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(Geneva, 18 October 2005)
1. Election of the President of the Inter-Parliamentary Union
The Governing Council elected Mr. Pier Ferdinando Casini (Italy) as President of the Inter-Parliamentary Union for a three-year term ending on October 2008.
2. Membership of the Inter-Parliamentary Union
At its sitting on 18 October, the Governing Council approved a request for affiliation from the parliament of Maldives and requests for reaffiliation from the parliaments of the Dominican Republic and Madagascar. It suspended the affiliation of Mauritania following a military coup d'état in that country. The Union currently comprises 143 Member Parliaments and seven international parliamentary associations as Associate Members.
The Governing Council also approved a request for observer status from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).
3. Financial situation
The Governing Council received a comprehensive written report on the financial situation of the IPU as at 30 June 2005, and a list of Members' arrears at 30 September 2005. The Secretary General gave the Council updated information on the situation as at the end of September, confirming that although the Second World Conference of Speakers of Parliaments had cost more than budgeted, the Union would end the year with a small operating surplus thanks to savings elsewhere. The Council also noted that the actuarial deficit associated with staff pensions had been fully eliminated as a result of the Governing Council's decision for the IPU to join the United Nations Joint Staff Pension Fund at the start of the year. The Union remained responsible for the payment of existing retirees' pensions, but the liability was negligible.
4. Programme and budget for 2006
The Governing Council heard a report by the Executive Committee rapporteur, Ms. K. Komi (Finland), on the draft programme and budget for 2006.
On the recommendation of the Executive Committee, the Governing Council approved the budget as submitted by the Secretary General with gross operating expenditures of 10,545,500 Swiss francs and capital expenditures of 50,000 Swiss francs. The Council approved a 3 per cent increase in assessed contributions and the addition of the new Members, the parliaments of the Dominican Republic, Madagascar and Maldives, to the scale of assessments.
The Governing Council noted the discussions of the Working Group set up by the Executive Committee to review the scale of assessments that had been in effect for the last 14 years. Since 1991, the Executive Committee had often considered the need to make membership more affordable for parliaments from the least developed countries and to take account of the many changes that had taken place in recent years in the economic situations of various countries. The Working Group had met on three occasions over two years, and now recommended a new scale that would reflect contemporary economic realities. The Executive Committee had requested that the recommended revised scale be circulated to all Members, with a view to its adoption at the Nairobi Assembly.
Lastly, and following approval in principle at the 176th session, the Governing Council amended the financial regulations to enable it in exceptional cases to consider the cancellation of all or part of the debt of a former Member wishing to return to the Union. The Council noted that when considering requests from potential Members for forgiveness, particular consideration should be given to whether the parliament in question had relinquished a single-party system in favour of a multiparty one, the amount of time that had elapsed since previous membership of the Union, the severity of the economic circumstances prompting the request, and the external factors causing those circumstances, such as recent civil strife.
5. Cooperation with the United Nations system
The Governing Council was given an overview of all the IPU activities carried out in cooperation with the United Nations. Click here for a list of all such activities. It also gave its endorsement to a Declaration of Principles for International Election Observation and a Code of Conduct for International Election Observers, submitted to the IPU jointly by the United Nations Electoral Assistance Division (UNEAD), the Carter Center and the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI).
The Governing Council received a report on the Second World Conference of Speakers of Parliaments. One hundred and fifty Speakers of national parliaments had attended the Conference at United Nations Headquarters from 7 to 9 September. The objectives of the Conference had been to air the views of parliamentarians from all regions of the world, take stock of parliamentary action in international relations in the past five years and examine how to provide more support for international cooperation and for the United Nations. The Conference had adopted a declaration at the conclusion of its proceedings, setting out its vision on how parliaments could fill the democracy gap in international relations. One Speaker did not join the consensus, and expressed a general reservation.
Alongside the plenary debates, two panel discussions had been held. The panel entitled Parliament's contribution to democracy had been chaired by Ms. B. Mbete, Speaker of the National Assembly of South Africa, and the panel entitled Role and responsibilities of parliaments vis-à-vis the United Nations by ILO Director-General, Mr. J. Somavia. The Conference had also adopted a statement expressing outrage at the denial of visas to one delegation, and delays in granting visas to another, that had prevented them from attending the event.
Building on the IPU Speakers' Conference, the Heads of State and Government meeting in New York the following week adopted an outcome document that included a paragraph entitled Cooperation between the United Nations and Parliaments, which read as follows:
"We call for strengthened cooperation between the United Nations and national and regional parliaments, in particular through the Inter-Parliamentary Union, with a view to furthering all aspects of the Millennium Declaration in all fields of the work of the United Nations and ensuring the effective implementation of United Nations reform."
In the light of the Speakers' Declaration and the Summit outcome document, and the patent need for the Union to increase the momentum of its relations with the United Nations by holding more meetings at its Headquarters in New York, the Council agreed that every effort should be made to consolidate the status of IPU meetings in New York and thus ensure that all parliaments could be represented at such events. A draft resolution on cooperation between the United Nations and the IPU had been prepared to that effect for adoption by the General Assembly. All parliaments were urged to enlist the full support of their countries' permanent representatives in New York to ensure that negotiations on the resolution were brought to a successful conclusion.
6. Recent specialised conferences and meetings
The Governing Council took note of the results of the seminar on freedom of expression, the preparatory meeting of the Inaugural Session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean, the regional seminar for Latin American parliaments on parliamentary oversight of the security sector, the seminar on the implementation of legislation on indigenous peoples' rights and the seminar for Latin American parliaments on parliament, the budget and gender.
7. Reports of Committees and other bodies
At its sitting on 18 October, the Governing Council took note of the reports on the activities of the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians, the Coordinating Committee of the Meeting of Women Parliamentarians, and the Gender Partnership Group.
8. Future Inter-Parliamentary Meetings
The Governing Council approved the dates for the 115th and 116th Assemblies, to be held respectively in Geneva and Bangkok. In addition to the meetings listed as previously approved, the Council approved the following events: