PLACE DU PETIT-SACONNEX
1211 GENEVA 19, SWITZERLAND
Havana (Cuba), 1 - 6 April 2001
The proceedings of the 105th Inter-Parliamentary Conference began at the Havana Convention Centre on the morning of Monday, 2 April 2001 with the election by acclamation of Mr. Ricardo Alarcón de Quesada, President of the National Assembly of the People's Power of Cuba, as President of the Conference.
In the afternoon of 5 April, during the General Debate on the
political, economic and social situation in the world, the Conference
was addressed by His Excellency the President of the Council of
State and the Council of Ministers of the Republic of Cuba, Mr.
Fidel Castro Ruz, who spoke of the political, economic and social
developments in the world since 1981, when the IPU had last met
in Cuba. The President placed particular emphasis on the situation
of the developing countries, noting that over the past two decades,
the gap between the poor and the rich had widened dramatically.
He described the difficulties facing his country as a result of
the embargo imposed since 1959, and the measures taken over the
previous ten years during what was known as the special period.
1. Inaugural Ceremony
The 105th Inter-Parliamentary Conference was inaugurated on 1 April at a ceremony in the Plenary Hall of the Havana Convention Centre in the presence of His Excellency Mr. Fidel Castro Ruz. Inaugural addresses were delivered by Mr. Ricardo Alarcón de Quesada, Sir Kieran Prendergast, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs and Representative of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, and Dr. N. Heptulla, President of the Council of the Inter-Parliamentary Union. The ceremony concluded with an address by the President of the Council of State, who declared the 105th Inter-Parliamentary Conference officially open.
Delegations of the Parliaments of the following 124 countries
took part in the work of the Conference: Albania, Algeria, Angola,
Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Bangladesh, Belarus, Belgium,
Benin, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Bulgaria,
Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Cape Verde, Chile, China,
Congo, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic
People's Republic of Korea, Denmark, Djibouti, Ecuador, Egypt,
El Salvador, Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Gabon, Germany,
Ghana, Greece, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Hungary, Iceland, India,
Indonesia, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Iraq, Ireland, Israel,
Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia,
Lebanon, Liberia, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania,
Luxembourg, Malaysia, Mali, Malta, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco,
Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New
Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Panama, Paraguay,
Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Romania,
Russian Federation, Rwanda, San Marino, Sao Tome and Principe,
Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka,
Sudan*, Suriname, Sweden, Switzerland, Syrian Arab Republic, Tajikistan,
Thailand, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Togo, Tunisia,
Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom,
Uruguay, 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) United Nations system: United Nations, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR), United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), United Nations Volunteers (UNV), Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), International Labour Organization (ILO), United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO); (iii) African Parliamentary Union (APU), Amazonian Parliament, Arab Inter-Parliamentary Union, ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Organisation (AIPO), Assemblée parlementaire de la Francophonie (APF), Assembly of the Western European Union (WEU), Association of European Parliamentarians for (Southern) Africa (AWEPA), Maghreb Consultative Council, Nordic Council, Parliamentary Association for Euro-Arab Cooperation (PAEAC), Parliamentary Union of the OIC States (PUOICM); (iv) International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, and the World Federation for United Nations Associations (WFUNA).
Furthermore, national parliaments from the following three countries were represented as observers with a view to future affiliation: Belize, Dominican Republic, Haiti.
Of the total of 1,271 delegates who attended the Conference, 688 were members of national parliaments and 44 were observers. The parliamentarians included 37 presiding officers of parliament, 38 deputy presiding officers and 157 women parliamentarians (22.8%).
3. Choice of a Supplementary Item
The Conference had before it seven requests for the inclusion of a supplementary item presented by the delegations of Cuba, Iraq, Japan, France, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Lao People's Democratic Republic and Spain.
By the start of the first sitting of the Conference on the morning of 2 April, two delegations had withdrawn their proposals: Lao People's Democratic Republic: The role of parliaments in ensuring equitable socio-economic development of land-locked developing countries; and Spain: Parliamentary actions and initiatives to promote effective support measures for disaster-stricken countries.
At the beginning of the consideration of this item, and after taking the floor, the delegation of Iraq communicated in a note to the Presidency that it was withdrawing its proposal: The right of States to appeal to an international juridical body against Security Council resolutions on global economic sanctions under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter, in support of the Cuban proposal. The delegation of the Islamic Republic of Iran took the floor to withdraw its proposal: Parliamentary action to combat international terrorism and organised crime, in particular the production and trafficking of drugs, as a prerequisite for international peace and security at the dawn of the Third Millennium, and expressed the hope that its request would be included as one of the items of the 106th Conference agenda.
Following statements by the authors of the three remaining proposals, a vote was held by roll call with the following outcome:
4. Choice of an Emergency Supplementary Item
At the beginning of the sitting on Monday afternoon, the Conference examined a proposal from the delegation of Germany for an emergency supplementary item to be considered by the Conference entitled: International action to meet the emergency situation in Afghanistan, compounded by the recent destruction of cultural heritage by the Taliban.
Following statements by representatives of the delegations of Germany and the Syrian Arab Republic, the proposal was put to the vote with the following result: 984 votes for and 365 abstentions.
The proposal of the German delegation, having received the required four-fifths majority, was added to the agenda as item 8 (see 5(e) below).
5. Proceedings and Decisions of the Conference and its Study Committees
(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, 2 April, all day on Tuesday, 3 April, on the afternoon of Wednesday, 4 April and all day on Thursday, 5 April. A total of 147 speakers from 124 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: Algeria, Bolivia, Cape Verde, Germany, Luxembourg, Morocco, Panama, Sri Lanka, Syrian Arab Republic and Zimbabwe.
Furthermore, during the afternoon sitting of Monday, 2 April, the Conference heard a keynote speech delivered by Mrs. S. Capeling-Alakija, Executive Co-ordinator of the United Nations Volunteers.
(b) Securing observance of the principles of international law in the interests of world peace and security (Item 4)
This item was considered on 3 and 5 April by the First Committee (Political Questions, International Security and Disarmament), that met in two sittings with its President, Mr. A.H. Hanadzlah (Malaysia), in the chair. The Committee had before it nine memoranda submitted by the delegations of Argentina, Australia, Chile, Congo, Japan, Egypt, France and Venezuela, and by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. The Committee also had before it 20 draft resolutions submitted by the delegations of Australia, Canada, Cuba, Egypt, Estonia, France, Gabon, Germany, Indonesia, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Japan, Kuwait, Philippines, Republic of Korea, Romania, Sudan, Switzerland, United Kingdom, Venezuela, and by the Meeting of Women Parliamentarians. The delegation of Iraq submitted an amendment to the draft resolution submitted by the delegation of Egypt.
Mr. A. Luethold, Deputy Chief of the International Organisations Division of the International Committee of the Red Cross, addressed the Committee on the subject of international humanitarian law. The ICRC also submitted an information document.
A total of 71 speakers from 59 countries took the floor in the two sessions. The meeting also heard statements from 1 associate member and 2 observers. Thereafter, the Committee appointed a drafting committee composed of representatives from Algeria, Australia, Cuba, Egypt, Indonesia, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Nigeria, Panama, South Africa, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. The drafting committee, after electing Mr. T. Paez (Cuba) as its chairman and Mr. J. McKiernan (Australia) as its rapporteur, met throughout the day on 4 April. It used the draft resolution prepared by the delegation of Egypt as the basis for its deliberations but also drew extensively on many of the other texts before it and on the proposals and ideas put forward during the debate in Committee. The consolidated draft was adopted without a vote.
During its sitting on 5 April, the First Committee heard the report by Mr. McKiernan on the work of the drafting committee and examined the text paragraph by paragraph. On behalf of the Meeting of Women Parliamentarians, a representative from Norway suggested an amendment that was accepted without a vote. An amendment introduced by a representative from the Islamic Republic of Iran was also accepted without a vote, as was an amendment submitted by a delegate from New Zealand dealing with a ban on the transport of weapons of mass destruction (operative paragraph 7). Two additional votes were also taken. One referred to the paragraph dealing with humanitarian intervention (operative paragraph 1), while the other related to the establishment of a task force to elaborate an instrument of humanitarian law concerning sanctions; both amendments were rejected.
On the afternoon of 6 April, Mr. McKiernan submitted the First Committee's draft resolution to the Conference. The resolution was adopted by consensus. After its adoption, a member of the delegation of Germany stated that the delegation had proposed an amendment to expand the first part of the draft resolution but, in order to save time, had not pressed it in the plenary. The German delegation requested that the following text be placed in the record: "Non-conformity with internationally accepted human rights accords cannot be justified by referring to the principle of non-interference if there is a clear legal basis or international responsibility for human rights".
(c) Education and culture as essential factors in promoting the participation of men and women in political life and as prerequisites for the development of peoples (Item 5)
This item was considered on 4 and 6 April by the Fourth Committee (Education, Science, Culture and Environment). The proceedings of this Committee were chaired by its President, Mr. J.A. Coloma (Chile). It had before it 13 memoranda submitted by the delegations of Australia, Canada, Chile, Congo, Egypt, Estonia, Finland, India, Iraq, Japan, Russian Federation, Venezuela, and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, as well as an information document submitted by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and 18 draft resolutions submitted by the delegations of the parliaments of the following countries: Germany, Australia, Canada, Chile, Congo, Cuba, Egypt, Estonia, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Japan, Kuwait, Philippines, Republic of Korea, United Kingdom, Sudan and Venezuela.
A total of 66 speakers from 61 countries and one observer took part in the debate held throughout the day of 4 April. During the debate, the Committee appointed a drafting committee comprising representatives of the parliaments of the following countries: Australia, Benin, Cuba, Egypt, Finland, Germany, Japan, Namibia, Republic of Korea, Uruguay and Zambia. At the invitation of the Committee President, the UNESCO representatives participated as advisers. The drafting committee, after electing Mrs. J. Moylan (Australia) as its chairman and Mrs. F. Al-Refaie (Egypt) as rapporteur, met on 5 April. It took the draft resolution submitted by the delegation of Germany as a basis for its work but also drew extensively on many of the other texts before it and on the proposals and ideas put forward during the debate in Committee. The resulting consolidated draft was adopted without a vote.
On the morning of 6 April, the Fourth Committee examined the text submitted to it by the drafting committee and incorporated several amendments, one of which gave rise to a vote. Subsequently, it adopted the draft resolution as a whole without a vote.
In the afternoon of 6 April, Mrs. Al-Refaie submitted the Fourth Committee's draft resolution to the 105th Conference, which adopted it by consensus.
(d) Contribution of the world's parliaments to the struggle
against terrorism, in conformity with resolution 55/158 of the
United Nations General Assembly (Item 7)
Having decided to add this item to its agenda, the Conference referred it to the First Study Committee (Political Questions, International Security and Disarmament), which examined it on 4 April with its President, Mr. A.H. Hanadzlah (Malaysia), in the chair. The Committee had before it one draft resolution submitted by the delegation of Cuba, the author of the initial proposal for the supplementary item.
On the morning of 4 April, the Committee held a debate on this item, in which 28 speakers from 26 countries took part. At the end of the debate, the Committee appointed a drafting committee composed of delegates from Algeria, Australia, Bangladesh, Bulgaria, Cuba, Morocco, Niger, Republic of Korea, Sri Lanka, Sudan and United Kingdom. The drafting committee met on the morning of 5 April and began its work by electing Mr. A. Somlyay (Australia) as chairman and Mr. A. El Kadiri (Morocco) as rapporteur. Working on the basis of the Cuban draft, the committee arrived at a consolidated text, which was approved without dissent.
On the morning of 6 April, the First Study Committee heard the report of Mr. El Kadiri and adopted one amendment to the draft text. The modified draft resolution was approved without a vote. On the afternoon of the same day, the rapporteur submitted the draft text to the final plenary sitting of the Conference, which adopted it by consensus.
(e) International action to meet the emergency situation in Afghanistan, compounded by the recent destruction of cultural heritage by the Taliban (Item 8)
At its sitting on 2 April, the Conference decided to include this item on its agenda as an emergency supplementary item. It then decided that it would be referred to a drafting committee chaired by a member of the Conference steering committee and composed of representatives of the various geopolitical groups as well as a representative of Germany, the sponsor of the item. The group of Latin American and Caribbean countries did not nominate a representative and the committee thus comprised representatives of the following parliaments: Algeria, France, Germany, India, Jordan, Kazakhstan and Kenya.
The committee met on 3 April with Mrs B. Mugo (Kenya) in the chair and Mrs. A. Koester-Lossack (Germany) as rapporteur. It reviewed the disquieting situation in Afghanistan characterised by widespread violations of human rights and international humanitarian law. Members also expressed grave concern over the destruction of humankind's cultural heritage in Afghanistan and called for action by member States of the United Nations to take more stringent measures to ensure that the Taliban regime complied with internationally accepted norms.
The committee had before it a draft resolution presented by the delegation of Germany. It scrutinised this draft, amending and enriching it with proposals from a number of its members. The amended text was then adopted unanimously for submission to the Conference.
At its sitting in the afternoon of 6 April, the Conference examined and adopted this draft resolution by consensus.
(f) Amendments to the Statutes and Rules of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (Item 6)
At its sitting on 6 April, the Conference adopted the amendments to the Statutes, as proposed by the Council, which are designed to reflect more adequately the existing institutional link between the national parliaments of sovereign States and the IPU as their world organisation.