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(Geneva, 17 and 20 March 2014)
1. Membership of the IPU
At its sitting on 17 March, the Governing Council approved a request for affiliation from the Parliament of Tonga. At its sitting on 20 March, it approved a request for observer status submitted by the International Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions (INTOSAI).
2. Election of the Secretary General
At its sitting on 20 March, the Council heard a brief presentation by the following three candidates for the post of Secretary General of the IPU proposed by the Executive Committee: Mr. Martin Chungong (IPU Deputy Secretary General), Ms. Shazia Rafi (Pakistan) and Mr. Geert Versnick (Belgium). A vote was held by secret ballot, with the following results:
Mr. Martin Chungong was accordingly elected Secretary General of the Inter-Parliamentary Union for a period of four years (1 July 2014 to 30 June 2018).
3. Financial results for 2012
The Governing Council considered the Financial Report and Audited Financial Statements for 2013. For the second year running, the Financial Statements had been prepared in full compliance with the International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS). The accounts of the IPU and the accounts of the closed Pension Fund had once again been consolidated into a single set of financial statements.
In addition to the IPSAS adjustments made in 2012, three new standards had been adopted in 2013 that affected the accounting treatment of financial instruments. The interest-free loan from the Swiss Confederation had been amortized over its 50-year duration, which had required the restatement of the 2012 balance sheet.
The final results for 2013 showed that the IPU had posted a total operating surplus of CHF 571,905. Savings of CHF 194,000 had been made in staffing and administrative costs, and IPSAS adjustments required for the closed Pension Fund and reserves had increased the surplus by a further CHF 378,000. As a result, the balance of the Working Capital Fund had increased to CHF 8,414,638 at year-end, of which CHF 6.1 million represented available funds and the balance represented IPSAS accounting adjustments.
The Council noted that expenditure in respect of strategic directions 1, 2 and 3 under the IPU’s Strategy for 2012–2017 represented 35%, 10% and 38% of total expenditure, respectively, with the balance of 17% spent on support services.
The Internal Auditors, Mr. D. Pacheco (Portugal) and Mr. H.R. Mohamed (United Republic of Tanzania), presented their report. They noted that the financial situation of the IPU was sound and the results positive, and that the Working Capital Fund had increased in 2013. In their opinion, the accounts accurately reflected the financial situation of the IPU and complied with all current legal rules. The External Auditor had expressed no reservations on the Financial Statements and was satisfied that the IPU had implemented all previous recommendations. There was room, however, for further improvement of the internal controls system. The actuarial position of the United Nations Joint Staff Pension Fund did not need to be reflected in the Financial Statements but might potentially represent a risk in future.
The Internal Auditors noted that the IPU’s revenues had increased by 3% thanks to a significant increase in voluntary funding. The additional revenue had enabled increased programme activities, which had in turn had generated higher expenditure compared to 2012, including on staffing and outsourced services. Efforts should continue to be made to make maximum use of all available funding.
One delegation observed that the IPU’s founders had had the issue of funding in mind already at the outset, 125 years earlier. Since then, the IPU had accomplished great things, and it was appreciated that the IPU was funded not only by Members but also by external partners who gave the organization their seal of approval.
On the recommendation of the Internal Auditors, the Governing Council approved the Secretary General’s financial administration of the IPU and the financial results for 2013.
4. Financial situation
The Governing Council received an overview of the IPU's financial situation at 31 January 2014 and noted that the financial position remained sound. The overall level of expenditure was on track at 97% of the year-to-date budget. Arrears in assessed contributions amounted to only CHF 376,000, the lowest for many years, with very few Members having overdue accounts.
5. Cooperation with the United Nations system
The Council took note of the activities undertaken in cooperation with the United Nations system since the 129th IPU Assembly. One delegate took the floor to urge greater involvement by the IPU in support of the global climate change agreement to be adopted in 2015.
The Council was informed of preparations for the debate in the United Nations General Assembly in May 2014 on cooperation between the United Nations, national parliaments and the IPU. The Executive Committee and the Standing Committee on United Nations Affairs had reviewed and finalized a draft resolution that would be proposed to UN Member States for adoption by the UN General Assembly. The Council urged delegates to mobilize support from their respective governments by inviting them formally to sponsor the resolution.
6. Implementation of the IPU Strategy 2012-2017
The Council took note of the report of the Executive Committee and endorsed its recommendations, presented by Ms. S. Ataullahjan (Canada), on the external mid-term evaluation of the IPU Strategy for 2012-2017.
The Council was informed of the preparations being made to develop a common set of principles for practitioners in the field of parliamentary strengthening. The principles would be refined at a meeting of some of the main parliaments and organizations active in that field and submitted for endorsement by Member Parliaments in the course of the 131st IPU Assembly (Geneva, October 2014).
7. Recent specialized meetings
The Governing Council took note of the results of the regional conference on The role of parliament in conflict prevention and management in West Africa, the Regional Workshop for Pacific Parliaments on Modern Parliaments: The Pacific Perspective, the Eighth Meeting of Women Speakers of Parliament, the Annual Parliamentary Hearing at the United Nations, the Bali session of the Parliamentary Conference on the WTO), the Briefing on governance as an element of the post-2015 development agenda, the Regional seminar on Translating international human rights commitments into national realities: The contribution of parliaments to the work of the United Nations Human Rights Council, and the Parliamentary event organized on the occasion of the 58th session of the Commission on the Status of Women.
8. Reports of plenary bodies and specialized committees
At its sitting on 20 March, the Governing Council took note of the reports on the activities of the Meeting of Women Parliamentarians, the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians, the Committee on Middle East Questions, the Group of Facilitators for Cyprus, the Committee to Promote Respect for International Humanitarian Law, the Gender Partnership Group, the Advisory Group on HIV/AIDS and Maternal, Newborn and Child Heath, and the Forum of Young Parliamentarians of the IPU. It also approved the 23 resolutions submitted to it by the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians, noting the reservations expressed by the delegations of Cuba, Ecuador, the Russian Federation and Venezuela.
9. Future inter-parliamentary meetings
The Governing Council confirmed the decision to hold the 134th Assembly in Lusaka (Zambia) from 19 to 23 March 2016. It also approved the list of international organizations and other bodies to be invited to follow the work of the 131st Assembly as Observers, having added the INTOSAI to the list.
The Council approved the list of future meetings and other activities to be funded by the IPU’s regular budget and by external sources.
10. Amendments to the Statutes and Rules
As a follow-up to the series of amendments to the Statutes and Rules approved at its 193rd session with a view to modifying the format of IPU Assemblies, improving the functioning of the Standing Committees and their Bureaux, and placing the IPU Committee on United Nations Affairs on an equal footing with the Standing Committees, the Council approved amendments to the Rules of the Meeting of Women Parliamentarians and of the Coordinating Committee of Women Parliamentarians and the Rules and Practices of the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians. The Council also approved the Rules and Working Modalities of the Forum of Young Parliamentarians of the IPU.
11. 125th anniversary of the IPU
The Council was informed of the preparations being made to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the organization during the year. The anniversary day - 30 June - would be commemorated in Geneva, where the Executive Committee would convene and also oversee the handover from the outgoing to the new Secretary General.
The Council urged all parliaments to take a moment that day to celebrate the anniversary. The Secretariat was preparing an anniversary brochure highlighting 10 significant actions and achievements of the IPU that would be sent to all parliaments.
The Council took note of the many actions being taken in Geneva to highlight the anniversary. IPU flags would fly on the Mont Blanc Bridge in the centre of town during the week of the anniversary, flags would adorn buses and an exhibit on the IPU would be on display by the lake in September and early October, during the 131st Assembly.
The Council urged all Members to organize exhibitions in their respective parliaments using the IPU exhibit.