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(Hanoi, 29 March and 1 April 2015)
1. Membership and Permanent Observers of the IPU
At its sitting on 29 March, the Governing Council was informed that there were no new applications for membership and no requests for observer status. The total membership therefore remained unchanged at 166.
On 1 April, the Council heard and endorsed a recommendation of the Executive Committee regarding the transitional parliaments in Burkina Faso and Thailand. It urged the two countries to adhere to their roadmap on the return to democracy and looked forward to welcoming the new parliaments by the time of the 134th Assembly.
2. Financial results for 2012
The Governing Council considered the Financial Report and Audited Financial Statements for 2014. For the third 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 closed Pension Fund had once again been consolidated into a single set of financial statements.
The financial results for 2014, introduced by Mr. R.M.K. Al Shariqi (United Arab Emirates) in his capacity as Chair of the Sub-Committee on Finance, showed that the IPU had recorded a total operating surplus of CHF 643,295. Savings of CHF 315,000 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 328,000. As a result, the balance of the Working Capital Fund had increased to CHF 9 million at year-end, of which CHF 6.5 million represented available funds and the balance represented IPSAS accounting adjustments. Voluntary funding of CHF 2.6 million had been utilized for programme activities in 2014, representing an increase of 24 per cent compared to the previous year.
The Chair of the Sub-Committee on Finance also conveyed a request made by the Twelve Plus Group to reduce Members’ assessed contributions by 10 per cent in 2016, a request which was reiterated by the French delegation. The request was duly noted by the Council and would be examined by the Sub-Committee on Finance during its work to prepare the 2016 consolidated budget of the IPU.
The Internal Auditor’s report was presented by Mr. K. Örnfjäder (Sweden). He noted that the financial situation of the IPU was sound and the results positive, and that the Working Capital Fund had increased in 2014. In his 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. Three recommendations were made relating to closing the Global Parliamentary Foundation for Democracy, the handling of a small advance payment by the Marshall Islands and the careful implementation of book-keeping controls. The Secretary General had confirmed his agreement to each of those recommendations and was already taking steps for their implementation.
The Internal Auditor noted that the IPU’s revenues had increased significantly thanks to the voluntary funds mobilized and used in 2014. He was encouraged to see that arrears of contributions had been reduced, both in value and age.
On the recommendation of the Internal Auditor, the Governing Council approved the Secretary General’s financial administration of the IPU and the financial results for 2014.
3. Financial situation
The Governing Council received an overview of the IPU's financial situation at 31 January 2015 and noted that the financial position remained sound. The overall level of expenditure was on track at 101 per cent of the year-to-date budget. Arrears in assessed contributions amounted to only CHF 268,000, the lowest for many years, with only a very few Members having overdue accounts.
4. Cooperation with the United Nations system
The Council took note of activities undertaken in cooperation with the United Nations system since the 131st Assembly. The Secretary General drew attention to the IPU’s systematic interaction with the United Nations and its Member States in the context of the global talks on the post-2015 development agenda and the accompanying political Declaration. The outcome document of the 132nd IPU Assembly, the Hanoi Declaration, would constitute a major contribution to the Fourth World Conference of Speakers of Parliament and to the UN Summit in September 2015.
The IPU had continued to promote a robust parliamentary contribution to other major global processes, such as through preparatory work for and parliamentary meetings during the Second International Conference on Nutrition (Rome, November 2014), the United Nations Climate Change Conference (Lima, December 2014), the Third International Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons (Vienna, December 2014), and the Third United Nations World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (Sendai, March 2015).
The Council was also informed of progress in drafting the new Cooperation Agreement between the United Nations and the IPU, as requested by IPU Members and the UN General Assembly (resolution 68/272). Further to work done by the Sub-Committee on the future IPU-UN Cooperation Agreement, a first draft had been circulated to all Member Parliaments in advance of the 132nd Assembly. Amendments and other inputs from several parliaments (Australia, Bahrain, Burundi, Croatia, Germany, Lithuania, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand and Sudan) had been reviewed by the Sub-Committee, and subsequently endorsed by the Executive Committee. At its last sitting on 1 April, the Council endorsed the new text, which would henceforth serve as the basis for consultations with the United Nations. Members would be briefed on further progress in negotiations on the Cooperation Agreement at the 133rd IPU Assembly in October 2015.
5. Implementation of the IPU Strategy 2012-2017
In the context of discussions on the implementation of Strategic Objective 1, Strengthen democracy through parliaments, the Council took note of the fact that about 45 parliaments, three parliamentary assemblies and 12 partner organizations had formally endorsed the Common Principles for Support to Parliament by 1 April 2015. The Council was also apprised of consultations underway on possible themes for the next Global Parliamentary Report and Members were invited to contribute actively to its preparation. It further received information about the IPU’s efforts to involve young people in democracy through parliament. The ultimate objective was to boost the representativeness and inclusiveness of parliaments and work against age discrimination.
With regard to the implementation of Strategic Objective 2, Advancing Gender Equality, the Council reviewed achievements made between September 2014 and February 2015. Two publications had been issued for the Beijing+20 review: Women in Parliament: 20 years in review and the Map on Women in Politics 2015, produced jointly with UN Women. Capacity-building activities had been organized in Côte d’Ivoire and Tunisia for women parliamentarians. In order to advance implementation of the IPU Plan of Action for Gender-sensitive Parliaments, assistance had been provided to the Mexican Senate for a gender-sensitivity self-assessment. Together with the Parliament of Bangladesh, the IPU had organized a regional seminar for Asia-Pacific parliaments on ending violence against girls. It had also helped organize a parliamentary training workshop in Mali on addressing violence against women and girls.
The Council was informed of plans to examine from a parliamentary perspective the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action 20 years after their adoption. In March 2015, together with UN Women, the IPU had organized the annual Parliamentary Meeting on the occasion of the 59th session of the Commission on the Status of Women, devoted to Beijing+20. Activities during the 132nd IPU Assembly included an event on the views of men on achieving the vision of Beijing and the celebration of the 30th anniversary of the Meeting of Women Parliamentarians. In order to galvanize political support for gender equality and the commitments to the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, the Council had also decided to support UN Women’s global campaign to mark Beijing+20, Empowering Women – Empowering Humanity: Picture It!
The Council also decided to endorse the Call to Action adopted at the meeting of women leaders convened jointly by the President of Chile and UN Women.
Under Strategic Objective 6, Contribute to peacebuilding and conflict prevention, having noted the Secretary General’s report on his mission to Syria, the Governing Council authorized a fact-finding parliamentary mission to be dispatched to Syria and the continued provision of capacity-building assistance to the Syrian Parliament. The Council also authorized the Secretary General to pursue consultations with a view to promoting inter-Korean dialogue and parliamentary cooperation.
6. Recent specialized meetings
The Governing Council took note of the results of the nine specialized meetings organized by the IPU between 15 October 2014 and 15 March 2015. Seven of those meetings were global in scope and two regional. They addressed a wide variety of issues, including security, human rights, children's rights, gender equality, nutrition, climate change, international trade and disaster risk preparedness. The meetings were held in eight different countries. The full texts of the relevant reports are available on the IPU website:
7. Reports of plenary bodies and specialized committees
At its sitting on 1 April, 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 Health, and the Forum of Young Parliamentarians. It also approved the 12 decisions submitted by the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians, noting the reservations expressed by the delegations of Belarus, Malaysia and the Maldives concerning the cases in their respective countries.
8. Future inter-parliamentary meetings
The Governing Council took note that, for financial reasons, the Parliament of Colombia was no longer in a position to host the 133rd IPU Assembly. It approved the recommendation of the Executive Committee that the 133rd Assembly should instead take place at the Geneva International Conference Centre (CICG) from 17 to 21 October 2015. In view of the limited availability of meeting rooms at the CICG during that period, the programme of the forthcoming Assembly would have to be condensed, with some meetings taking place at IPU Headquarters.
The Governing Council approved the list of future meetings to be organized by the IPU with funding provided from either the IPU’s regular budget or external sources. It noted Pakistan’s request to host a regional seminar on terrorism and human rights. Details of that event would be worked out in consultation with the host Parliament.
The Governing Council was informed of the status of preparations for the Fourth World Conference of Speakers of Parliament, to be held in New York from 31 August to 2 September 2015. The Council urged all Conference participants requiring an entry visa for the United States to take the necessary steps without delay and to keep the IPU Secretariat informed of any complications.
9. Amendments to the Statutes and Rules
In conformity with Article 23 of the Statutes, the Governing Council approved an amendment to the Rules and Practices of the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians pertaining to the definition of the quorum required by the Committee to carry out its functions.