Beijing (China), 16 and 21 September 1996


  1. Agenda
  2. Membership of the Union
  3. Activity reports
  4. Major revision of the Union's structures and working methods
  5. Agreement of co-operation between the Union and the United Nations
  6. Results of the joint IPU-UNESCO Conference on "Education, science, culture and communication on the eve of the 21st Century"
  7. Results of the Tri-partite meeting on follow-up to the World Summit for Social Development
  8. Security and co-operation in the Mediterranean
  9. Activities of women parliamentarians
  10. Human rights of parliamentarians
  11. Situation in Cyprus
  12. Middle East questions
  13. International humanitarian law
  14. Programme and budget for 1997
  15. Future inter-parliamentary meetings

The Inter-Parliamentary Council held its 159th session in the Beijing International Convention Centre on 16 and 21 September 1996 with its President, Dr. A.F. Sorour (Egypt), in the Chair.


At the start of its work on the morning of 16 September, the Council first adopted the agenda proposed by the Executive Committee at its 222nd and 223rd sessions.

It then considered a request by the Canadian Group for the inclusion of a supplementary item concerning "Changes to the titles of Committees pursuant to the amendments to the Statutes and Rules at the Istanbul Conference (April 1996)". In conformity with the provisions of Council Rule 13, the Executive Committee had considered this request at its 223rd session and had decided to express a negative opinion to the Council concerning the addition of this item to the agenda. After hearing statements from the sponsors and one delegate holding a contrary opinion, the Council decided by 18 votes in favour, 47 against, with 17 abstentions, not to include the proposed item in the agenda.


At its first sitting, the Council decided, on the recommendation of the Executive Committee, to accept the requests for affiliation to the Union presented by the Parliaments of Guinea, Kyrgyzstan and Mauritius. However, also on the recommendation of the Executive Committee and on the basis of the provisions of Article 4.2 of the Statutes, it decided to suspend the affiliation of the Group of Burundi following the coup d'Etat of 25 July 1996, hoping nonetheless that representative institutions would be rapidly restored in that country.

As a result of that decision, the Union now comprises 135 member Parliaments and three Associate Members.


(a) Report by the President of the Council

At its first sitting, the Council took note of the written report by the President on his activities and contacts since the 158th session.

At both sittings, the Council also took note of the oral report of the President on the activities of the Executive Committee in the context of its 223rd session in Beijing. In particular, the President informed the Council on 20 September that the Working Group set up to study the communication from the Speaker of the Palestine National Council to the 93rd Conference (April 1995) concerning the situation of Palestine in the IPU had met in Beijing, where it had received a comprehensive file in answer to a number of precise questions that had been put to the Palestine National Council. After hearing the Working Group's report on 19 September, the Executive Committee had decided that the situation as it stood at that stage and as set out in the documents did not allow it to consider the communication admissible as a request for affiliation to the Union under the Statutes and Rules of the IPU. Welcoming the fact that, during the Beijing Conference, the Union had for the first time been able to bring the Palestinian and Israeli delegations together around the same table, the President expressed the hope that there would be future opportunities within the IPU to further enhance and deepen the dialogue between the two parties in the interests of the Middle East peace process.

(b) Annual report of the Secretary General on the activities of the Union

At its first sitting, the Council had before it the written report of the Secretary General on the activities of the Union in the last year and on the activities of the National Groups during the same period. After hearing an oral presentation by the Secretary General, in which he described the various activities of the Union and its members and the Union's external relations, particularly with international organizations and its new presence on the Internet, the Council took note of the report.


At its second sitting, the Council had before it the proposals of the Executive Committee and the latter's Working Group which had met at IPU Headquarters on 26 and 27 July 1996 to consider a possible major restructuring of the Union and its working methods. The proposals before the Council included a survey designed to canvass the views of the Union's members on a number of fundamental questions and were based on two fundamental considerations: (i) that the restructuring should ensure a more permanent presence of the IPU on the world scene with possibilities to adopt positions on major issues confronting the world as and when they occur while considering them in greater depth; and (ii) that this objective should be attained without at the same time causing any significant increase in the Union's budget.

Following a debate in which several delegations expressed general interest for this exercise and asked for clarifications on certain points, the President strongly urged all the Union's members to give the survey the close attention it deserved and to send to the Union's Secretariat their replies and observations so that a comprehensive report containing the views of all National Groups on this question can be considered by the Executive Committee at its next session in April 1997.


At the second sitting, the Council had before it the text of the Agreement of Co-operation between the UN and IPU which had been signed by the Council President, the UN Secretary-General and the IPU Secretary General at UN Headquarters on 24 July 1996. In the discussion it was stressed that the Agreement ushered in a new era in relations between the two Organizations and that it was for the Union's members to give substance to the provisions of this text. The Council then agreed on measures designed to ensure that, when the item on co-operation between the UN and the IPU comes up in the UN General Assembly later this year, there will be a concerted and co-ordinated expression of support for the subject on the part of Permanent Representatives to the UN, with a view to the General Assembly passing a resolution asking the UN Secretary-General to report at the next year's session concerning the implementation of the agreement.


At its second sitting, the Council had before it the Final Document of the Conference and a draft resolution presented by the Groups of Egypt, France, Senegal and Uruguay concerning follow-up to the Conference. After a brief debate, the Council adopted the draft resolution in which it endorsed the conclusions of the Conference and requested the Secretary General to enter into negotiations with UNESCO with a view to the preparation of an agreement of co-operation between the IPU and UNESCO and to report on this matter to the Union's governing bodies at their next session.


At its second sitting, the Council received the report of the Tri-partite Meeting held at UN Headquarters in New York on 5 and 6 September 1996, presented by Mrs. V. Furubjelke (Sweden), who had chaired the meeting which had brought together members of Parliament and representatives of Governments and international organizations. The Council approved the findings and recommendations formulated by the Executive Committee on the basis of the work carried out by the meeting.


At its sitting on 21 September, the Council had before it a report on the work of the IXth meeting of representatives of the parties to the CSCM process, presented by Mr. A. Michel (Monaco). The Council took note of the report and, in particular, of the fact that the parties had amended the criteria to become a main participant in the process and had admitted two Parliaments in that category. The Council also took note of the arrangements made to prepare the IIIrd Inter-Parliamentary Conference on Security and Co-operation in the Mediterranean and its preparatory meetings which the Council had included in the Union's work programme last April.


At its sitting on 21 September 1996, the Inter-Parliamentary Council heard a report on the results of the Meeting of Women Parliamentarians held in Beijing on Sunday, 15 September under the presidency of Mrs. Chen Muhua, Vice-President of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress of China. The report was presented by Mrs. Wang Suxhian, also Vice-President of the NPC's Standing Committee. The Council took note of the fact that the women parliamentarians had taken stock of the national activities to follow up the Beijing Platform for Action, adopted by the Fourth World Conference on Women, and of the Plan of Action to correct present imbalances in the participation of men and women in political life and the Beijing Parliamentary Declaration, adopted by the Union within the framework of its contribution to this governmental conference. It also noted that they had discussed at length the topic of "Poverty and extreme poverty: women as victims of this phenomenon and as key actors in its eradication".

They laid before the Inter-Parliamentary Council recommendations concerning various aspects of the functioning of the specialized Conference on "Towards partnership between men and women in politics"; these recommendations were subsequently adopted by the Council. The women MPs strongly hoped that the specialized Conference would be attended by as many men as women. Lastly, the Council took note of the fact that, in the light of the work done by the World Congress held in Stockholm in late August 1996, the women MPs wished to discuss the question of "Education as a means to prevent the sexual exploitation of children" at their next session, on 9 April 1997 in Seoul.


On 21 September, Mr. N. Anastasiades (Cyprus), President of the Committee, reported to the Council on the work carried out by the Committee at its 74th session held in Geneva from 15 to 18 July and its 75th session which took place in Beijing from 15 to 20 September 1996.

On the proposal of the Committee, the Council adopted without a vote resolutions concerning 109 serving or former MPs in 13 countries: Albania, Burundi, Cambodia, Colombia, Gambia, Guatemala, Honduras, Indonesia, Myanmar, Nigeria, Togo, Tunisia and Turkey. The presentation of the Committee's report on three of the cases gave rise to comments from the delegations of Indonesia, Togo and Tunisia. The delegation of Indonesia declared its disagreement with the resolutions on two Indonesian former members of parliament, requesting that this be formally noted, whereas the delegation of Tunisia did the same with respect to one member of the Chamber of Deputies in Tunisia.

At the close of his report, the Council endorsed Mr. Anastasiades' proposal that all delegations formally table the Committee's report in their respective parliaments as part of the official records. The Chairman of the Committee also suggested that each National Group "adopt" a few cases before the Council and systematically follow up on the Council's recommendations with respect to them. Noting that Mr. Anastasiades' mandate on the Committee expired at the Beijing session, the President paid tribute to his contribution over the years to the defence of the human rights of parliamentarians.


At its sitting on 21 September, the Council had before it the report containing the views and recommendations of the Committee to Monitor the Situation in Cyprus presented by its President, Mr. H. Kemppainen (Finland). The delegation of Turkey wished amendments to be made to a number of the Committee's findings; the Council however ruled that it was not for it to amend the Committee's findings but that it could only modify the recommendations. The delegation of Turkey did not object to the Committee's recommendations. The Council took note of the Committee's report and endorsed its recommendations.


At its second sitting, the Council heard the report of the Committee on Middle East Questions, presented by Mr. M.A. Martinez (Spain). In its report, the Committee welcomed the fact that, for the first time, the representatives of certain Arab delegations and the Israeli delegation appeared together before it, and that this meeting could be viewed as a significant step in itself encouraging the Union to continue its efforts to promote peace in the Middle East. Following a brief discussion, the Council approved the Committee's report.


At its second sitting, the Council had before it the report and recommendations of the Committee to Promote Respect for International Humanitarian Law. The Committee, whose members are the officers of the IInd Committee (on Parliamentary, Juridical and Human Rights Questions), had met under the presidency of Mr. F. Borel (Switzerland). After hearing a report from Mr. Borel, the Council took note of the report and endorsed the Committee's conclusions and recommendations.


At its second sitting, the Council considered the Executive Committee's proposals for the programme and budget of the Union for 1997, presented by Mr. G. Haarde (Iceland), Rapporteur of the Executive Committee. In his presentation, Mr. Haarde reported that the Executive Committee proposed the following changes in relation to the original budget estimates: (i) that an additional SF. 70,000 be allocated for the specialized Conference in New Delhi since it would not be known until very shortly before that meeting whether external funding would be forthcoming; (ii) that an additional appropriation of SF.10,000 be provided for the Committee for Sustainable Development, in the light of the Council's decision to increase its membership by two; (iii) to delete a provision of SF. 30,000 following the Council's decision on 16 September to abolish the Consultative Committee of Experts of the Programme for the Study and Promotion of Representative Institutions and to reallocate its tasks to other bodies; and (iv) to draw the net increase of SF. 50,000 from the Working Capital Fund on the understanding that this sum would be repaid to the Fund should it prove possible to obtain external financing for the New Delhi Conference.

After a short debate and after hearing some clarifications provided by the Secretary General in response to questions from certain members, the Council approved the programme and budget for 1997 as proposed, amounting to SF. 9,138,500. The Council also approved the scale of contributions to the 1997 budget.


At its second sitting, the Council approved the Executive Committee's recommendations concerning the agenda of the 97th Conference which will be held in Seoul (Republic of Korea) from 10 to 15 April 1997, as well as the list of observers to be invited to that meeting.

With regard to Conferences in coming years, the Council accepted with gratitude the invitations of the Group of Namibia to host the 99th Conference in Windhoek in April 1998 and that of the Group of the Russian Federation to host the 100th Conference in Moscow in the autumn of 1998. Subject to later confirmation of the dates and the period of the year when the events will be held, the Council also gratefully accepted the invitations of the German Group to host the Conference in Berlin in 1999 and that of the Indonesian Group to host the Conference in Jakarta in 2000.

It also approved the proposals of the Meeting of Women MPs and the Executive Committee that the 1997 planned symposium should be called a Specialized Conference on the theme "Towards partnership between men and women in politics". It took note that it would now be held in New Delhi (India) from 14 to 18 February 1997 and would include, in addition to a roundtable with the media on "The Image of Women Politicians in the Media" and six Regional Workshops, additional workshops on Women's political and electoral training and Financing women's election campaigns. Furthermore, the Council decided that the Preparatory Committee of the Conference would be composed of Mr. G. Haarde (Iceland), Mrs. N. Heptulla (India), Mrs. F. Kéfi (Tunisia) and Mr. E. Menem (Argentina) and would meet at IPU Headquarters in Geneva on 8 and 9 November 1997.

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