COOPERATION WITH THE UNITED NATIONS SYSTEM
List of activities undertaken by the IPU between 5 May and 8 October 2007
Noted by the IPU Governing Council at its 181st session
(Geneva, 10 October 2007)
- Resolutions from the 116th IPU Assembly were circulated to the United Nations General Assembly in all six official languages of the United Nations and with access from both the IPU and UN websites.
- Further to the Declaration on Climate Change issued at the 116th IPU Assembly, the IPU launched a global parliamentary campaign to raise awareness about the issue of global warming and lend its support to related efforts by the United Nations. The campaign was announced to coincide with the visit to IPU Headquarters in Geneva by the United Nations Secretary-General (UNSG), Mr. Ban Ki moon, on 6 July. The IPU followed the three-day thematic debate of the General Assembly on climate change that was held at the end of July. The IPU Secretary General also attended the special event on climate change that Mr. Ban organized for Heads of States and Government during their annual gathering in New York in September.
- The visit to IPU Headquarters by the UNSG provided an opportunity for discussion of the partnership and future cooperation between the two organizations. Efforts are currently underway for the UNSG to attend the 118th Assembly of the IPU, to be held in April 2008 in Cape Town, South Africa.
- Consultations were held with United Nations officials, including the President of the General Assembly (PGA), to set the stage for the first ever joint UN-IPU Parliamentary Hearing at the United Nations. Scheduled to take place in New York on 20 and 21 November, the Hearing will focus on the theme of Reinforcing the rule of law in international relations: the key role of parliaments. A first letter of invitation, signed jointly by the President of the UN General Assembly and the President of the IPU, was sent out in early August to all Speakers of parliaments.
- The IPU continued to work closely with the UN Peacebuilding Commission, particularly on the country-specific configurations for Burundi and Sierra Leone. The IPU facilitated a retreat of parliamentary political party leaders in Gitega, Burundi (June 2007), and finalized preparations for a needs assessment mission to Sierra Leone following the general elections there (October 2007).
- An IPU delegation of four MPs attended the launch event in Geneva of the new Development Cooperation Forum (DCF) of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) on 5 July. The delegation was headed by the Deputy Speaker of the Parliament of Uganda, Ms. Rebecca Kadaga. To further signal the IPU’s commitment to support the nascent DCF, the IPU Secretary General joined the Advisory Group on the DCF, which is chaired by the United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, Mr. Sha Zukang. Further discussions on how parliaments can be involved in the work of the DCF will continue in autumn.
- On 25 June, in cooperation with the Austrian Parliament, the IPU held a one-day Parliamentary Forum as a contribution to the 7th Global Forum on Reinventing Government, organized by the United Nations (Vienna, 26-29 June). On that occasion, a capacity-building workshop on Improving the Quality of the Electoral and Parliamentary Process was held in cooperation with the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA) and the International Foundation for Election Systems (IFES).
- In May, the IPU and the United Nations Department for Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) co-facilitated a meeting of the sub-group on "ICT and Parliaments" as part of the follow-up to the World Summit on the Information Society under Action Line C1, "The role of public governance authorities and all stakeholders in the promotion of ICTs for development".
- The IPU worked with UNDESA to prepare the World e-Parliament Conference and related meetings, which will take place from 10 to 12 October 2007. The conference will be co organized with the Association of Secretaries General of Parliaments, through the Global Centre for ICT in Parliament.
- Work on the Handbook for Parliamentarians on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and its Optional Protocol was completed. The Handbook, produced in cooperation with UNDESA and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), will be launched at the 117th Assembly in Geneva in the original English language. Arabic, French and Spanish translations will be issued in the first quarter of 2008.
- Discussions on a joint UN-IPU project on parliamentary groups in support of the Brussels Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries continued following the appointment of a new United Nations High Representative for the LDCs, Mr. Cheick Sidi Diarra, in June. The project’s pilot phase will start in December with a meeting involving 10 parliaments from the LDC group.
- The IPU had a first discussion with the UN Electoral Assistance Division on possible cooperation in helping monitor the November parliamentary elections in Nepal and assisting with a smooth transition of power in the days immediately following the elections.
- As a follow-up to the Bali resolution on "Ensuring respect for and peaceful coexistence between all religious communities and beliefs in a globalized world", the IPU joined the Group of Friends of the Alliance of Civilizations (AoC - initiative sponsored by Spain and Turkey, for which Mr. Jorge Sampaio, former President of Portugal was recently appointed UN High Representative). The President of the IPU was subsequently invited to attend a high-level AoC meeting in New York, on the occasion of the 2007 General Debate (26 September).
- Consultations continued on a comprehensive Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the IPU and UNDP, to be formally signed once approved by the IPU governing bodies.
- The IPU continued to work with UNDP country offices to implement programmes of assistance to the parliaments of Burundi, Egypt, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Pakistan and Timor-Leste, to name but a few.
- The IPU launched a project of assistance to women parliamentarians of Burundi with funding from UNDEF. A seminar entitled Parliament and gender equality was held in Bujumbura on 18 and 19 June 2007.
- The IPU launched a programme of assistance to French-speaking African parliaments to promote parliamentary involvement in the implementation of human rights treaties. The official launch took place during a seminar for the parliaments concerned, hosted by the National Assembly of Burkina Faso from 1 to 3 October. That programme was also funded by UNDEF.
- The IPU and UNICEF joined forces to organize a regional seminar in Islamabad, Pakistan (June 2007) on "Developing a protective environment for South Asian children: The role of parliamentarians in the protection of children in the Juvenile Justice System". A regional guide for parliamentarians on Improving the protection of children in conflict with the law in South Asia was launched by UNICEF and the IPU on that occasion.
- The IPU was invited to address the Executive Board of UNICEF in early September and present their proposed programme of cooperation. The proposal was well received and fundraising has now begun to help bring it to fruition.
- The IPU is also working with UNICEF to organize a panel discussion at the United States Congress on 23 October on violence against girls with the participation of prominent MPs from a number of countries.
- Members of the IPU Advisory Group on HIV/AIDS undertook a first field visit to Brazil in June to assess realities on the ground as well as to identify policies to better deal with the pandemic. In cooperation with UNAIDS, a panel discussion was later held at the United States Congress, with the participation of the Chair of the House Sub-committee on Africa and Global Health and the Co-Chair of the Congressional Global Health Caucus.
- Work on a joint IPU-UNAIDS-UNDP Handbook for Parliamentarians is heading towards completion. The publication will be launched at the First Global Parliamentary Meeting on HIV/AIDS to be held in Manila at the end of November.
- On 2 October, an IPU representative addressed the 54th session of the Trade and Development Board of UNCTAD. The presentation focused on the parliamentary contribution to the ongoing process of preparation for the UNCTAD XII session, to be held in Accra (Ghana) in April 2008.
International Labour Organization (ILO)
- The IPU has been working to implement the Joint Programme of Work which the ILO and the IPU agreed to carry out in order to mobilize parliaments around the ILO Decent Work Agenda. Preparations are underway for a joint ILO-IPU meeting to be held on the eve of the ILO Forum on Decent Work for a Fair Globalization (Lisbon, 31 October to 2 November 2007).
World Trade Organization (WTO)
- A two-day meeting of the Steering Committee of the Parliamentary Conference on the WTO was held in Geneva in June with the participation of the WTO Director-General, Mr. Pascal Lamy.
- A further session of the Steering Committee took place on 3 October in Geneva. Its programme included a hearing with Ambassadors of the G4 group of countries (Brazil, EU, India and USA). The Ambassadors of New Zealand and Canada were invited in their capacity as chairpersons of WTO negotiation groups dealing respectively with agriculture and non-agricultural market access.
- On 4 October, the IPU and the European Parliament jointly organized a parliamentary panel within the framework of the WTO Public Forum 2007. The theme of the parliamentary panel was "Trade and climate change: Is trade killing our planet?"
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