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World Conference of Speakers of Parliament to meet in person in Vienna on 7-8 September

The Fifth World Conference of Speakers of Parliament, the world’s largest gathering of the highest level of parliamentary representation, will take place in Vienna, Austria on 7-8 September.

Organized jointly by the IPU and the Austrian Parliament, in cooperation with the United Nations, this in-person segment of the conference follows a virtual session held in August 2020.

The conference will be preceded by the Thirteenth Summit of Women Speakers of Parliament on 6 September and will be followed by the First Global Parliamentary Summit on Counter-Terrorism on 9 September.

Over 110 Speakers of Parliament from around the world are expected to come to Vienna for the first physical large-scale inter-parliamentary meeting since the beginning of the COVID pandemic.

The Austrian authorities have put in place robust and comprehensive health measures to guarantee a safe conference, including compulsory COVID-19 testing to access the conference venue, limits to the numbers of delegates, social distancing and mandatory face-masks.

The two-day conference takes place under the umbrella theme of “Parliamentary leadership for more effective multilateralism that delivers peace and sustainable development for the people and the planet.”

The Speakers of Parliament will focus on priorities that require urgent international parliamentary action including the global response to the pandemic and the post-COVID recovery, the climate emergency, countering misinformation, youth participation in politics and gender equality.

The opening of the conference will include remarks from Duarte Pacheco, IPU President; Wolfgang Sobotka, Speaker of the Austrian National Council; Peter Raggl, Speaker of the Austrian Federal Council; Tone Wilhelmsen Trøen, Speaker of the Norwegian Storting (reporting on the outcome of the Summit of Women Speakers) and Abdulla Shahid, the 76th President of the United Nations General Assembly.

The Speakers will also hear from youth activists including Xiye Bastida, one of the lead organizers of the youth climate justice movement.  The World Conference of Speakers of Parliament takes place every five years. Its objective is to reinforce the parliamentary dimension of global governance.  Discover the conference website

UK Parliament Representation

UK Parliament will be represented at the Conference by Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons and Chairman of Ways and Means, Rt Hon Dame Eleanor Laing MP.

Dame Eleanor Laing has been the MP for Epping Forest since 1997. She was elected Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons in 2013, appointed a Privy Counsellor in 2017 and became the first ever woman to be elected to the position of Chairman of Ways and Means in 2020. Eleanor was awarded her Damehood in Her Majesty The Queen’s Birthday Honours in 2018.

Before becoming Deputy Speaker, she was a member of the influential Political and Constitutional Reform Select Committee and Chairman of the 1922 Home and Constitutional Affairs Committee. Always deeply involved in parliamentary reform, Eleanor was a member of the controversial Joint Committee on the House of Lords, the Joint Committee on Parliamentary Privilege and the Speaker’s Committee on the Electoral Commission.

She has also been Shadow Minister for Justice, Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland, Shadow Minister for Women, Shadow Minister for Children an Education and Skills spokesman and Opposition Whip.

During the Thatcher and Major governments, Eleanor was Special Adviser to John MacGregor while he was serving in the Cabinet as Secretary of State for Education, Leader of the House of Commons and Secretary of State for Transport.

A graduate of Edinburgh University, where she was the first woman to be elected President of the Union, Eleanor worked as a solicitor in Edinburgh, in the City and then in industry. She was also Chairman of the Society of Conservative Lawyers.

The Epping Forest constituency comprises Loughton, Epping, Theydon Bois, Buckhurst Hill, Chigwell, Waltham Abbey and the surrounding villages. Eleanor has lived in the constituency for well over 20 years. She enjoys walking in the Forest, shopping locally and very occasionally playing golf.

UK Parliament will also be represented at the First Global Parliamentary Summit on Counter-Terrorism on 9 September by Baroness Neville-Jones, Sir Tony Lloyd MP and David Morris MP.

IPU Secretariat, Geneva/BGIPU Secretariat