IPU Logo-top   
 IPU Logo-middleInter-ParliamentParliamentary Union  
IPU Logo-bottomPlace du Petit-Saconnex, P.O. Box 438, 1211 Geneva 19, Switzerland  

Report adopted by the Council at its 170th session
(Marrakech, 23 March 2002)

The present report summarizes the background to IPUís request for observer status in the UN General Assembly. It makes suggestions relevant to the exercise of observer status, particularly as concerns to content and form of IPUís contribution to the General Assembly and who is competent to take the floor on behalf of the IPU. The report also provides additional detail regarding the financial implications for the IPU of having its official documents circulated at the UN. Finally, the report proposes a text for this year's UNGA resolution on cooperation between the UN and the IPU.


  1. The IPU Statutes define the nature, purpose and composition of the organization, its organs and its working methods. They state that the IPU shares the objectives of the United Nations, supports its efforts and works in close cooperation with it.

  2. In 1996, the United Nations and the IPU signed a cooperation agreement with the prior approval of the IPU Council. In the agreement, the IPU recognizes the responsibilities of the United Nations under the Charter and undertakes to continue to support its activities in accordance with the purposes and principles of the Charter.

  3. In 2000, the IPU organized a conference of Presiding Officers of National Parliaments at UN Headquarters. In the final declaration, which had previously been endorsed by the IPU Council, the participants called on parliaments and the IPU to provide a parliamentary dimension to international cooperation. They declared their support for the IPU and asked that it be consolidated as the world organization for inter-parliamentary cooperation and for relaying the vision and will of its members to intergovernmental organizations.

  4. These sentiments were echoed by the heads of State and government in the Millennium Declaration in which they resolved to strengthen cooperation between the UN and national parliaments, through the IPU.

  5. In order to facilitate closer cooperation between the two organizations, the UN General Assembly requested the Secretary-General, in consultation with member States and the IPU, to explore ways in which a new and strengthened relationship could be established between the IPU, the General Assembly and its subsidiary organs.

  6. As part of these consultations, the IPU Council adopted a report in which it made suggestions on how the organization could play a role in strengthening cooperation between the UN and national parliaments1. The UN Secretary-General expressed agreement with IPUís proposals in his report to the General Assembly2.

The content of IPUís contribution

  1. In its recommendations to the UN, the IPU Council suggested that the IPU could "channel to the United Nations the views of the people, in all their diversity, as expressed in parliamentary debates and discussions at the IPU." The IPU Statutes provide that it is the Inter-Parliamentary Conference that formulates the views of the organization; the "Conference debates issues which, under the terms of Article 1 of the Statutes, fall within the scope of the Union, and makes recommendations expressing the views of the organisation on these questions."3

  2. Observer status at the General Assembly would provide a means of channeling the views of the organization to the United Nations. It would confer the right to a representative of the IPU to take the floor in the regular and special sessions of the Assembly itself, in its Main Committees, in the myriad of subsidiary organs that exist throughout the United Nations system and in the international conferences organized by the United Nations. Exercising the right to take the floor would be subject to agreement by the Chair.

  3. The Representative of the IPU in his or her oral statement would need to reflect the views of the organization as expressed at IPU meetings; in other words, the recommendations developed by the participants in the relevant IPU Conferences.

IPUís participation in debates at the UN

  1. As a guiding principle, only a member of parliament should express the views of a parliamentary organization and should have received a prior mandate from the IPU for this purpose. In the past and depending on the circumstances in any particular instance, this person was either the President of the Council, the Vice-President or other member of the Executive Committee, a Speaker of Parliament of a country hosting a UN Conference or a member of an IPU Committee that had a mandate that was relevant to the debate that took place. This practice should continue.

  2. The Council will normally provide the mandate for an IPU representative to express the views of the Organisation at the United Nations. Between sessions of the Council, such a mandate can be conferred by the Executive Committee. If no parliamentarian is available, the President of the Council may authorize the Secretary General or his or her representative to speak on behalf of the IPU.

  3. All arrangements for IPU representatives to participate in debates at the UN should be made by or through the IPU Liaison Office in New York.

  4. The Secretary General of the IPU has a statutory duty to "maintain the liaison between the Union and other international organisations and, in general, its representation at international conferences." In order to carry out this function, the Secretary General or his or her representative should continue to take the floor at preparatory, organizational, technical or similar United Nations meetings and in similar meetings of committees set up by the Assembly to follow up on international conferences. In addition, the Secretary General may present reports to subsidiary bodies of the United Nations General Assembly on activities of the IPU.

Circulation of official IPU documents

  1. The IPU Council also recommended that the IPU be granted the right to circulate its official documents at the United Nations and the UN Secretary-General suggested that the General Assembly take a decision on this matter as well4. In the negotiations undertaken last year with Member States, the IPU suggested that this could be done at no extra cost to the United Nations by having the IPU reimburse the UN for any costs relating to circulation of documents in the General Assembly.

  2. In order to circulate documents at the United Nations, they would have to be translated into the six official languages at the UN (Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish). The annual cost to the IPU could be estimated at SF 35,0005.

  3. Resolutions adopted by IPU meetings should be circulated together with a table detailing the results of any votes to which they may have given rise.

This yearís UNGA resolution on cooperation with the IPU

  1. In December last year the General Assembly decided to defer further consideration and any ultimate decision on the request for observer status for the IPU to its fifty-seventh session. The Council has drawn up a draft resolution based on the text it had approved in Ouagadougou and modified to reflect the decision of the UNGA in December last year.

  2. The Council calls on all members of the IPU to approach their respective Ministry of Foreign Affairs with a view to enlisting the support of the Permanent Representative of their country in New York. The draft resolution will be formally submitted to the UNGA as soon as its 57th session commences in September this year. It is expected that the draft resolution will first be considered by the UNGA Sixth Committee before being referred to the plenary for adoption. The Council strongly encourages members of the IPU to take urgent and effective action in support of the strategy outlined above.
1 IPU doc. CL/168/8(a)-R.1.rev. of 6 April 2001.
2 UN doc. A/55/996 of 26 June 2001.
3 The Inter-Parliamentary Council is the policy-making body of the Union; it determines and guides the activities of the Union and controls their implementation in conformity with the purposes defined in the Statutes.
4 Resolutions adopted by IPU meetings should moreover be circulated, together with a table detailing the results of any votes to which they may have given rise.
5 This calculation is based on a volume of roughly 25 pages per year at US$ 800 (US$ 480 for translation, US$ 170 for text processing, and US$ 150 for reproduction and circulation).

Note: you can download a complete electronic version of the brochure "Results of the 107th Conference and related meetings of the Inter-Parliamentary Union" in PDF format (file size approximately 436K). This version requires Adobe Acrobat Reader, which you can download free of charge.Get Acrobat Reader