanitarian law, and the strengthening of capacity-building and technical assistance to parliaments. Two of the most interesting sessions focussed on how to make parliaments more gender-sensitive and how to attract and better support young parliamentarians, two of the more recent key programmes in the IPU. As the BGIPU is very active in these areas, other participants were interested to hear about BGIPU’s recent outward delegation of women parliamentarians to Burma, our delegation to the CSW conference in New York, and other events such as the summit on Violence against Women and Girls in cooperation with Action Aid and a panel discussion on gender-sensitive parliaments.

Following a session on the IPU’s cooperation with the United Nations, the programme also included a visit of the United Nations Office in Geneva. The group also met with IPU Secretary General Martin Chungong, who kindly hosted a lunch and closing reception for all participants and gave an overview of the upcoming IPU events, including the World Speakers Conference in New York in August, the 133rd Assembly in Geneva in October, and the Parliamentary meeting on the occasion of the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris in December 2015.