PLACE DU PETIT-SACONNEX
1211 GENEVA 19, SWITZERLAND
Berlin (Germany), 10-15 October 1999
The proceedings of the 102nd Inter-Parliamentary Conference began in the International Conference Center in Berlin on the morning of Monday, 11 October 1999, with the election by acclamation of Mr. Wolfgang Thierse, President of the German Bundestag, as President of the Conference.
On the afternoon of 11 October, introductory addresses were delivered by Mr. Gerhard Schröder, Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany, Mr. Cornelio Sommaruga, President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and Mrs. Mary Robinson, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, and the President of the Conference, Mr. W. Thierse, made a statement.
At the opening of the last meeting, held on the afternoon of Friday, 15 October, President Thierse made a statement on behalf of the Conference on the coup d'etat by the military in Pakistan. In his closing speech, Mr. Thierse made a statement about the murder of three United Nations staff members in Kosovo and Burundi, and the abduction of UN observers in Georgia. He also encouraged the parties concerned to continue the peace process in Burundi, expressing the hope that the negotiations would prove successful. Lastly, speaking on behalf of all delegates to the Conference, he expressed sorrow at the news of the death of Mr. Julius Nyerere, former President of the United Republic of Tanzania.
The 102nd Inter-Parliamentary Conference was inaugurated on 10 October at a ceremony in the Reichstag Building in the presence of H.E. Mr. Johannes Rau, President of the Federal Republic of Germany. Inaugural addresses were delivered, in succession, by Mr. W. Thierse, President of the Conference; Mr. Vladimir Petrovsky, Under-Secretary-General and Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva, who delivered a message from the UN Secretary-General, Mr. Kofi Annan; and Mrs. Najma A. Heptulla, Acting President of the Council of the Inter-Parliamentary Union. The ceremony concluded with an address by H.E. President Rau.
Extracts from the speeches delivered on that occasion will be published in the Inter-Parliamentary Bulletin (N° 2, 1999).
The Parliaments of the following 131 countries took part in the work of the Conference: Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Belarus, Belgium, Benin, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Cape Verde, Chile, China, Colombia, Congo, Costa Rica, Côte d'Ivoire, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Denmark, Djibouti, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Estonia, Ethiopia, Fiji, Finland, France, Gabon, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Guinea, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Latvia, Lebanon, Liberia, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malawi, Malaysia, Mali, Malta, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Rwanda, San Marino, Senegal, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Sweden, Switzerland, Syrian Arab Republic, Thailand, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Togo, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Yugoslavia, Zambia, Zimbabwe.
The following Associate Members also took part in the Conference: the Andean Parliament, the Central American Parliament, the European Parliament, the Latin American Parliament and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.
The observers included representatives of: (i) Palestine; (ii) the United Nations system: the United Nations, the World Bank, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, UNAIDS, the International Labour Organization (ILO), the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP); (iii) the Council of Europe, the International Organization for Migration (IOM); (iv) the Assembly of the Western European Union, the Association of European Parliamentarians for (Southern) Africa (AWEPA), the Parliamentary Assembly of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (PABSEC), the Parliamentary Association for Euro-Arab Cooperation (PAEAC), the Maghreb Consultative Council, the Nordic Council, the Amazonian Parliament, the Union of African Parliaments (UAP), the Arab Inter-Parliamentary Union; (v) Amnesty International, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.
Of the total of 1,599 delegates who attended the Conference, 722 were parliamentarians and 56 were observers. The parliamentarians included 49 presiding officers of parliaments, 37 deputy presiding officers and 146 women parliamentarians (20 %).
(a) Supplementary item
When this agenda item was addressed on the morning of 11 October, the Conference had before it six requests for the inclusion of a supplementary item (the delegation of Romania had announced the withdrawal of its request for an item entitled Preparing for old age - a challenge for the twenty-first century: parliamentary action to promote and protect the rights of older persons and to ensure an active old age and an effective dialogue between generations, and the delegations of Germany and Mexico (the latter acting on behalf of the Group of Latin American countries) had decided to combine the proposals of their two parliaments). The originators of three proposed supplementary items then announced the withdrawal of their requests: the delegation of Italy for an item entitled Action by national parliaments to ensure the speedy ratification of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, the delegation of Israel for an item on Mobilisation of the international community on behalf of earthquake victims in the Mediterranean region and the Group of the Islamic Republic of Iran for an item concerning Promotion of refugee protection through a parliamentary and legislative contribution to the principle of burden-sharing in solidarity with the countries and regions worst affected by mass movements of refugees. As a result, the Conference had before it three requests. Following statements by the originators, a vote was taken by roll call with the following outcome:
The joint proposal by the Parliaments of Germany and Mexico, having received not only the necessary two-thirds majority but also the highest number of affirmative votes, was added to the agenda as item 6.
The Conference had before it a request from the Parliament of Portugal for inclusion in the agenda of an emergency supplementary item entitled The troubling situation in East Timor. Following a statement by the originating Parliament and a statement against the proposal by a delegate of the Parliament of Indonesia, the proposal was put to the vote. The result was 749 votes to 361, with 273 abstentions. The proposal was therefore rejected since it had failed to obtain the requisite four-fifths majority. The delegation of Australia made a statement in explanation of its vote.
(a) General Debate on the political, economic and social situation in the world (Item 3)
The General Debate on the political, economic and social situation in the world took place on the afternoon of Monday, 11 October, all day on Tuesday, 12 October, on Wednesday, 13 October, from 4 p.m. to 6.30 p.m. and all day on Thursday, 14 October. A total of 153 speakers from 132 delegations took part in the debate, which was chaired by the President of the Conference. The President invited the Vice-Presidents belonging to the delegations of the following countries to replace him in the Chair: Brazil, Bulgaria, Chile, Côte d'Ivoire, Ethiopia, Hungary, Iceland, Jordan, Monaco, Norway, South Africa and Syrian Arab Republic.
Various conflict situations throughout the world, including that in East Timor, and the globalisation process figured prominently in the debate.
This item was considered on 12 and 14 October by the Second Committee (Parliamentary, Juridical and Human Rights Questions). The sittings were chaired by Mr. J. T. Nonô (Brazil). The Committee had before it 10 memoranda submitted by the delegations of Australia, Chile, Congo, Denmark, Egypt, Iraq, Sudan, Switzerland, Venezuela and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. It also had before it information documents submitted by the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross. Lastly, it had before it 22 draft resolutions submitted by the delegations of Australia, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Denmark, Egypt, Germany, Indonesia, Iraq, Italy, Kuwait, Netherlands, Philippines, Romania, Senegal, Sudan, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, Venezuela and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.
Some 67 speakers took the floor during the debate on this item on 12 October. After the debate, the Committee appointed a drafting committee comprising representatives of the delegations of Algeria, Angola, Australia, Cambodia, Egypt, Ghana, Indonesia, Italy, Norway, Peru, Sudan and Switzerland. Representatives of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the International Committee of the Red Cross participated in the work of the committee as advisers. The drafting committee met all day on 12 October, with Mr. J. McKiernan (Australia) in the Chair and Ms. B. Gadient (Switzerland) as Rapporteur. It selected the text submitted by the delegation of Canada as the basis for preparing the draft resolution. It then drew on the other texts and took on board suggestions from members of the committee to produce a consolidated text. The resulting draft resolution was adopted by consensus by the drafting committee.
At its sitting on the afternoon of 14 October, the Second Committee heard a report by the Rapporteur of the drafting committee, Ms. Gadient, and considered the various sections of the draft resolution. A number of amendments were introduced to the text. Finally, the entire draft resolution was adopted without a vote by the Committee. The Committee then held the statutory election of its officers. Following the adoption of the draft resolution by the Second Committee, the delegation of China expressed reservations on the provisions relating to the International Criminal Court and anti-personnel landmines.
Ms. Gadient presented the conclusions of the Second Committee to the Conference on the afternoon of 15 October. The delegation of Cuba expressed reservations on the provisions relating to the International Criminal Court and landmines. The delegation of Peru expressed reservations concerning preambular paragraphs 8, 9, 10 and 11 and operative paragraphs 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9. The delegation of Uruguay requested a separate vote on section III of the operative part of the draft relating to the International Criminal Court. The delegations of Australia and Canada opposed the request. A roll-call vote was therefore taken on whether or not to have a separate vote on this part of the resolution. The motion was defeated by 1,004 votes to 222, with 158 abstentions. The Conference then adopted the resolution without a vote. After the adoption of the text, the delegation of the Syrian Arab Republic expressed reservations on the paragraphs concerning the International Criminal Court and anti-personnel landmines. The delegations of Mexico and Uruguay also expressed reservations concerning the whole of section III of the operative part relating to the International Criminal Court.
This item was considered on 13 and 15 October by the Third Committee (Economic and Social Questions) which met with its President, Mr. H. Gjellerod (Denmark), in the Chair. The Committee had before it 13 memoranda, submitted by delegations from Argentina, Australia, Chile, Congo, Egypt, Hungary, India, Iraq, Japan, Malaysia, Venezuela and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, and by Mr. C. Becerra (Argentina). The Committee also had before it 25 draft resolutions submitted by Argentina, Australia, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Egypt, France, Gabon, Germany, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Japan, Kuwait, Malaysia, Mexico, Philippines, Russian Federation, Senegal, United Kingdom, Venezuela, Mr. Rubeo (Argentina) and the Meeting of Women Parliamentarians. Two information documents prepared respectively by the IPU Secretariat and the World Bank were also before the Committee.
Mr. J. Ritzley, Vice-President, World Bank, responsible for development policy, opened the discussions with a statement. A total of 69 speakers from 62 countries and 2 international organisations took part in the subsequent debate that took place throughout the day on 13 October. Thereafter, the Committee appointed a drafting committee composed of representatives from Algeria, Australia, Benin, Colombia, Germany, India, Iraq, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico and the United Kingdom. In its work, the drafting committee benefited from the advice of Ms. C. von Monbart, senior Counsellor of the World Bank. The drafting committee, after electing Mrs. C. Gallus (Australia) as its President and Mr. Y.K. Alagh (India) as its Rapporteur, met throughout the day on 14 October. It used the draft resolution prepared by the delegation of Malaysia as the basis for its deliberations but also drew extensively on many of the other texts before it and took proposals from the floor. Although the consolidated draft was adopted without a vote, the drafting committee took a vote on one occasion, rejecting the Iraqi delegate's proposal to introduce a paragraph dealing with economic embargoes.
On 15 October, the Third Committee, after hearing the report by Mr. Y.K. Alagh on the work of the drafting committee, examined the proposed text paragraph by paragraph and dealt with a number of proposed amendments. Whereas 4 amendments were adopted without a vote, voting was necessary to decide the fate of 13 others, 3 of which were adopted and 10 defeated. The text of the draft resolution as a whole was thereafter adopted by 27 votes to none, with 3 abstentions.
On the afternoon of 15 October, Mr. Y.K. Alagh submitted the Third Committee's draft resolution to the Conference. The delegation of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya proposed inserting a new paragraph after operative paragraph 16. The Conference adopted this paragraph in accordance with Rule 17(4) of the Conference Rules by 611 votes to 607, with 160 abstentions. Thereafter, the draft resolution as a whole was adopted without a vote. After the adoption of the text, the delegation of Japan expressed reservations on operative paragraph 15 and objected to new paragraph 17 adopted on the proposal of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya.
Having decided to add this item to its agenda, the Conference referred it to the Second Committee (Parliamentary, Juridical and Human Rights Questions), which examined it on 13 and 15 October with its President, Mr. J.T. Nonô (Brazil), in the Chair. The Committee had before it two draft resolutions, the first submitted jointly by the delegations of Germany and Mexico (on behalf of the Latin American countries) and the second by the Canadian delegation.
On the morning of 13 October, the Committee held a debate on this item, in which 27 speakers took part. At the end of the debate, the Committee appointed a drafting committee composed of delegates from Algeria, Germany, Hungary, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Mexico, Romania and Sudan. The drafting committee met on the morning of 14 October and began its work by electing Mrs. A. Köster-Lossack (Germany) as President and Rapporteur. Taking the joint German/Mexican draft as the basis for its work, the committee adopted virtually all of its contents, with modifications. It also supplemented it with amendments tabled by the participants, especially those from Algeria, Islamic Republic of Iran and Romania. These related primarily to refugees and the planned 2001 World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance. On this basis, it arrived at a consolidated text, which was approved without dissent.
On the morning of 15 October, the Committee heard the report of Mrs. Köster-Lossack and adopted a number of amendments to the draft text. The major changes consisted of insertions on the subject of refugees caused by environmental disasters. The modified draft resolution was approved by 33 votes to none, with one abstention.
On the afternoon of 15 October, the Rapporteur submitted the draft text to the final plenary sitting of the Conference. The Canadian delegation proposed the insertion of four new paragraphs relating to discrimination based on sexual orientation. These amendments were rejected by 362 votes to 810, with 187 abstentions. Thereafter, the resolution as a whole was adopted without a vote.