|>>> VERSION FRANÇAISE|
|Chemin du Pommier 5, C.P. 330, CH-1218 Le Grand-Saconnex/Geneva, Switzerland|
(Geneva, 16, 17 and 18 October 2006)
1. Membership of the IPU
At the opening of its first sitting on 16 October, the Governing Council observed a moment of silence in honour of the memory of Sir Michael Marshall, a former President of the Inter-Parliamentary Council who had recently passed away.
The Governing Council then approved the requests for affiliation from the parliaments of Gambia, Montenegro and Palau, decided to suspend the participation of Thailand in the activities of the IPU in the wake of the military coup d'état in that country, and granted observer status to the Transitional Arab Parliament (TAP), and to the Centrist Democrat International (CDI). In light of the items on the Assembly's agenda, it also granted observer status at the 115th Assembly to the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue. At its last sitting on 18 October, it decided to suspend the affiliation of the Parliament of Djibouti, which had accumulated more than three years' arrears in the payment of its contributions. The IPU currently comprises 148 Member Parliaments and seven international parliamentary assemblies as Associate Members.
2. Financial situation of the IPU
The Governing Council received a comprehensive written report on the financial situation of the IPU as at 30 June 2006 and a list of Members' arrears as at 16 October 2006. Five Members had significant arrears and were subject to sanctions. The Secretary General gave the Council updated information on the financial situation at the end of September, confirming that the IPU would end the year with an operating surplus equal to approximately two per cent of the budget. The expected surplus would be used to augment the Working Capital Fund, which stood at CHF 5.1 million.
The Council noted that the closed Staff Pension Fund reported an actuarial surplus; although the IPU remained responsible for the payment of existing retirees' pensions, it would not be required to make any additional contribution to the Fund at this time.
3. Programme and budget for 2007
The Governing Council heard a report by the Executive Committee rapporteur, Mr. J. Austin (United Kingdom), on the draft programme and budget for 2007, which included a new scale of contributions and a detailed estimate of new voluntary funding. On the recommendation of the Executive Committee, the Governing Council approved the budget as submitted by the Secretary General with two amendments as outlined below. It approved gross operating expenditures of CHF 17,456,720 and capital expenditures of CHF 50,000. For the first time, the operating budget included the activities funded with voluntary contributions, primarily technical assistance projects. Expenditure on those projects was conditional on funding commitments. The Council approved an overall three per cent increase in assessed contributions for existing Members and assessed the new Members: the Parliaments of The Gambia, Montenegro and Palau.
Two amendments to the budget were approved by the Council, one for the translation of documents into Spanish through an arrangement with the GRULAC Secretariat, to be undertaken by the Parliament of Uruguay, and the other to fund a parliamentary event at the Global Forum on Reinventing Government. Both activities are to be carried out within the approved funding ceiling.
The Governing Council approved the implementation of a new revenue-neutral scale of contributions that better reflects capacity to pay. The new scale of contributions, derived from the draft United Nations Scale of Contributions for 2007-2009, will make membership more affordable for parliaments from the least developed countries and will take account of the economic changes that have taken place since the scale was last adjusted in 1991. The Parliament of China accepted its assessment for 2007, but expressed reservations about the assessment formula and the base data. The Council decided that the scale of contributions would be regularly reviewed to take account of changes in the United Nations scale of assessment and in IPU membership.
4. Fundraising strategy 2007-2010
The Governing Council received a four-year plan for promoting peace, democracy and global governance with a detailed list of planned activities and requirements for voluntary funding. In this regard, the Council approved a resource mobilization strategy setting out a plan for approaching donors and for coordinating efforts with the Global Parliamentary Foundation for Democracy.
5. Cooperation with the United Nations System
The Governing Council took stock of recent developments in the area of cooperation between the IPU and the United Nations, considered reports from a variety of United Nations-related activities and approved a calendar of forthcoming initiatives and joint meetings.
The Council approved the draft agreement of cooperation with the United Nations Democracy Fund (UNDEF), which establishes a framework in which both parties will work together on issues of common interest in the context of supporting democracy throughout the world. The Agreement was formally signed in Geneva during the Council session on 17 October. Already, two projects submitted by the IPU – one concerning work by national parliaments in Africa on enforcing international human rights conventions, and another in support of women’s political participation in Burundi – have been approved for funding (worth over US$ 500,000) from UNDEF and will shortly be entering their implementation phase.
The Council also approved a proposed Memorandum of Understanding between the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs and the IPU on the Global Centre for Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) in Parliament. The Centre aims to build the capacity of parliaments worldwide through ICT tools, and to promote relevant ICT-related legislation.
The Council heard a presentation by Mr. J. Somavia, Director-General of the International Labour Organization (ILO), and approved a series of proposals for a programme of cooperation with the ILO aimed at developing a parliamentary perspective to the Decent Work Agenda. A five-year plan is expected to be launched in 2007, to include the establishment of a joint IPU-ILO programme of activities, annual global meetings, the development of a best practices guide and practical recommendations for parliaments with a view to putting jobs at the heart of national policy making.
The Council approved an agreement through which the IPU would join UNDP, International IDEA, UNIFEM and the National Democratic Institute (NDI) as one of the partners in the International Knowledge Network of Women in Politics (iKNOW Politics). The goal of iKNOW Politics is to increase the participation and effectiveness of women in political life through a technology-enabled forum.
In considering the biennial Report of the United Nations Secretary-General: Cooperation between the United Nations and IPU, the Governing Council noted the expansion of cooperation between the two organizations over the past two years, and called for further efforts to be made in fully implementing the decisions of the Second World Conference of Speakers of Parliaments. It noted the recommendations made by the United Nations Secretary-General, including: establishing a permanent mechanism for consultation and coordination with a view to achieving greater coherence in the work of the two Organizations and maximizing parliamentary support for the work of the United Nations; forging close cooperation ties between the IPU and the newly established United Nations bodies – the Human Rights Council, the Peacebuilding Commission (PBC) and the United Nations Democracy Fund; and the active involvement of the IPU in implementing the new functions devolved to the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) by the 2005 World Summit.
The Council heard a presentation on the state of negotiations under way in New York on the draft General Assembly resolution on cooperation between the United Nations and the Inter-Parliamentary Union, and was invited to harness support from all Permanent Missions for a robust and substantive resolution.
The President of the IPU drew the attention of the Governing Council to the 2006 Parliamentary Hearing at the United Nations (New York, 13-14 November 2006), which will be focusing on the question of Conflict Prevention and Peace-Building: Reinforcing the Key Role of the United Nations.
6. Consolidation of reform of the IPU
The Governing Council received the report of the President’s Working Group on Reform. It noted the proposals to make the work of the Standing Committees more focused, to enhance the role of the IPU President to provide political guidance, and to continue to build a strategic partnership with the United Nations. Particular attention was paid to the new proposals for the second Assembly of the year, which could entail a longer session of the Governing Council to allow for more in-depth discussion of the programme and budget of the IPU and other key items. In tandem with an enlarged Council session, there could be a political event that would be held within a new plenary committee on the United Nations, while the Standing Committees would meet only at the first Assembly of the year.
The Governing Council gave a favourable hearing to the proposals, and no objections were voiced. It was decided that pending further consultations with the geopolitical groups, the formal endorsement of the proposal would take place at the 116th Assembly.
The Governing Council agreed to modify the Members’ annual reporting exercise. Members would continue to report on the way that they were organized in national parliaments and would also comment on follow-up in their parliaments on three subjects recently treated in IPU Assembly resolutions, namely, violence against women, small arms and biodiversity.
7. Recent specialized conferences and meetings
The Governing Council took note of the results of the Regional Conference on Women in Politics, the Regional Capacity-Building Seminar for African Parliaments on Sustainable Development, the Regional Conference for Women Parliamentarians in the Gulf Cooperation Council States, the Regional Seminar for South-East Asian Parliaments on Security Sector Reform, the Inaugural Session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean, the Panel discussion on Governance in the Least Developed Countries, the IPU Advisory Group on HIV/AIDS and the Parliamentary Caucus on HIV/AIDS, and the Meeting of Parliamentary Human Rights Bodies.
The Governing Council gave its formal approval of the establishment of the IPU Advisory Group on HIV/AIDS.
8. 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 Women Parliamentarians, the Gender Partnership Group and the Committee on Middle East Questions.
9. Future inter-parliamentary meetings
Following the decision to suspend the participation of Thailand in the activities of the IPU, the Parliament of Indonesia proposed to host the 116th Assembly in its stead. The Governing Council endorsed the proposal in principle and gave a mandate to the President and Secretary General to conclude the details of hosting an Assembly in Jakarta prior to final confirmation. The International Conference Centre in Geneva has been reserved as a second option.
The Governing Council confirmed that the 118th Assembly would take place in Cape Town (South Africa) from 13 to 18 April 2008.
In addition to the specialized and other meetings previously approved, the Council approved the following events: