U.N. Headquarters, New York, 30 August - 1st September 2000
Organised by the Inter-Parliamentary Union
in cooperation with the United Nations



1. The Conference of Presiding Officers of National Parliaments has been prepared by a special Preparatory Committee established by the IPU's governing Council in September 1998. During the last 15 months, this Committee held three sessions to develop the modalities for the conference which are reflected in this explanatory note and to prepare the related Rules of Procedure and draft Declaration for the Conference.

2. This Note is sent to all Presiding Officers to assist them in preparing for their participation in the Conference. It is accompanied by the following documents:


3. The Inter-Parliamentary Union, with the support of the United Nations Secretary-General, is convening the Conference of Presiding Officers of National Parliaments at the Headquarters of the United Nations in New York from Wednesday, 30 August to Friday, 1 September 2000, in conjunction with the Millennium Assembly. The Opening Ceremony and the sittings of the Conference will take place in the General Assembly Hall.


4. Subject to changes made on the spot (in particular, an extra session may have to be added in the evening of Thursday, 31 August, depending on the number of registered speakers), the time-table for the Conference will be as follows:

Tuesday, 29 August
- 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Registration of delegations
Wednesday, 30 August
- 8.30 a.m. Registration of delegations
- 3 p.m. Inaugural ceremony
- 4 p.m. Item 2: Adoption of the agenda and practical modalities for the Conference
Item 3: The parliamentary vision for international cooperation at the dawn of the third millennium: Keynote addresses and statements by the Presiding Officers
- 6.30 p.m. Reception offered by the President of the IPU Council, Dr. Najma Akbarali Heptulla
Thursday, 31 August
- 10 a.m.and
3 p.m.
Continuation of item 3
- 6.30 p.m. Reception hosted by Mr. Kofi Annan, UN Secretary-General
Friday, 1 September
- 10 a.m.and
3 p.m.
Continuation of item 3
- 5 p.m. Item 4: Adoption of the final Declaration
Item 5: Closing ceremony of the Conference


5. The Conference of Presiding Officers will consist of the following categories of participants and observers:

(i) Participants: The Presiding Officers of all National Parliaments, including the Presiding Officers of both chambers in the case of bicameral parliaments, that are members of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, as well as Presiding Officers of national legislative assemblies that are not members of the IPU but which meet the IPU definition of a Parliament*

(ii) Observers:

  • Presiding Officers of the Palestinian Legislative Council and the Palestinian National Council;
  • Presidents of international parliamentary assemblies that are associate members of the IPU, as well as Presidents of the official parliamentary assemblies and organisations that enjoy observer status at IPU's meetings;
  • Heads of Programmes and Agencies of the United Nations system and the WTO;
  • Permanent Representatives to the United Nations in New York;
(iii) Guest speakers: A limited number of high ranking personalities will be invited to address the meeting.


6. In view of the very large number of participants expected at this Conference and given the size of the General Assembly Hall, it is foreseen that the Presiding Officer(s) may only be accompanied by a very limited number of members of parliament and/or staff. Therefore, the maximum size of the delegation from each parliament, whether unicameral or bicameral, should not exceed six persons, including the Presiding Officer(s).

7. Observer delegations shall be composed of no more than two persons, with the exception of the delegations of Palestine and of Associate Members of the IPU who shall be entitled to have the same size as the delegation from a national parliament.


8. Each delegation will have six seats in the UN General Assembly Hall, three at desks and three behind without desks. One of these seats will be reserved for the Permanent Representative in New York should he or she wish to accompany the delegation.

9. The country that will be seated in the front row will be determined by a drawing of lots, and all other delegations will follow in alphabetical order. The observers will be seated behind the parliamentary delegations.


10. The Conference will be inaugurated at 3 p.m. on Wednesday 30 August, in the presence of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr. Kofi Annan, and other eminent personalities.


11. The President of the Council of the Inter-Parliamentary Union will preside over the Conference and its opening and closing ceremonies. She will be assisted by a limited number of Presiding Officers appointed by the IPU Council who will chair the sittings devoted to the debate under item 3 of the agenda.


12. The President will be assisted by a Steering Committee which includes the Vice-President of the IPU Executive Committee, the Rapporteur appointed by the Preparatory Committee and members appointed from among the Presiding Officers by the IPU Council. The Steering Committee will meet on the eve of the Conference to finalise last minute preparations for the Conference.


13. The following Presiding Officers, Presidents and other personalities are invited to address the Conference:

(i) Presiding Officers of national parliaments, including the Presiding Officers of both Chambers in the case of bicameral parliaments;
(ii) The Presiding Officer of the Palestinian Legislative Council or the Palestinian National Council;
(iii) The Presidents of the official parliamentary assemblies that are Associate Members of the IPU;
(iv) Guest speakers.
14. A high-level global meeting of this nature automatically imposes certain limitations on speaking time. As at similar summits organised by the United Nations, each Presiding Officer shall be entitled to a strict maximum of five minutes' speaking time. In instances where both Presiding Officers from a bicameral parliament wish to address the Conference, they shall share a total of eight minutes' speaking time.

15. The Presiding Officer of the Palestinian Legislative Council or the Palestinian National Council shall be entitled to five minutes' speaking time, whereas the Presidents of the official parliamentary assemblies which are Associate Members of the IPU shall be entitled to three minutes' speaking time each.

16. Presiding Officers are invited to register their name with the Secretariat of the Inter-Parliamentary Union by 15 July 2000 at the latest by using the attached form for indicating their speaking preferences (CONF-PRES/2000/Form.2). As stated on the form, Presiding Officers are requested to indicate their first, second and third preference of sitting at which they wish to address the Conference. The Secretariat will subsequently establish a speakers list, taking into account as much as possible the preferences expressed by the Presiding Officers. This list will be sent to them on 31 July.


17. A draft declaration for the Conference has been prepared by the Preparatory Committee. As the format of the Conference does not allow for any last-minute modification to the declaration, all parliaments were invited to submit proposals for amendments to the text which were subsequently taken into account by the Preparatory Committee during the final drafting process. It is expected that the Presiding Officers will adopt this declaration without a formal vote at the close of the Conference.


18. The provisional agenda, the draft Declaration, the draft Rules of Procedure, the List of Participants, as well as the Daily Journal of the Conference proceedings prepared by the IPU Secretariat, shall be the only official documents of the Conference. These documents will be available at the documents counters located on both sides of the General Assembly Hall.

19. The provisional agenda, the draft Declaration and the draft Rules of Procedure shall be prepared and distributed in the six official languages of the United Nations. The list of Participants and the Daily Journal shall be prepared and distributed in English and French only, the two official working languages of the IPU.

20. There will be no summary record of the debates. The IPU will however subsequently produce a publication containing the full text of the speeches that were prepared. The text of those speeches which could not be delivered by a delegation present at the Conference will also be contained in this publication.

21. Information documents which delegations may wish to have distributed shall be placed on tables set aside for this purpose at the entrance to the General Assembly Hall.


22. Interpretation will be provided for the languages customarily used at meetings at the United Nations: Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish.


23. Participants and observers are kindly requested to complete the registration form (CONF-PRES/2000/Form.1) and to return it by 15 July 2000 at the latest to the Secretariat of the Inter-Parliamentary Union at the following address:

Inter-Parliamentary Union
Place du Petit-Saconnex
BP 438
1211 Geneva 19

Telephone: (4122) 919 41 50
Fax: (4122) 919 41 60
E-mail: postbox@mail.ipu.org

24. The Registration and Information Desk for the Conference will be located on the left-hand side of the visitors hall and will be open from Tuesday, 29 August. As far as possible, delegates are requested kindly to claim their badges on Tuesday in order to avoid any delay in the programme planned for the Opening Ceremony on Wednesday, 30 August. Opening hours for this service will be as follows:
  • 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, 29 August;
  • 8.30 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Wednesday, 30 August to Friday, 1 September.
25. Participants will be issued identity badges for the duration of the Conference as well as documents prepared by the IPU Secretariat. The Registration and Information Desk will also handle messages for delegates.

26. Delegations will also receive, upon registering, a provisional List of Delegates. They are kindly requested to report any changes in this List at the time of registration, or in any event not later than 1 p.m. on Thursday, 31 August, to the Secretariat office.


27. Identity badges will be issued under the responsibility of the UN Security Service on the basis of a list of delegates provided by the IPU Secretariat. The badges will be handed over to delegations at the time of their registration.

28. In the interests of overall security and to ensure freedom of movement, participants are kindly requested to display their identity badges visibly upon entering and at all times while on the premises. For security reasons, admission to the Conference facilities will be limited to those wearing identity badges. Missing identity badges should be reported without delay to the Registration and Information Service, which will inform the UN Security Service accordingly. The participants' attention is drawn to the fact that identity badges are issued by the UN Security Service and that missing badges may take some time to replace.


29. The President of the Council of the Inter-Parliamentary Union and the IPU Secretary General are hosting a reception for all delegates at the United Nations premises on 30 August 2000, from 6.30 to 8.30 p.m. The Secretary-General of the United Nations will host a reception for the delegates in the evening of 31 August 2000.


30. The UN Secretariat will act as host on UN premises and will make the usual facilities available to delegates during the session (bank, restaurant, coffee bar, medical service, post office, travel agency, etc.). However, as regards the facilities traditionally provided at IPU meetings held at the invitation of a member Parliament (particularly the reception of delegates on their arrival, their transportation and the reservation of hotel accommodation), delegations may wish to contact their Permanent Missions in New York for assistance with these matters. The Permanent Missions in New York have all been informed of the holding of this Conference. Most Missions are used to receiving national delegations to UN meetings and to handling hotel reservations for them and many have signed agreements with hotels.


31. All delegates must have valid visas for entry into the United States of America. The representatives of countries which do not have diplomatic relations with the United States of America will have to approach the United States Mission in New York either directly or through their Permanent Missions. The United States Mission has been notified accordingly; its address is as follows: United States Mission to the United Nations, 799 United Nations Plaza, New York, NY 10017-3505; telefax: (212) 415 4443. However, it has been pointed out that these procedures can take up to six weeks; therefore, it is strongly recommended that requests for visas are made well in advance of the meeting.


32. Security at UN Headquarters is the responsibility of the UN which will apply its own regulations in this respect.

Geneva, 20 March 2000

* The Inter-Parliamentary Council, in 1993, defined a parliament as a "national assembly which, according to domestic law, is endowed as a minimum with power to legislate and oversee the Executive".