PREPARATIONS FOR A SECOND CONFERENCE OF PRESIDING OFFICERS OF NATIONAL PARLIAMENTS
Recommendations approved by the IPU Council at its 172nd session
(Santiago de Chile, 12 April 2003)
- The first ever Conference of Presiding Officers of National Parliaments took place in New York on the eve of the Millennium Summit in 2000. It focused on how best to provide a parliamentary dimension to international cooperation. The Speakers participating in the event called on parliaments and their members to assume increased responsibility in international relations.
- They suggested that this objective could be achieved primarily by playing a more active role at the national, regional and global levels as follows:
- At the national level, by reviewing, improving and making better use of parliament's procedures so that it can effectively influence policy on matters dealt with in international negotiating forums, be better informed of the progress and outcome of these negotiations, engage in the ratification of agreements and contribute actively to the implementation process;
- At the regional level, by making best possible use of existing regional parliamentary organisations and, through them, seek to influence the corresponding inter-governmental bodies; and
- At the global level, by consolidating the Inter-Parliamentary Union as the world organisation for inter-parliamentary cooperation and for relaying the vision and will of its members to intergovernmental organisations.
- In the days that followed, the Heads of State and government adopted the Millennium Declaration. In the declaration they established clear development goals for the international community to achieve within specific time limits. In order to make this possible, they also called for further reform of the United Nations. Part of that reform, they stated, must entail strengthening cooperation between the United Nations and national parliaments through the IPU in areas such as: peace and security, economic and social development, international law and human rights, democracy and gender issues.
- Since then, the IPU and the United Nations have taken a number of steps. The IPU is completing a reform process which aims in part to make it possible for the organisation to provide a better parliamentary dimension to international cooperation. The IPU has also obtained a new status at the UN which should allow it to bring the voice of the people to the United Nations. Moreover, the IPU has moved to strengthen its practical cooperation with the United Nations in a variety fields covered by the Millennium Declaration. The organisation is also enhancing its visibility, not least by moving into new headquarters premises in Geneva – The House of Parliaments.
- For its part, the United Nations has launched a follow-up process to the Millennium Summit which aims at encouraging States to make progress towards achieving the Millennium Goals and to keep track of that progress. Benchmarks and indicators have been established and a reporting process has been set in motion. A major report will be prepared by the UN Secretary-General on implementation and presented to UN Member States in 2005.
- There is a need to ensure that the declaration adopted by the Presiding Officers Conference is put into effect by parliaments, specifically by taking concrete steps to strengthen their ability to assume increased responsibilities in international relations. By assuming responsibility for prompting, monitoring and reporting on follow-up, the IPU would place itself at the forefront of the debate on the democracy deficit in international relations. Moreover, it would put the Organisation in a good position to provide a major contribution to the evaluation of the Millennium Declaration that will take place in 2005.
- Based on these considerations, the Executive Committee recommends that the IPU set up its own follow-up mechanism that would lead to a second Conference of Presiding Officers of National Parliaments in 2005.
- The mechanism for such a process could mirror the one which was put in place in 1998 to prepare the first Conference. On that occasion a Preparatory Committee composed of Presiding Officers and some members of the Executive Committee was set up. The Executive Committee recommends that such a Committee be established and that its composition be decided upon by the Governing Council at its 173rd session in October 2003.
- The Executive Committee recommends further that the Preparatory Committee be given the following mandate:
- To make proposals for and subsequently evaluate activities to be carried out by the IPU over the next 24 months aiming at identifying action taken by parliaments to follow up on the recommendations made by the first Conference of Presiding Officers that relate to providing a parliamentary dimension to international cooperation;
- To assess action taken by parliaments in support of the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals and identify best practices; and
- To prepare a Second Conference of Presiding Officers by National Parliaments.
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