PLACE DU PETIT-SACONNEX
1211 GENEVA 19, SWITZERLAND
Amman (Jordan), 1 and 6 May 2000
The Council of the Inter-Parliamentary Union held its 166th session at the Zara Expo Conference Centre on 1 and 6 May 2000 with its President, Dr. N.A. Heptulla (India), in the chair.
The Council decided, on the recommendation of the Executive Committee, to reaffiliate the Parliament of Niger and to affiliate the Parliament of Guinea-Bissau to the Union.
The Council had before it the recommendations of the Executive Committee to suspend the affiliation of the Parliaments of Côte d'Ivoire, Pakistan and Sudan which had ceased to function. After each case had been considered separately, it decided to suspend the affiliation of Côte d'Ivoire, while the decision to suspend the affiliation of Pakistan was taken after recording the reservations of the delegations of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the People's Republic of China. A motion by the delegation of Egypt, supported by the delegations of Morocco and Yemen and opposed by the delegation of the Czech Republic, to defer consideration of the recommendation to suspend the affiliation of Sudan was put to a vote and was defeated with 121 votes against, 50 votes in favour, and 14 abstentions; the Executive Committee's recommendation to suspend the affiliation of Sudan was thereafter approved by the Council without a vote.
As a result of those decisions, the Union now comprises 138 Member parliaments and five international parliamentary assemblies as Associate Members.
(i) The parliamentary dimension of the UN and IPU's status at the UN
The Council took note of the Executive Committee's deliberations regarding the contents of the United Nations Secretary-General's Report to the Millennium Assembly and about a wide variety of initiatives aimed at strengthening cooperation with the UN. It heard a statement by Mr. V. Petrovsky, UN Under-Secretary-General and Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva, who had previously addressed the First Committee on 2 May on the same issue. It agreed that the Conference of Presiding Officers would offer a unique opportunity for the world parliamentary community to deliver a strong and clear message about the role of parliaments in international cooperation. Having noted the gradual deepening of the relationship between the two organisations, it asked the Secretary General to explore the possibility of the IPU being granted observer status at the UN General Assembly and present a comprehensive report on the issue at its next session in Jakarta in October. It also agreed, however, with the Executive Committee's view that this was only an intermediate step and that the long-term objective of the IPU was to play the role of a parliamentary forum or congress for the United Nations.
(ii) Economy, trade and development
The Council was informed about the preliminary discussions of the Executive Committee as to the manner in which the IPU could provide a parliamentary dimension to a variety of organisations within the UN system and to the World Trade Organisation. It took note of the results of the parliamentary meeting organised on the occasion of UNCTAD X. It endorsed the proposal that the IPU organise a global specialised conference on trade, finance and development issues in Geneva in early 2001, and requested the Secretary General to draw up appropriate plans in consultation with the European Parliament and the United States Congress, since both institutions have expressed a keen interest in working to develop a parliamentary dimension to the WTO. It further asked the Secretary General to explore the possibility that the IPU provide a parliamentary dimension to the UNDP and asked him to develop proposals to this effect in time for its next session in Jakarta. The Council also endorsed a report prepared by the IPU Secretariat on preparation for the meeting on the subject of financing for development, and agreed to the Executive Committee's recommendation that parliaments take an active interest in the preparations for the high level meeting. It also agreed that the IPU should develop further its own position on financing for development and, as a first step, placed on the Conference agenda for Jakarta an item entitled: Financing for development and a new paradigm of economic and social development designed to eradicate poverty.
(iii) Social development
The Council took note of progress made in IPU's contribution to the UN General Assembly Special Session on the follow-up to the Copenhagen World Summit on Social Development, to be held in Geneva from 26 to 30 June 2000. The Council urged all members to make every effort to ensure that the text emerging from the government negotiations make a clear reference to the role of parliaments. It also urged all parliaments to ensure that male and female parliamentarians formed part of the national delegations to the session, which is entitled "World Summit for Social Development and Beyond: Achieving Social Development for All in a Globalising World". It invited all MPs present in Geneva to attend the parliamentary briefing which the IPU would hold on 27 June on the premises of the International Labour Organisation. It noted that several other events would take place that week, including a series of panels in which Dr. Ginwala, Speaker of the Parliament of South Africa, and Dr. N.A. Heptulla, President of the IPU Council, would exchange views with a large audience of government representatives, intergovernmental organisations and non-governmental organisations.
(iv) Good governance
In its discussion of the Annual Report of the Secretary General, the Council took note of the enhanced co-operation between the UNDP and the IPU to promote good governance through the IPU Technical Assistance Programme to Parliaments.
(v) Human Rights
The Council welcomed the interest expressed by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms. M. Robinson, in closer cooperation with the IPU and noted that the preparation of a parliamentary handbook on human rights instruments was well advanced. It also applauded the High Commissioner's proposal that the IPU convene a meeting of members of parliamentary human rights bodies in Geneva in the following year. The Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians was instructed to make substantive proposals to this effect and the Secretary General was asked to prepare the corresponding budgetary appropriations for review in Jakarta. The Council also noted that the High Commissioner had called for parliamentary involvement in the preparation and follow-up of the World Conference on Combating Racism, to be hosted by South Africa in 2001. It urged all parliaments to ensure that the preparation of the conference was reviewed in an appropriate manner within each parliament and that they consider authorising appropriate budgetary allocations to ensure that the conference could be held. It also encouraged all parliaments to make sure that there were members of parliament, both men and women, in the national delegations attending the conference. Moreover, it invited the Secretary General, in cooperation with the Parliament of South Africa, to look into the possibility of holding a parliamentary meeting in parallel to the Conference. Finally, the Council placed on the agenda of the Conference in Jakarta an item which would allow for enhanced cooperation with the High Commissioner: The prevention of military and other coups against democratically elected governments and against the free will of the people expressed through direct suffrage, and action to be taken to address grave violations of the human rights of parliamentarians.
(vi) IPU's contribution to the "Beijing + 5" process
The Council noted progress made in the IPU's contribution to the Special Session of the UN General Assembly to be held in New York from 5 to 9 June 2000 to review and assess international, regional and national follow up to the Beijing Platform for Action. It welcomed two surveys issued by the IPU: a survey of national parliaments and political parties on action taken to follow up the Beijing Platform for Action, and a survey of views expressed by women politicians throughout the world on how they made a difference in politics. The Council urged all members to do their utmost to ensure that the text emerging from government negotiations made a clear reference to the role of parliaments. It further urged all parliaments to arrange for male and female MPs to form part of national delegations to the Special Session of the UN General Assembly and to attend the Tripartite Consultation between members of parliament, representatives of governments taking part in the negotiations at the GA and representatives of the UN system, which the IPU would hold in New York on 7 June in co-operation with the UN Division for the Advancement of Women. The Council took note in that connection of the special "hearing" held by the Meeting of Women Parliamentarians on 30 April 2000 with Ms. Y. Ertürk, Director of the Division.
(vii) Dialogue among cultures and civilisations
The Council took note of the written and oral contributions made to the debate at the 103rd Conference on that issue by Mr. G. Picco, Personal Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for the UN Year on Dialogue Among Civilisations.
The Council took note of the report of the third session of the Preparatory Committee for the Conference containing the agenda, draft rules and draft Declaration of the Conference. It heard a statement by the Chinese delegation expressing strong support for the Conference while urging that a solution be found in the months ahead for the Declaration to address more adequately certain issues of great importance to developing countries, including China.
The Council took note that its President will preside over the Conference and appointed the following Vice-Presidents of the Conference: Dr. Frene Ginwala, Speaker of the National Assembly of South Africa, Mr. Li Peng, Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress of the People's Republic of China, Mr. G. Seleznev, Chairman of the State Duma of the Russian Federation, Mr. A. Majali, Speaker of the House of Representatives of Jordan, Mrs. B. Boothroyd, Speaker of the House of Commons of the United Kingdom, Mr. A.C. Magalhaes, President of the Senate of Brazil, Mr. J.D. Hastert, Speaker of the House of Representatives of the United States of America, and Mr. R. Forni, Speaker of the National Assembly of France.
The Council also appointed the following members of the Steering Committee of the Conference: Mr. M.P. Tjitendero, Speaker of the National Assembly of Namibia, Dr. A.F. Sorour, Speaker of the People's Assembly of Egypt, Mr. S. Ito, Speaker of the House of Representatives of Japan, Mrs. B. Dahl, Speaker of the Parliament of Sweden, and Mr. Z. Tuyakbai, Chairman of the Assembly of Kazakhstan. The Council took note that Dr. N.A. Heptulla, President of the IPU Council, Senator F. Solana (Mexico), Vice-President of the IPU Executive Committee, and Mr. M.M. Traoré, Speaker of the National Assembly of Burkina Faso, and elected by the Conference Preparatory Committee as Rapporteur, would serve on the Steering Committee, ex-officio.
The Council agreed that the Conference of Presiding Officers would
offer a unique opportunity for the world parliamentary community
to deliver a powerful and unequivocal message on the role of parliaments
in international cooperation. It asked the Secretary General to
write a synthesis of the Executive Committee's discussion on this
subject for circulation to all IPU members wishing to assist their
Presiding Officers in preparing for the Conference.
4. REFORM OF THE INTER-PARLIAMENTARY UNION
The Council considered a report of the Executive Committee on the possible reform of the IPU and endorsed the Committee's view that there was a need to undertake substantial reform of the structure and working methods of the organisation if it were to provide a parliamentary dimension to international cooperation. It noted that the Executive Committee had requested the Secretary General to prepare a summary of the various proposals it had made in Amman for further discussion at an extraordinary session in September.
The Council noted that, subsequent to a feasibility study on each of the three sites proposed for the construction, it had been decided to select the option entailing the restoration and conversion of an existing historic building and the construction of an annex. It also took note that a restricted architectural competition had been launched for that purpose.
The Council also noted that, pending the issue of the building permit and the release of the building loan by the Swiss Federal Government, initial costs of the project were being financed by the State of Geneva and the Buildings Foundation for International Organisations (FIPOI) subject to reimbursement by the IPU once the building permit had been issued and the property transferred in IPU's name. The Council authorised the Secretary General to give a guarantee, as requested by those authorities, that the IPU would undertake to reimburse the State of Geneva and FIPOI for initial costs advanced by them in the event of the Union abandoning the project after the issue of a building permit meeting its specifications fully and conforming to the feasibility study submitted to the Commission for the Protection of Sites. The Council took note that those costs would amount to some SF.2 million and would be included within the total approved project cost of SF.9.5 million.
The Council adopted a resolution on the results of the Parliamentary Meeting, held in Bangkok on 10 and 11 February 2000, on the occasion of UNCTAD X and organised by IPU and the Thai National Assembly in cooperation with the UNCTAD Secretariat. The resolution endorsing the Final Declaration of the Meeting was submitted by Mr. P. Günter (Switzerland), President of the Committee for Sustainable Development, which had acted as the Preparatory Committee for the Parliamentary Meeting in Bangkok.
The Council approved the "Guidelines for the Content and Structure of Parliamentary Web Sites" prepared by the IPU Secretariat at the request of the Executive Committee and referred to parliaments through the Association of Secretaries General of Parliaments (ASGP). The Council adopted a resolution encouraging all parliaments to enhance their presence on the Internet and inviting them to follow the Guidelines as closely as possible.
(i) Report by the President of the Council
The Council took note of the written and oral reports by the President, Dr. N.A. Heptulla, on her activities and meetings since the end of the 165th session in October 1999. The Council took note of an oral report by the President on the activities of the Executive Committee during its 230th session, in Amman.
(ii) Annual report of the Secretary General on the activities of the Union for 1999
The Council saw the written report of the Secretary General on the activities of the Union for 1999. Following an introductory statement by the Secretary General, the Council noted the report (copies of the report may be obtained from the Secretariat of the IPU).
The Council took note of a report by Mrs. L. Sharaf (Jordan) on the proceedings of the Meeting of Women Parliamentarians which she had chaired on 30 April and 5 May.
The Council took note of a report by Mr. M. Vauzelle (France) on the results of the Third IPU Conference on Security and Cooperation in the Mediterranean held under his chairmanship in Marseilles from 30 March to 3 April 2000. His report also covered the proceedings of the sixteenth Meeting of representatives of parties to the CSCM process, held on 3 May, which he chaired. At the proposal of the parties to the process, the Council adopted a resolution on the results of the Marseilles Conference.
At its second sitting, Mr. François Autain (France), President of the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians, reported to the Council on the work of the Committee at its 88th and 89th sessions which took place respectively in Geneva from 23 to 27 January and in Amman from 30 April to 5 May 2000.
The Council then adopted without a vote resolutions concerning 150 serving or former MPs from the following 17 countries: Argentina, Belarus, Bhutan, Burundi, Cambodia, Colombia, Djibouti, Ecuador, Gambia, Guinea, Honduras, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nigeria, Republic of Moldova, Sri Lanka and Turkey.
The Council heard the report of the Union's Committee for Sustainable Development presented by Mr. P. Günter (Switzerland). The Council approved the report of the Committee on its main session held in Geneva from 1 to 3 March 2000. It endorsed in particular the Committee's Statement on Financing for Development in which the Committee warmly welcomed the initiative of the United Nations to convene, in the year 2001, a high-level intergovernmental consultation of political decision-makers on financing for development. It proposed that, as part of its contribution to that consultation, the IPU organise a parliamentary debate on the issue at the Inter-Parliamentary Conference in Jakarta with a view to producing a comprehensive political statement by the world parliamentary community on financing for development.
The Committee also reported that, since the Rio Conference in 1992, the IPU had promoted and monitored action at the parliamentary level to ensure the continuation and strengthening of the process initiated by governments in Rio. The time had come to review parliamentary action in that field. However, the Committee had noted that the UN Secretariat was still working on the UN Secretary General's report on implementation of Agenda 21. There was no provisional agenda for the "Rio + 10" (2002) event, and even the format of the event (General Assembly Special Session or World Conference) was still very much undecided. The Committee therefore agreed to place that item on its agenda at its subsidiary session in Jakarta and to monitor further developments at the United Nations regarding the preparation and format of the event.
The Council took note of the report presented by Ms. Y. Loza (Egypt) on developments and contacts between the two Cypriot sides arranged with the assistance of the Facilitators and which had occurred since its last session in Berlin in October 1999.
The Council took note of the report presented by Mr. A. Philippou (Cyprus) on developments since October 1999 and contacts between the Arab and Israeli sides arranged with the assistance of the Committee during the Amman meetings.
The Council took note of the report presented by Mr. M.P. Tjitendero (Namibia) on the preliminary outcome of the consultation of IPU Members on ways to address the fact that there were still few, if any, women MPs in delegations to IPU meetings.
The Council had before it the financial results of the Union for 1999, the report of the External Auditor and the Secretary General's comments on the latter. It heard the report by its own Auditors, Mr. H. N. Ashequr Rahman (Bangladesh) and Mr. I. Fjuk (Estonia) and approved the Union's accounts for 1999 and the Secretary General's financial administration for that year.
At its sitting on 6 May 2000, the Council received proposals from the Executive Committee:
The Council asked the Secretary General to circulate all the proposed amendments among all member parliaments with a view to their adoption in Jakarta in October 2000.
The Council also approved the amendments to rules 14 and 19 of the Association of Secretaries General of Parliaments designed to do away with the distinction between the First and Second Vice-Presidents of the Association, as proposed by the governing body of the Association.
The Council approved the agenda of the 104th Inter-Parliamentary Conference to be held in Jakarta (Indonesia) in October 2000.
The Council accepted the invitation of the Parliament of Morocco to host the 107th Conference of the IPU in 2002.
The Council approved the proposal of the Committee for Sustainable Development to organise, in cooperation with the relevant multilateral institutions, a specialised conference on trade, finance and development issues in January 2001 in Geneva. It endorsed the Executive Committee's recommendation to postpone indefinitely, for reasons of timing, scheduling and resources, the "Forum on Perspectives on Democracy: How women make a difference" which had already been postponed from December 1999 to the current year. It decided to grant sponsorship to an International Conference on "Democracy and Governance - A Global Perspective", organised by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) and to be held in New Delhi in July 2000.
The Council took note of the calendar of future meetings and other activities.