1211 GENEVA 19

Seoul (Republic of Korea), 10, 12 and 15 April 1997


  1. Agenda
  2. Membership of the Union
  3. Activity reports
  4. Major revision of the Union's structures and working methods
  5. Co-operation with the United Nations system
  6. Results and follow-up of the Specialised Inter-Parliamentary Conference on the theme "Towards Partnership between Men and Women in Politics"
  7. Results of the Parliamentarians' Day on the occasion of the World Food Summit
  8. Results of the Central Asian and Kazakhstan Inter-Parliamentary Workshop on the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child
  9. Security and co-operation in the Mediterranean
  10. Activities of women parliamentarians
  11. Human rights of parliamentarians
  12. Sustainable development
  13. Situation in Cyprus
  14. Middle East questions
  15. Financial results for 1996
  16. Future inter-parliamentary meetings
  17. Amendment to Rule 53 of the Staff Rules and Regulations

The Inter-Parliamentary Council held its 160th session in the National Assembly of the Republic of Korea on 10, 12 and 15 April 1997. Its President, Mr. A.F. Sorour (Egypt), presided over the first two sittings and, in his absence, the third sitting was chaired by Mr. G. Haarde (Iceland), Vice-President of the Executive Committee.


At the start of its work on the morning of 10 April, the Council first adopted the agenda proposed by the Executive Committee at its 223rd and 224th sessions.


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 Cambodia, Georgia and Tajikistan and, at its third sitting, that presented by the Parliament of Niger.

Also at its first sitting, the Council was informed by its President of the advice of the Executive Committee concerning the status of Palestine in the Union. The Committee had concluded that a request for affiliation which had just been received from the Palestine National Council contained no new element which could lead the Committee to change the conclusion it had reached in Beijing when it had decided that an earlier communication on the same subject could not be considered admissible as a request for affiliation under the Statutes and Rules of the IPU. After a debate, the Council decided by 48 votes to 36, with 16 abstentions to reject the advice of the Executive Committee. In a second vote, the Council decided by 83 votes to 25, with 1 abstention to adjourn consideration of the question to an additional sitting on Saturday 12 April, when members of the Council would be in possession of the necessary documentation. At that meeting, two motions were presented to the Council, one by Mr. A. Radi (Morocco) to proceed to vote on the request for membership, and the other from Mr. C.S. Park (Republic of Korea) to " welcome the membership as soon as possible of the legislative body which represents the Palestinian people, establish a Committee composed of one representative from each of the five major geopolitical groups within the IPU and entrust this Committee with proposing the means of achieving this objective in a manner which is consonant with the Union's Statutes and with principles of international law ". The President put first to the vote the motion presented by Mr. Park under the terms of Council Rule 26.1(b), it being understood that those who wished to vote in favour of the motion presented by Mr. Radi would vote against Mr. Park's motion. By roll-call vote, the Council approved the motion presented by Mr. Park by 106 votes to 51, with 20 abstentions. At its last sitting, the Council was informed that the geopolitical groups had designated their representatives on the Committee as follows: Mr. A. Azevedo (Angola - for the African Group), Mrs. T. Faisal (Jordan - for the Arab Group), Mrs. L. Fischer (Germany - for the Twelve Plus Group), Mr I. Moreira Barros (Chile - for the Latin American Group) and Mr. C.S. Park (Republic of Korea - for the Asia-Pacific Group).

At the additional sitting, the Council also considered the situation of the National Group of Belarus. It had before it the report of the Executive Committee which noted that a new Constitution had been promulgated in Belarus and that a new National Assembly had been established, through a process whose legality was questioned. It also noted that the earlier Supreme Council elected in May 1995 was no longer able to function. In those circumstances, it considered that the National Group reconstituted within the new National Assembly did not meet the conditions required in Article 3.2 of the Statutes for membership of the Union and consequently recommended to the Inter-Parliamentary Council that it suspend the affiliation of the National Group of Belarus, while deciding to revert in due time to the situation of the Group of Belarus in the light of developments concerning representative institutions in that country. After a debate, the Council decided by 91 votes to 31, with 36 abstentions to suspend the affiliation of Belarus and to resume the study of the situation of this Group when having before it a further report of the Executive Committee. At the third sitting, and after a further discussion during which four speakers took the floor, the Acting President ruled that the Council had already taken a decision which could not now be overturned. At the same time, he gave every assurance that the Executive Committee would closely monitor the situation and that it intended to revert to the subject at its meeting in Cairo.

The Council also considered the situation of the National Assembly of Burundi, whose affiliation had been suspended in September 1996 following the coup d'Etat of 25 July 1996, in the hope that representative institutions would rapidly be restored in that country. On the basis of the Executive Committee's report, the Council took note of two decree laws enacted by the de facto Head of State which introduced changes in the Basic Laws of the country reducing the power and competence of the National Assembly and greatly affecting its functioning, and of the fact that, of the 81 members of the National Assembly elected in June 1993, 12 had been killed in total impunity and that, following intimidatory measures, more than 30 others had gone into exile and that therefore less than half of the representatives of the people were living inside the country. Considering that the National Assembly had only met very briefly and had itself noted that it was not in a position to function, the Council deeply regretted that the restoration of the National Assembly was no more than a purely formal measure, and called urgently for the restoration of constitutional order and the rule of law as well as for the full and effective re-establishment of the parliamentary institution in Burundi.

As a result of those decisions, the Union now comprises 138 member Parliaments and three Associate Members.


(a) Report by the President of the Council

At its third sitting, the Council took note of the written report by the President on his activities and contacts since the 159th session.

At the same sitting, the Council also heard the oral report of the Acting President on the activities of the Executive Committee in the context of its 224th session in Seoul. Four speakers took the floor to express their views relating to the Council's decision to suspend the affiliation of the Group of Belarus, after which the Council took note of the report presented by the Acting President.

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

At its sitting on 15 April, the Council had before it the written report of the Secretary General on the life and work of the Union since the last Conference. After hearing a very brief oral presentation by the Secretary General, the Council took note of the report.


At its third sitting, the Council had before it the report of the Executive Committee on this question, presented by Mr. C.S. Park (Republic of Korea). The report contained the Executive Committee's tentative conclusions after having studied the responses which 41 National Groups had submitted during the survey carried out after the meeting in Beijing. After a short discussion, the Council took note of the report which showed that National Goups are unanimous in their commitment to the IPU and to strengthening the Union as it enters the 21st century and they overwhelmingly favour reinforcing the parliamentary voice on the international scene. In their replies to the survey, the Union's members had provided a wealth of suggestions for strengthening the Union, its structures and working methods, but had also underscored the need to ensure fiscal frugality. The Executive Committee intended to pursue the exercise by taking a gradual approach and looking at clusters of issues that can and need to be examined together, starting with the Union's co-operation with the United Nations. The survey had demonstrated that National Groups were unanimous in support of the notion that IPU should strengthen its co-operation with the United Nations which necessarily will involve a more permanent presence at UN Headquarters by members of parliaments who can represent the IPU. As this will require an adequate minimum administrative support, the Executive Committee will consider the question of the opening of an IPU Office at UN Headquarters in New York and report on this matter at the next session (September 1997).


At its third sitting, the Council heard an oral report by the Secretary General on all aspects of the growing co-operation between the IPU and the United Nations System which was followed by a debate in which delegates expressed their satisfaction with the way in which the relationship between the two organisations was developing.

The Council also had before it the drafts of the Agreements of Co-operation with UNESCO, FAO and UNDP which had been worked out in consultation with those organisations in recent months, the first in response to a recommendation made by the joint IPU-UNESCO Conference in June 1996 on " Education, Science, Culture and Communication on the Eve of the 21st Century " and the second in the light of the Parliamentarians' Day held on the occasion of the World Food Summit in October 1996. The draft Agreement with UNDP will make the Union an executing agency for the various technical co-operation projects funded by that institution and will greatly facilitate and accelerate the administrative side of such ventures. The Council authorised the signature of these Agreements.


At its third sitting, the Council had before it the Concluding Statement on the outcome of the Conference delivered by its President at the end of its work, as well as the comparative world survey and map entitled " Men and Women in Politics: Democracy still in the Making " based on the world-wide enquiry carried out at its request in 1996. In the absence of a delegation of India, the Council heard two members of the Preparatory Committee for the New Delhi Conference, the Acting Council President and Mrs. F. Kéfi (Tunisia), President of the Co-ordinating Committee of Women Parliamentarians, concerning the work of the New Delhi Conference. Mrs. Kéfi also reported on the presentation made by herself and Mrs. N. Heptulla (India), Vice-President of the New Delhi Conference, on that event to the UN Commission on the Status of Women in New York in March 1997. The Council also had before it a draft resolution on the results and follow-up of the Conference prepared by the Meeting of Women Parliamentarians, which was presented by the Rapporteur, Mrs. A. Poli Bortone (Italy). After a short debate, the Council adopted the draft resolution.


At its third sitting, the Council received the report of the Parliamentarians' Day held in the Italian Senate in Rome on 15 November 1996 on the occasion of the World Food Summit organised by FAO, presented by Mrs. A. Poli Bortone (Italy). The Council adopted the draft resolution on this question.


At its sitting on 15 April, the Council took note of a report on the work of this Workshop, presented by Mr. H. Kemppainen (Finland), including the Final Declaration of the Workshop entitled " Priority Actions to promote the Rights of Children in Central Asia and Kazakhstan  ".


At its sitting on 15 April, the Council had before it a report on the work of the Xth meeting of the representatives of the parties to the CSCM process, presented by Mr. A. Michel (Monaco). Having heard the position of the delegation of Turkey concerning the invitation of the National Group of Cyprus to host in July 1998 in Nicosia a thematic meeting on the question of stability in the Mediterranean, the Council noted the lack of consensus that is required for decisions within the CSCM process. It thus invited the parties to the process to hold further consultations with a view to resolving this issue. The Council took note of the report.


At its third sitting, the Council took note of the oral report by the President of the Meeting of Women Parliamentarians held on 9 April 1997, Mrs. Kwon Young-ja, Member of the National Assembly of the Republic of Korea. She described the work of the Meeting, mentioning the various topics discussed. She expressed the satisfaction of the women MPs that the New Delhi Specialised Conference had brought together an equal number of men and women MPs and their deep regret in noting that they accounted for barely 11.7 percent of all of the world's MPs and that only 17 of the 238 existing parliamentary chambers were presided over by a woman. She stressed the desire of the women MPs to ensure that the concept of partnership between men and women took on concrete form at the national level and within the Inter-Parliamentary Union, which was why the participants had worked out a draft resolution reflecting this desire. The President noted that the women MPs had discussed the sexual exploitation of children and that they intended to look into, at their session in Cairo on 10 September 1997, the question of the consequences of armed conflicts on women and children as well as the challenges and prospects with regard to women's access to parliament. She also reported that Mrs. Loza (Egypt) had been elected to the Co-ordinating Committee of Women Parliamentarians.


On 15 April, Mr. H. Battalla (Uruguay), President of the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians, reported to the Council on the work carried out by the Committee at its 76th session held in Geneva from 27 to 30 January and its 77th session which took place in Seoul from 9 to 15 April 1997.

On the proposal of the Committee's President, the Council members first rose to observe one minute of silence in memory of their colleagues in various countries who had been assassinated, thus suffering the ultimate violation of human rights. The Council then adopted without a vote resolutions concerning 123 serving or former MPs in 12 countries: Albania, Burundi, Cambodia, Colombia, Gambia, Guatemala, Honduras, Indonesia, Myanmar, Nigeria, Togo and Turkey. The presentation of the Committee's report on one of the cases gave rise to comments from the delegation of Guatemala. The Committee's President also withdrew the draft resolution the Committee had prepared on one case in Tunisia since it had received from the Tunisian delegations last-minute information on positive developments relating to the case which, according to its procedure, it would have to examine and on which it would report at the Council's next session. Moreover, with regard to a case in Maldives, the Council decided, on the proposal of the Committee, to close the public examination of this case.


At its additional sitting on Saturday 12 April, the Council considered the report of the Committee for Sustainable Development which was presented by its President, Mr. N. Chitty La Roche (Venezuela). The Committee had met at the Union's Headquarters from 13 to 15 March 1997 to address a wide range of issues and to prepare the Union's contribution to the Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly to review and appraise the implementation of Agenda 21. After hearing the report, the Council adopted by consensus the Overall review of parliamentary action to implement Agenda 21 which the Committee had prepared. It equally adopted by consensus the Statement on Parliament as a " Major Group " and requested that these two documents by forwarded to the United Nations. The Council requested the Secretary General to pursue his negotiations with the United Nations to ensure that a representative of the Council be able to address the Special Session and recommended that parliamentarians be included in national delegations attending the UNGA Special Session.

The Council also endorsed a series of recommendations of the Committee for future action by Parliaments and the IPU in the field of sustainable development. Finally, the Council approved the Committee's recommendation that the vacancy which had occurred as a result of the departure of Mr. Sorkoh (Kuwait) who was no longer a member of parliament, should be filled by a candidate from the Central Asian region.


At its sitting on 15 April, 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 three of the Committee's recommendations, but those proposals were rejected overwhelmingly by the Council. The Council took note of the Committee's report and endorsed its recommendations.


At its third sitting, the Council heard the report of the Committee on Middle East Questions, presented by Mr. J. Baumel (France), in the absence of the Committee's President, Mr. D. Sow (Senegal). After hearing a statement by the representative of Palestine, the Council approved the Committee's report.


At its sitting on 15 April, the Council had before it the financial results of the Union for 1996 and the report of the External Auditor. It heard the oral report of its own auditors, Mr. B. Godana (Kenya) and Mr. J. Wiatr (Poland), presented by the latter. Following a debate, the Council approved the Union's accounts for 1996 and the Secretary General's financial administration for that year.


At its third sitting, the Council approved the Executive Committee's recommendations concerning the agenda of the 98th Conference which will be held in Cairo (Egypt) from 11 to 15 September 1997, as well as the list of observers to be invited to that meeting.

The Council took note of the calendar of future meetings and, on the proposal of the Executive Committee, decided to grant the Union's sponsorship to the Conference on "Governance for Sustainable Growth", organised by UNDP at UN Headquarters in New York from 28 to 30 July 1997 and the Conference on "Reining in Impunity for International Crimes and Serious Violations of Human Rights", organised by the International Human Rights Law Institute in Syracuse, (Italy) in September 1997.


At its third sitting, the Council approved the proposal of the Executive Committee to amend Rule 53 of the Union's Staff Rules so as to give the option to staff members recruited before 1 May 1996 to change their retirement age from 60 to 62 years, the latter being the normal retirement age for staff recruited on or after 1 May 1996.

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