PLACE DU PETIT-SACONNEX
1211 GENEVA 19, SWITZERLAND
Moscow (Russian Federation), 7 and 12 September 1998
The Inter-Parliamentary Council held its 163rd session at the Kremlin in Moscow on 7 and 12 September 1998 with its President, Mr. M. A. Martínez (Spain), in the Chair.
At its second sitting, the Council decided, on the recommendation of the Executive Committee, to affiliate the Central American Parliament to the Union as an Associate Member.
At the same sitting, the Council decided to suspend the affiliation of the Group of the Central African Republic which owed more than three years' contributions, while hoping that it would soon be able to regularise its financial situation and be in a position to rejoin the Union.
As a result of those decisions, the Union now comprises 136 member Parliaments and four international parliamentary associations as Associate Members.
At its first sitting, the Council considered the report of the Committee on the Question of the Affiliation of Palestine, having at its previous session deferred the examination of this report to its Moscow session. After a debate, the Council adopted by 83 votes to 63, with 37 abstentions, the conclusions of the Committee that at the present time the Palestine National Council does not fulfil the conditions laid down in Article 3 of the Statutes of the Union and that it wishes to " receive further information relating to the Palestine Legislative Council which was established under the Oslo Agreement and which functions on the territory coming under the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority, this with a view to attaining the objective sought by the Inter-Parliamentary Council".
At its second sitting, the Council adopted a proposal by the Executive Committee to strengthen the rights of the delegation of Palestine as an observer in the Union's meetings.
At its second sitting, the Council took note of the report of the Executive Committee, supplemented by information provided orally by the Secretary General, on the positive developments which had taken place since the last session in the field of co-operation between the Union and the United Nations system.
The Council noted as an indication of closer co-operation between the IPU and the United Nations system the invitation extended to the IPU to participate in the Diplomatic Conference of Plenipotentiaries of the United Nations on the creation of an International Criminal Court which took place in Rome and which the President of the Council addressed on 16 June, and the opportunity given to the President of the Council to address the General Conference of the International Labour Organisation in Geneva on 10 June 1998.
The Council welcomed the increasing co-operation between the Union and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and authorised the President of the Council and the Secretary General to sign an umbrella agreement with UNDP for a three-year programme under which the UNDP would provide funding for several of the Union's activities in support of Parliaments. It also welcomed the steps taken to conclude a co-operation agreement between the IPU and the ILO and a memorandum of understanding with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights allowing for joint activities.
The Council took note of the planned joint activities with the FAO and UNESCO under the Agreements of Co-operation already concluded with those organisations.
The Council encouraged members to attend the annual Parliamentarians' Meeting at the United Nations Headquarters on 26 October and to be present when the General Assembly considers its agenda item on co-operation with the IPU on 28 October next. In connection with the latter, members were urged to take appropriate steps in order that their respective countries' Permanent Representatives to the United Nations in New York sponsor and support the adoption of the draft resolution which will result from the consideration of this agenda item.
At its second sitting, the Council took note of the support expressed by the United Nations Secretary-General and a large number of Speakers/Presidents of Parliaments for organising a Conference of Presiding Officers of national parliaments at the United Nations in the year 2000. It affirmed the purposes of the Conference which are to provide the participants with an opportunity to express their views on how national parliaments and their world Organisation - the IPU - can work with the United Nations in the new millennium, and also to provide an opportunity for the adoption of a solemn act of the re-founding of the IPU. The Council adopted the report of the Executive Committee which included a proposal to constitute a Preparatory Committee for the Conference composed of Presiding Officers of several national parliaments and several members of the Executive Committee.
At its second sitting, the Council received a feasibility study together with the report of the Executive Committee supplemented by information provided orally by the Secretary General on developments since the last session of the Council to follow-up on the proposal to construct a new headquarters building for the Union in Geneva. After discussion, the Council adopted the report of the Executive Committee in which it expressed appreciation to the Swiss Confederation and the State of Geneva for the very favourable conditions they were prepared to offer to the Union to carry out the project and authorised the President of the Council and the Secretary General to proceed with the necessary arrangements for the construction.
(a) Report by the President of the Council
At its second sitting, the Council took note of the written report by the President on his activities and contacts since the 162nd session.
At both sittings, the Council also heard and took note of an oral report of the President on the activities of the Executive Committee in the context of its 227th session in Moscow.
At its sitting on 12 September, the Council had before it the written report of the Secretary General on the life and work of the Union during the last year. After hearing a presentation by the Secretary General, the Council took note of the report.
On 12 September, the Council heard the report presented by Mrs. T. Yariguina (Russian Federation) on the work of the Meeting of Women Parliamentarians which she had chaired on 6 September 1998. The Council took note of this report.
At its second sitting, the Council considered the report on the work of the XIIIth Meeting of the Representatives of the Parties to the CSCM Process, presented by the General Rapporteur of the CSCM, Mr. M.H. Khelil of Tunisia. The report covered the results of the Second Thematic Preparatory Meeting of the IIIrd CSCM that was held in Évora (Portugal) on 25 and 26 June 1998, of which it took note. It also took note of the final dates and the topic decided on by the parties to the process for the Third Thematic Preparatory Meeting of the IIIrd CSCM, which will be held in Ljubljana on 12 and 13 March 1999, and entered the necessary funds in the budget. The Council accepted the recommendation of the parties to the process to reschedule the IIIrd Inter-Parliamentary Conference on Co-operation and Security in the Mediterranean from 1999 to early 2000 and authorised them to continue their activities using current administrative and financial procedures until the end of the IIIrd CSCM.
On 12 September, Mr. H. Etong (Cameroon), Member of the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians, reported to the Council on the work carried out by the Committee at its 82nd and 83rd sessions which took place respectively in Geneva from 1 to 4 July and in Moscow from 6 to 11 September 1998. The Council paid tribute to Mr. H. Batalla (Uruguay), a former President of the Committee, whose membership of the Committee had expired and proceeded to fill the post which had thus become vacant.
The Council then adopted without a vote resolutions concerning 255 serving or former MPs in the following 16 countries: Argentina, Burundi, Cambodia, Chad, Colombia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Gambia, Honduras, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nigeria, Togo and Turkey. With regard to cases in Chad and Malaysia, the Council endorsed the Committee's recommendation to organise on-site missions with financing from the Working Capital Fund.
At its second sitting, the Council considered the report of the Committee to Monitor the Situation in Cyprus, which was presented by the Committee's President and Rapporteur, Mr. H. Kemppainen (Finland). It endorsed the Committee's report and the recommendation to replace the Committee with a three-member Group of Facilitators to continue contacts between the parties concerned.
At its sitting on 12 September, the Council had before it the report of the Committee on Middle East Questions, presented by its Rapporteur, Mr. C.E. Ndebele (Zimbabwe). The Council approved the Committee's report. It renewed the mandate of the Committee for a period of four years and elected three members to fill the vacancies on the Committee.
On 12 September, the Council had before it the report of the Committee to Promote Respect for International Humanitarian Law (IHL), presented by its Rapporteur, Mr. J. Hunt (New Zealand), covering the results of the world inquiry in progress on parliamentary action to promote national implementation of the rules of IHL and on the issue of anti-personnel mines. The Council renewed the mandate of the Committee for a period of four years. The Committee is composed ex officio of the three officers of the IInd Committee. On the recommendation of the Committee, the Council approved without a vote a resolution on international humanitarian law, the International Criminal Court, and anti-personnel mines.
The Council heard at its second sitting the report of the Group's Moderator, Mrs. N. Heptulla (India), who gave an account of the Group's meeting in Moscow.
At its second sitting, the Council considered the Executive Committee's proposals for the programme and budget of the Union for 1999, presented by Mrs. T. Yariguina (Russian Federation), Rapporteur of the Executive Committee. In her presentation, Mrs. Yariguina pointed out that while the budget followed its traditional format which is based mainly on the nature of expenditure, a breakdown of expenditure by area of activity had also been prepared for the information of the Council as decided by the Executive Committee.
After hearing the clarifications provided by the Secretary General in answer to questions raised by delegates from Canada and Japan, the Council approved without a vote the budget and the scale of contributions for 1999.
At its second sitting, the Council approved the Executive Committee's recommendations concerning the agenda of the 101st Inter-Parliamentary Conference which will be held in Brussels (Belgium) from 10 to 16 April 1999, as well as the list of observers to be invited to that meeting.
The Council took note of the calendar of future meetings and other activities. It approved the modalities for the Seminar on relations between majority and minority parties in African Parliaments to be organised in Libreville (Gabon) 17-19 May 1999. It authorised the President of the Council and the Secretary General to select the parliamentary representatives to participate in the proposed IInd Tripartite Meeting on the follow-up to the World Summit for Social Development on the basis of replies to a questionnaire to be sent out shortly to all Parliaments on follow-up to the Summit. Furthermore, on the proposal of the Executive Committee, the Council decided to grant the Union's sponsorship to a meeting of parliamentarians on the Convention to Combat Desertification organised by the Secretariat of the Convention in Dakar (Senegal) on 8 December 1998, and to a UNAIDS working group to prepare a handbook for legislators on how to implement international HIV/AIDS guidelines, law and human rights. The dates for this meeting have not yet been determined. The Council took note of these decisions with the proviso that they will have no financial implications for the Union.
At its first sitting, the Council had before it the proposal of the Executive Committee to introduce a new Article 23 in the Statutes in order to formalise the existence of the Meeting of Women Parliamentarians and its Co-ordinating Committee and decided to recommend that the Conference adopt the proposal. The Conference so agreed.
At its second sitting, the Council took note of a proposal submitted by the Groups of Canada, Uruguay and Namibia and by the President and two Vice-Presidents of the Co-ordinating Committee of the Meeting of Women Parliamentarians to amend Article 23 (according to the numbering in force up to 11 September) of the Statutes in order to provide that the President of this Committee shall be an ex officio member of the Executive Committee. The Council decided to consider the amendment at the first sitting of its next session in Brussels.
Also at the second sitting, the Council adopted the proposal of the Executive Committee to add a new paragraph 8 to Rule 3 of the Union's Financial Regulations to make a provision for a situation in which the Council rejects the draft budget proposed by the Executive Committee.