PLACE DU PETIT-SACONNEX
1211 GENEVA 19, SWITZERLAND
Brussels (Belgium), 11 and 16 April 1999
The Inter-Parliamentary Council held its 164th session at the European Parliament in Brussels on 11 and 16 April 1999 with its President, Mr. M.A. Martínez (Spain), in the Chair.
1. MEMBERSHIP OF THE UNION
During its 164th session, the Council decided, on the recommendation of the Executive Committee, to reaffiliate the Parliaments of Burundi and Liberia as Members and the European Parliament as an Associate Member of the Union.
Following the recent coup d'Etat in Niger, the Council decided at its sitting of 16 April to follow developments in that country closely and revert to the question at its 165th session in Berlin with a view to taking a final decision on the possible suspension of the affiliation of the Parliament of this country to the Union.
As a result of those decisions, the Union now comprises 138 Member Parliaments and five regional international parliamentary assemblies as Associate Members (see list).
2. CO-OPERATION BETWEEN THE UNION AND THE UNITED NATIONS SYSTEM
At its second sitting, the Council took note of the report which the Secretary General presented giving an overview of the level and extent of the co-operation between the Inter-Parliamentary Union and the United Nations system. On that occasion, Mr. V. Petrovsky, Under-Secretary-General and Director-General of the United Nations Office in Geneva, addressed the Council and reiterated the wish of the Secretary-General of the United Nations to strengthen further the co-operation between the two Organisations.
The Council welcomed the interest expressed by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, the World Health Organization, the World Bank and the World Trade Organization to establish closer working relations with the IPU.
The Council further approved the texts of a Co-operation Agreement between the International Labour Organization and the IPU and of a Memorandum of Understanding on Co-operation between the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the IPU, and authorised the President of the Council and the Secretary General to sign them on behalf of the IPU.
3. CONFERENCE OF PRESIDING OFFICERS OF NATIONAL PARLIAMENTS AT UNITED NATIONS HEADQUARTERS IN THE YEAR 2000
At its second sitting, the Council took note of the report of the first meeting of the Preparatory Committee of the Conference. It also took note of the action being taken to prepare a refounding Act for the IPU for adoption on the occasion of the Conference and set up a Working Group consisting of Mr. H.R. Choudhury (Speaker of the Parliament of Bangladesh), Mr. M.M. Traoré (President of the National Assembly of Burkina Faso and Member of the IPU Executive Committee), Mrs. N. Heptulla (Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha of India and Vice-President of the IPU Executive Committee), Mr. F. Solana (President of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Senate of Mexico and Member of the IPU Executive Committee) and the heads of the National Groups of France and the United Kingdom (the two founder National Groups).
4. REPORTS OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE COUNCIL AND OF THE SECRETARY GENERAL
(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 163rd 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 228th session in Brussels.
(b) Interim report of the Secretary General on the activities of the Union since the 163rd session of the Council
At its sitting on 16 April, the Council had before it the written report of the Secretary General on the activities of the Union since the 163rd session of the Council. After hearing a presentation by the Secretary General, the Council took note of the report. The Council also endorsed the Secretary General's proposal to align the period of his next Annual Report with the calendar year.
5. MEETING OF WOMEN PARLIAMENTARIANS
On 16 April, the Council heard the report presented by Mrs. A. Hermans (Belgium) on the work of the Meeting of Women Parliamentarians which she had chaired on 10 April 1999 . The Council took note of this report.
6. SECURITY AND CO-OPERATION IN THE MEDITERRANEAN
At its second sitting, the Council considered the report on the work of the XIVth 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 Third Thematic Preparatory Meeting of the IIIrd CSCM that was held in Ljubljana (Slovenia) on 12 and 13 March 1999. In taking note of that report; the Council noted a recommendation that the question of small arms be considered at a future statutory conference.
The Council endorsed a recommendation of the parties to the CSCM process that in view of the forthcoming elections in Tunisia, that country, instead of hosting the IIIrd CSCM, would host a IVth CSCM at dates to be defined. It welcomed the invitation of the French Parliament to host the IIIrd CSCM in May 2000, it being understood that the exact date and place would be indicated at a later stage.
7. SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
At its second sitting, the Council heard the report of the Union's Committee for Sustainable Development, presented by Mrs. M. Chidzonga (Zimbabwe). The Council approved the Committee's report on its session held in Geneva from 1 to 3 March 1999. It endorsed in particular the Final Declaration adopted by the Meeting of Parliamentarians on the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification organised by the Secretariat of the Convention (UNCCD) and sponsored by the IPU and a Statement on tourism and the imperatives of sustainable development to be submitted to the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. In its report, the Committee recommended that the issue of international financial flows and sustainable development and the issue of climatic change be considered at a future statutory Conference or addressed in any other appropriate way by the Inter-Parliamentary Union. It also indicated that it would meet henceforth informally at each September/October statutory Conference where its members could contribute to the debates of the IIIrd Committee (on Economic and Social Questions) and where they would focus on preparing the next annual session of the Committee for Sustainable Development and, particularly, on setting its agenda on the basis of proposals by the Secretary General.
On the same occasion, the Council endorsed the report of the Second Tripartite Meeting of Representatives of Parliaments, Governments and Inter-Governmental Organisations (held at United Nations Headquarters, New York, on 30-31 March 1999) on the follow-up of the World Summit for Social Development.
8. HUMAN RIGHTS OF PARLIAMENTARIANS
On 16 April, the Council observed a minute of silence in memory of Mr. H. Batalla (Uruguay), a former President of the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians who had passed away in October 1998. It then heard Mr. F. Autain (France), President of the Committee, reporting on the work carried out by the Committee at its 84th and 85th sessions, which took place respectively in Geneva from 1 to 4 February and in Brussels from 10 to 15 April 1999.
The Council then adopted without a vote resolutions concerning 404 serving or former MPs in the following 14 countries: Burundi, Cambodia, Chad, Colombia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Gambia, Guinea, Honduras, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nigeria, Togo and Turkey.
9. SITUATION IN CYPRUS
At its second sitting, the Council heard Mrs. Y. Loza (Egypt) on the activities of the three-member Group of Facilitators, for which she is the Moderator. It endorsed that body's suggestion to continue facilitating contacts between representatives of Greek and Turkish Cypriot political parties while adjourning for the time being the holding of discussions involving the representatives of the three Guarantor Powers, Greece, Turkey and the United Kingdom.
10. MIDDLE EAST QUESTIONS
At its sitting on 16 April, the Council had before it the report of the Committee on Middle East Questions, presented by its Rapporteur, Mr. A. Philippou (Cyprus). After interventions by the representatives of Palestine and Jordan, and replies by the Rapporteur and the President of the Committee, the Council took note of the Committee's report.
11. INTERNATIONAL HUMANITARIAN LAW
On 16 April, the Council heard Mrs. B. Mugo (Kenya) on the stage reached with different projects initiated by the Committee to Promote Respect for International Humanitarian Law (see Section E.5). The Council noted that 67 of the 135 States that signed the Ottawa Convention on Antipersonnel Mines had ratified it, a proportion far in excess of the number of ratifications (40) required for the Convention to take effect.
12. GENDER PARTNERSHIP GROUP
The Council heard at its second sitting the report of the Group's Moderator, Mrs. N. Heptulla (India), on the Group's deliberations in Brussels. It approved a resolution proposed by the Group which inter alia invited the Parliaments of those countries which had no women members to take steps to encourage women's access to Parliament.
13. RESULTS OF THE INTER-PARLIAMENTARY CONFERENCE ON "ATTAINING THE WORLD FOOD SUMMIT'S OBJECTIVES THROUGH A SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT STRATEGY"
At its second sitting on 16 April, the Council adopted a resolution on the results of the IPU Conference held in Rome from 29 November to 2 December 1998 with the support of the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations and hosted by the Italian Parliament. The resolution was presented by Mrs. M. Chidzonga (Zimbabwe) on behalf of the Union's Committee for Sustainable Development (see Annex XIV by which the Council endorsed the Final Document of the Conference).
14. FINANCIAL RESULTS FOR 1998
At its second sitting, the Council had before it the financial results of the Union for 1998 and the report of the External Auditor. It heard the report by its own Auditors, Mrs. Z. Rios Montt (Guatemala) and Mrs. T. Yariguina (Russian Federation) presented by the former and approved the Union's accounts for 1998 and the Secretary General's financial administration for that year.
15. FUTURE INTER-PARLIAMENTARY MEETINGS
At its second sitting, the Council approved the Executive Committee's recommendations concerning the agenda of the 102nd Inter-Parliamentary Conference to be held in Berlin from 10 to 16 October 1999 as well as the list of observers to be invited to that meeting.
The Council took note that, as the Meeting of Women Parliamentarians had become an official part of the statutory sessions, there would henceforth be no separate inaugural ceremony for that meeting and that the Conference inaugural ceremony in Berlin would take place on Sunday, 10 October at 7 p.m.
The Council took note of the calendar of future meetings.
It approved the modalities for the Forum on the theme "Perspectives on Democracy: How Women Make a Difference", organised by IPU and UNESCO with the UN Division for the Advancement of Women, to be held from 1 to 3 December 1999 at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris. It appointed Mrs. F. Kéfi (Tunisia), Mr. C.S. Park (Republic of Korea) and a French parliamentarian to serve on the Preparatory Committee of that event.
On the proposal of the Executive Committee, the Council decided to grant the Union's sponsorship to the following meetings: (i) Meeting of IPU National Groups from the Asia-Pacific Region, Ulan Bator (Mongolia), July 1999; (ii) Third International Forum on "Parliaments and Local Authorities: Tourism Policy-Makers", organised by the World Tourism Organization and hosted by the Brazilian Inter-Parliamentary Group in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) in November 1999, and (iii) the Second Meeting of Parliamentarians on the Convention to Combat Desertification, organised by the Secretariat of the Convention in Recife (Brazil) in November 1999.
Furthermore, the Council asked the Secretary General to pursue discussions with the relevant organisations and submit specific recommendations at the next session with a view to the possible holding of (i) a parliamentary meeting on the occasion of UNCTAD X, February 2000; and (ii) a dialogue between Parliaments and the World Trade Organization in the first half of 2000.
16. QUESTIONS RELATING TO THE STATUTES AND RULES OF THE UNION
At its first sitting, the Council had before it the proposal of the Executive Committee to amend Article 22(h) of the Statutes and to adopt regulations concerning the participation of observers at IPU meetings. Having decided to recommend that the Conference adopt the amendment to the Statutes, the Council approved the regulations proposed by the Executive Committee.
At its second sitting, the Council approved the Rules established by the Meeting of Women Parliamentarians under Article 23 of the Statutes.
At that same sitting, the Council endorsed the interpretation of Article 20(4) of the Statutes which the Secretary General presented at the request of the Executive Committee that, in the event that the President of the Inter-Parliamentary Council loses his or her national parliamentary mandate, the transfer of the exercise of the President's functions to the Vice-President of the Executive Committee shall be immediate. The Council also endorsed the suggestion that a President who has thus lost the parliamentary mandate may be invited to the next session of the Inter-Parliamentary Council in order that he/she may have the opportunity to report to the Council on his/her activities as President of the Council between the last session and the date of loss of mandate.