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(Geneva, 24 and 27 October 2016)
1. Membership and Permanent Observers of the IPU
At its sitting on 24 October, the Governing Council approved a request for affiliation from the Parliament of Swaziland, thus bringing the overall membership of the IPU to 171 national parliaments.
The Council was apprised of the situation of certain parliaments and took note of recommendations from the Executive Committee with regard to the following parliaments: Burundi, Cambodia, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Eritrea, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti, Libya, Somalia, South Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, Thailand, Turkey, Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of) and Yemen.
The Council approved the establishment of a Parliamentary Solidarity Fund with a view to encouraging the participation of parliaments, especially those of Small Island Developing States, in the IPU's drive towards universal membership. The practical modalities of the Fund would be developed by the Sub-Committee on Finance for subsequent adoption by the governing bodies.
2. Financial situation of the IPU
The Governing Council was presented with a report on the financial situation of the IPU as at 31 July 2016 and an updated list of unpaid contributions. As at 27 October 2016, two Members had arrears of two full years and were subject to voting sanctions. Of the two Members subject to suspension due to arrears of three or more years, Congo provided evidence that it was in the process of transferring sufficient funds towards covering part of its arrears. Honduras was to be approached and supported by certain Members with a view to retaining its membership. It was therefore agreed to defer its suspension until the next session of the Governing Council. The Council took note that the income and expenditure of the IPU were close to target for the first half of the year and were projected to remain within overall budget until the end of the year.
3. Programme and budget for 2017
The Council received the consolidated budget proposal for 2017.
Reporting on behalf of the Executive Committee, the Chairperson of the Sub-Committee on Finance Mr. R. del Picchia (France) observed that the proposed budget represented a transition to the revised IPU Strategy. He highlighted the key elements, including the revised IPU scale of assessment, patterned on the latest UN scale, which changed the percentage shares of assessed contributions for some Members. Following the previous year’s decrease in total Member contributions of 8.7 per cent, a small increase of 1.5 per cent was recommended for 2017 in order to meet certain essential expenditures relating to security and the IPU website. At the same time, savings had been made across several other areas of the budget while maintaining the IPU’s full range of activities.
In order to balance the budget, CHF 100,000 from the Working Capital Fund was authorized to be used if needed. This would be a temporary measure only. The Executive Committee had welcomed the very successful efforts of the President and the Secretary General to mobilize voluntary funds from external sources. These funds also contributed to the costs of supporting the IPU’s programmes.
Following questions and comments from Members, including Bangladesh, Sweden and Ukraine, it was confirmed that: the expenditure for future statutory meetings was budgeted under Objective 7; that the core expenditure savings would not reduce IPU activities; that authorization to use the Working Capital Fund would only be exercised if needed and would be reduced in future years; and that the IPU’s reserves continued to be managed prudently.The Governing Council approved the 2017 budget of CHF 15,927,300. It also endorsed the proposal to develop the usual detailed logframe, as in the past, to be annexed to the approved budget following the adoption of the revised IPU Strategy for 2017–2021. The approved budget and scale of contributions for 2017 are presented on pages 60 and 61.
4. Cooperation with the United Nations system
The Council reviewed the activities undertaken in cooperation with the United Nations system from 15 March to 15 September 2016. The IPU had worked with the United Nations towards common objectives in a range of political processes. A number of meetings had been held and publications produced.
Members took note that the new cooperation agreement that had been under negotiation for some time had been signed in July 2016 between the Secretaries General of the two organizations. The new pact gave recognition to the IPU as the world organization of parliaments and placed the strategic partnership between the IPU and the United Nations on a stronger footing.In July 2016, the UN General Assembly had also adopted a consensus resolution entitled Interaction between the United Nations, national parliaments and the Inter-Parliamentary Union.
5. IPU Strategy for 2017–2021
The Governing Council adopted the revised IPU Strategy for 2017–2021, which would serve as the Organization's roadmap for the next five years. Entitled Strong democratic parliaments serving the people, the document highlighted the need for democracy to deliver better development and peace outcomes for people everywhere. The UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development would provide an appropriate framework for meeting the objectives contained in the Strategy.
6. Recent specialized meetings
The Governing Council took note of the outcomes of Building strong foundations for sustainable development; Harmonizing synergies for wide-ranging parliamentary actions against child trafficking and labour and strengthening South-South and Triangular cooperation; the Parliamentary side event at the World Health Assembly; the Roundtable on water for the Middle East region; the Parliamentary meeting held in conjunction with the UN General Assembly High-level Meeting on HIV/AIDS; the 2016 annual session of the Parliamentary Conference on the WTO; the World e-Parliament Conference; Parliamentary capacity-building and the further implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals; and Mobilizing parliaments for the SDGs.
7. Reports of plenary bodies and specialized committees
At its sitting on 27 October, the Governing Council endorsed the recommendations contained in the reports on the activities of the Forum of Women Parliamentarians, the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians, the Committee on Middle East Questions, 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 of the IPU. It also adopted amendments to the Rules of the Committee on Middle East Questions. The Council approved 10 decisions concerning 129 parliamentarians submitted by the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians. It noted the reservations of the delegations of Cambodia and Fiji concerning the cases in their respective countries.
8. Future inter-parliamentary meetings
At its sitting on 27 October, the Council heard the findings of the on-site mission to St. Petersburg with a view to the 137th Assembly. Final approval of that city as the venue for the 137th IPU Assembly was contingent on the report, whose findings had been positive. The delegation of Ukraine requested a roll-call vote to confirm the Council's decision about the venue for the 137th IPU Assembly. The results of the vote were: 138 affirmative votes, 19 negatives votes and 5 abstentions. The Governing Council reconfirmed its decision to hold the 137th IPU Assembly in St. Petersburg (Russian Federation) from 14 to 18 October 2017.
The Council approved the list of future meetings and other activities to be funded by the IPU’s regular budget and by external sources.Lastly, the new IPU website was launched at the Council's sitting of 27 October. The new site was more dynamic and user-friendly and was available in English, French, Spanish and Arabic. It had been developed with the generous financial and technical support of the Federal National Council of the United Arab Emirates.