|>>> VERSION FRANÇAISE|
|Chemin du Pommier 5, C.P. 330, CH-1218 Le Grand-Saconnex/Geneva, Switzerland|
(Mexico, 19 and 23 April 2004)
At its first sitting on 19 April, the Governing Council approved requests for reaffiliation from the Parliaments of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Liberia, bringing the total IPU membership to 140.
The Governing Council heard a report of the Executive Committee on the structure and functioning of IPU Members and their participation in the Organisation's work, and endorsed its conclusions.
2. Financial Results for 2003
The Governing Council considered the Annual Financial Report and Audited Financial Statements for 2003, along with the report of the External Auditor, and a progress report on the implementation of the audit recommendations from the previous year. The Financial Statements showed that the IPU had an operating surplus of CHF 106,823 in 2003 and had underspent the budget under most headings.
Ms. I. Udre (Latvia) presented the report of the Internal Auditors. The Internal Auditors applauded the financial performance of the IPU in 2003 and the presentation of the Financial Statements. Ms Udre addressed three issues of minor non-compliance with International Public Sector Accounting Standards and drew the attention of the Governing Council to the major issue of the Pension Fund. The Internal Auditors endorsed the decision of the Executive Committee for the IPU to apply for membership in the United Nations Joint Staff Pension Fund, and suggested that any residual actuarial deficit of the Pension Fund at the end of 2004 should be reported in the following year's Financial Statements.
On the recommendation of the Internal Auditors, the Governing Council approved the Financial Statements, approved the transfer of the operating surplus to the Working Capital Fund, approved the write-off of the accounts receivable from Georgia, Liberia, Marshall Islands, Malawi, Paraguay and the United States in the amount of CHF 6,991,269 in accordance with Rule 10.2 of the Financial Regulations, and sanctioned the Secretary General's financial administration of the IPU in 2003.
3. Financial Situation
The Governing Council was given an overview of the current financial situation of the IPU. Expenditures during the first three months of the year were over budget on account of the first Assembly being held in Mexico rather than in London. The Secretary General said that he would endeavour to make savings in other areas to achieve a balanced budget at the end of the year. With respect to the decision to extend the second Assembly of the year from three days to four, the Governing Council approved the payment of the additional expense through a supplementary appropriation in the amount of CHF 66,135 being the amount of contributions and payments received from the two newly affiliated Members of the IPU.
4. Amendments to the Statutes and Rules
The Governing Council formally approved the amendments to Articles 10.3 and 15.2(c) of the Statutes that were necessary to adapt the terms of those Articles to the interpretative clauses regarding the question of gender distribution within delegations to the Assembly. It also gave its approval in principle to amendments to Assembly Rule 17.1 and Standing Committee Rule 12.2 to make it possible for the meeting of Women Parliamentarians or its Coordinating Committee to submit amendments to the draft resolutions debated in the Standing Committees. The latter amendments would be submitted to the 175th session of the Council and to the 111th Assembly for formal approval and adoption.
5. Cooperation with the United Nations System
The Governing Council was provided with an overview of cooperation between the IPU and the United Nations and its different departments, programmes and agencies. It commended the many joint activities that had been carried out in recent months with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Volunteers (UNV), the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR), the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the United Nations Organization for Education, Science and Culture (UNESCO).
The Governing Council took note of the Executive Committee's recommendation that negotiations be pursued with UNAIDS and UNICEF to strengthen the IPU's capacity to address issues relating to HIV/AIDS and child protection in a more systematic fashion. That would include the possibility of establishing parliamentary sub-committees within the IPU.
The Governing Council was also informed of the efforts deployed by the IPU to provide concrete support to the United Nations in the context of the Union's offer to provide assistance for the building of democratic institutions in Iraq. The Council approved plans made by the IPU to convene a meeting of Speakers of Parliaments of the countries neighbouring Iraq in Amman, Jordan, on 12 and 13 May 2004 at the invitation of the Speaker of the House of Representatives of Jordan.
The Council discussed a report submitted by the Executive Committee on the forthcoming report of the United Nations High Level Panel on relations between the United Nations and civil society, including parliamentarians and the private sector (the Cardoso Panel). Many delegates expressed serious misgivings about the approach and recommendations of the Panel because in seeking to establish parliamentary committees that would be subordinate to the authority of an inter-governmental organisation such as the United Nations, it did not respect the elementary principles of the separation and independence of powers, and fair representation and democratic legitimacy. Moreover, the proposal put forward parliamentary mechanisms within the United Nations that were almost identical to ones already existing within the IPU.
At the end of the debate, the Governing Council endorsed the report of the Executive Committee. It requested the President and the Secretary General to seek a meeting with the Secretary-General of the United Nations to convey to him the concerns of the Union. It thanked the Brazilian representative on the Executive Committee for his offer to approach the panel President, former President Cardoso of Brazil. Finally, the Council also called on all Members to make their concerns known to the United Nations through their country's representatives at the United Nations.
6. Second World Conference of Speakers of Parliaments
The Council noted the report of the first meeting of the Preparatory Committee for the Second World Conference of Speakers of Parliaments in 2005, which had met in Geneva on 26 and 27 January 2004.
The Committee had reviewed the background to the Conference, noting that the declaration adopted by the Speakers at their first Conference in 2000 had marked a significant turning point in parliamentary involvement in multilateral relations. Nevertheless, it remained to be seen how deeply its intent had percolated through to the day-to-day business of national parliaments. It had decided that a questionnaire would be sent to all Speakers of Parliaments to evaluate progress achieved on the basis of the commitments made by the Speakers attending the First Conference. The questionnaire would also include a section on legislative and oversight steps taken in national parliaments to promote both the knowledge and attainment of the Millennium Development Goals. Members were encouraged to submit their completed questionnaires as soon as possible.
The Committee had also decided to explore the possibility of establishing indicators relating to parliamentary democracy. The IPU Secretariat had been asked to seek the assistance of experts in preparing a comprehensive information document which the Committee would examine at its next meeting, to be held in Budapest on 2 and 3 September 2004.
7. Inter-Parliamentary Foundation for Democracy
The Governing Council heard a report from the Secretary General on progress in the establishment of the Inter-Parliamentary Foundation for Democracy. Pursuant to the decision taken by the Council at its 173rd session, the President of the Inter-Parliamentary Union had appointed the members of the Board of the Foundation. The Secretary General had worked with a Swiss lawyer to draft the by-laws of the Foundation, and during their meeting in Mexico City, the members of the Board had reviewed and amended the by-laws. The Secretary General would now begin negotiations with the Swiss authorities with a view to registering the Foundation under Swiss law, whereupon it would become operational.
8. Democracy and Strengthening Parliaments
The Governing Council heard a progress report on recent activities of the Union intended to promote democracy. The Union was increasingly adopting an integrated approach to democracy through strengthening the capacity of parliaments to ensure that members of parliament could perform their role of legislating, overseeing the government and representing the people. It sought to ensure that parliaments could play a more prominent role in protecting and promoting human rights as well as fostering policies enabling men and women to participate equally in decision-making processes. Furthermore, during the past year, the Union had been very active in supporting parliaments in conflict and post-conflict situations.
9. Recent Specialized Conferences and Meetings
The Governing Council took note of the results of the Parliamentary Panel within the framework of the World Summit on the Information Society that took place in Geneva on 11 December 2003. It also heard a report on the Seminar for Chairpersons and Members of Parliamentary Human Rights Bodies, which took place in Geneva from 15 to 17 March 2004.
10. Reports of Plenary Bodies and Specialised Committees
At its sitting on 23 April, the Governing Council took note of the reports on the activities of the Meeting of Women Parliamentarians and its Coordinating Committee, the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians, the meeting of Representatives of Parties to the CSCM process, the Committee on Middle East Questions, the Committee to Promote Respect for International Humanitarian Law, and the Gender Partnership Group.
The Governing Council also filled vacant positions on the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians, the Committee on Middle East Questions, and the Group of Facilitators for Cyprus.
11. Future Inter-Parliamentary Meetings
The Governing Council approved the dates for the 111th and 112th Assemblies, the latter to be held in Manila, Philippines. In addition to the meetings listed as previously approved, the Council approved the Meeting of Speakers of Parliaments of the countries neighbouring Iraq on the constitutional process in Iraq, to be held on 12 and 13 May in Amman, Jordan, and the second Meeting of the Preparatory Committee of the Second World Conference of Speakers of Parliaments, to be held in Budapest, Hungary, on 2 and 3 September 2004.