Resolution adopted without a vote by the Council of the Inter-Parliamentary Union
at its 166th session (Amman, 6 May 2000)

The Inter-Parliamentary Council,

Recalling the decision of the Council's 158th session (Istanbul, April 1996) concerning the "Use of modern computer technologies, such as the Internet, for inter-parliamentary communications", which effectively launched the Union into the age of electronic information exchange and interaction through the world's largest computer network, the Internet,

Conscious of the success of the IPU's World Wide Web site (http://www.ipu.org) which, since its launch in July 1996, has become an indispensable tool for dissemination of parliamentary information on the Internet,

Noting with satisfaction that the number of parliamentary Web sites has rapidly grown over recent years and that nearly two-thirds of national legislative assemblies currently operate their own Web sites, often separately for each parliamentary chamber in bicameral parliaments,

Concerned at the same time that striking inequalities persist in the distribution of parliamentary Web sites between different continents and regions of the world and that parliaments aspiring to have access to the Internet and operate their own Web sites often lack essential know-how and necessary material resources,

Mindful that one of the main functions of the IPU Web site is to be a "universal parliamentary relay on the Web" facilitating navigation between the sites of different parliaments and, whenever possible, supplementing general parliamentary information available on the IPU site with the more detailed data placed on national sites,

Noting that the overall efficiency of this function is seriously hampered by the fact that not all national parliaments have their own Web sites and that lack of harmonisation of the content and structure of such sites often makes it impossible to obtain first-source information and to compile comparative data quickly and reliably,

Convinced that practical usefulness of parliamentary Web sites for legislators and broader circles of Internet users alike would be much enhanced if a certain degree of harmonisation of information placed on national parliamentary Web sites were achieved through the concerted efforts of the parliaments concerned,

Also convinced that the implementation of such harmonisation practices should be carried out gradually and with full respect of the inherent diversity of political systems and practices, as well as of language and cultural traditions of each country,

Believing that IPU has a natural role to play in this regard as a policy-setting body and as a mechanism for practical co-ordination between national parliaments,

  1. Encourages all national parliaments to enhance their presence on the Internet and make best use of this communication medium, in particular the World Wide Web, in order to foster the visibility and accessibility of representative institutions and to promote democracy;

  2. Resolves that IPU should lead the way in the process of harmonisation of the content and structure of parliamentary Web sites and, to that end, approves the "Guidelines for the content and structure of parliamentary Web sites";

  3. Invites all national parliaments to follow the Guidelines as fully as possible;

  4. Entrusts the IPU Secretary General with the preparation of regular surveys on progress achieved in implementing the Guidelines;

  5. Decides henceforth that assistance to parliaments in matters of modern communication technologies, such as the Internet, should be part of the Union's overall strategy for the promotion of representative institutions;

  6. Stresses that particular attention in this regard should be paid to the parliaments of developing countries, especially in Africa, that aspire to create their own Web sites and need practical assistance both in terms of content and engineering aspects;

  7. Requests the IPU Secretary General to pursue contacts with UNESCO in order to pool intellectual and financial resources of the two Organisations in the preparation of a joint publication addressing the impact of information technologies on legislative institutions and the need for a legal, socio-economic and ethical framework ensuring access to cyberspace for all.

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