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(Mexico City, 18-23 April 2004)
The proceedings of the 110th Assembly opened at the Centro de Convenciones Sheraton Centro Histórico in Mexico City on the morning of Monday, 19 April, with the election by acclamation of Mr. Enrique Jackson Ramírez, President of the Senate of Mexico, as President of the Assembly.
On the morning of Tuesday, 20 April, during the General Debate on the political, economic and social situation in the world, the Assembly heard an address by Ms. Jessica Lange, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, who highlighted the role of parliamentarians in the protection of children and recalled their duties in the fields of legislative oversight and advocacy to prevent the abuse and exploitation of children. On the same occasion, the IPU and UNICEF launched a joint Handbook for Parliamentarians on Child Protection and invited Members to make use of the Handbook and ensure follow-up with concrete action at the national level.
In the afternoon, the Assembly was addressed by the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Mexico, Mr. Luis Ernesto Derbez, who emphasized that the Federal Government of Mexico shared the concerns of the Inter-Parliamentary Union in its work to promote dialogue and cooperation in the search for peace and security. He described the history of his country's diplomacy, marked by continuity and enriched by new principles, saying that Mexico had a duty to defend the weaker nations and strive for a more just world order. He then presented the six pillars of the diplomatic strategy of the Government of President Fox, namely, protecting human rights, defending Mexicans living abroad, upholding multilateralism and international law, disseminating the culture of Mexico, promoting Mexico economically and commercially, and, lastly, giving priority to relations with the country's principal strategic allies.
1. Inaugural Ceremony
The 110th Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union was inaugurated on 18 April at a ceremony in the Teatro de la Ciudad in the presence of His Excellency the President of the United States of Mexico, Mr. Vicente Fox Quesada. Inaugural addresses were delivered by Mr. Enrique Jackson Ramírez, President of the Mexican Senate, Mr. Danilo Türk, Representative of the Secretary-General of the United Nations and Assistant Secretary General for Political Affairs, and Mr. Sergio Páez, President of the Inter-Parliamentary Union. The ceremony concluded with an address by the President of the Republic, who declared the 110th Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union officially open.
Delegations of the Parliaments of the following 122 countries took part in the work of the Assembly : Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belarus, Belgium, Benin, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Canada, Cape Verde, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Côte d'Ivoire, Croatia, Cuba, Czech Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Denmark, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Gabon, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Guatemala, Guinea, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lebanon, Liberia, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Malaysia, Mali, Malta, Mauritania, Mexico, Monaco, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Romania, Russian Federation, Rwanda, Samoa, San Marino, Sao Tome and Principe, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia and Montenegro, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sudan, Suriname, Sweden, Switzerland, Syrian Arab Republic, Thailand, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Togo, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, Uruguay, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
The following Associate Members also took part in the Assembly: the Andean Parliament, the Central American Parliament, the European Parliament, the Latin American Parliament, and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.
Observers included representatives of: (i) Palestine; (ii) the United Nations system: United Nations, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), United Nations Volunteers (UNV), International Labour Organization (ILO), United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), World Heath Organization (WHO), International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD); (iii) Council of Europe, League of Arab States; (iv) African Parliamentary Union (APU), Arab Inter-Parliamentary Union, Assembly of the Western European Union (WEU), Confederation of Parliaments of the Americas, Association of European Parliamentarians for Africa (AWEPA), Indigenous Parliament of the Americas, Interparliamentary Assembly of the Eurasian Economic Commission, Inter-Parliamentary Assembly of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), Maghreb Consultative Council, Nordic Council, Parliament of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Parliamentary Assembly of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (PABSEC), Parliamentary Assembly of the Union of Belarus and the Russian Federation, Parliamentary Union of the Organization of Islamic Conference Members (PUOICM); (v) Amnesty International, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC); (vi) International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International IDEA).
Of the total of 1,197 delegates who attended the Assembly, 616 were members of national parliaments. The parliamentarians included 31 presiding officers of parliaments, 37 deputy presiding officers and 162 women parliamentarians (26.3%).
3. Choice of an Emergency Item
At the beginning of the consideration of the item, the Assembly had before it two requests for the inclusion of an emergency item. The first proposal was submitted by the delegations of Indonesia and Lebanon, with the support of the Arab Groups, under the title The role of parliaments in stopping acts of violence, and the building of the separation wall, in order to create conditions conducive to peace and a lasting solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. The second proposal was presented by the Twelve Plus Group and the Latin American Group under the title The role of parliaments in the fight against terrorism: promoting a peaceful dialogue among cultures and civilisations.
A third proposal was presented by the delegation of Mexico under the title The role of parliaments and the IPU in ensuring respect for international law and the fulfilment of the decisions of international institutions. In presenting the item, the delegate of Mexico drew attention to the need to respect the findings of the International Court of Justice which had recently called for a review of the death sentences handed down by US courts on 51 Mexican citizens. The IPU had repeatedly called for respect for international law and taken position against the death penalty. Nonetheless, the Steering Committee had ruled that the proposal was not admissible under the stringent rules governing the emergency item. Following statements by the delegations of Indonesia and Spain on behalf of the authors of the two proposals, a vote was taken by roll-call with the following outcome:
4. Proceedings and Decisions of the Assembly and its Standing 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, under the overall theme of Reconciliation and Partnership, took place in the morning and afternoon of Monday, 19 April, Tuesday, 20 April, and Thursday, 22 April. A total of 119 speakers from 110 delegations took part in the debate, which was chaired by the President of the Assembly. During the various sittings, the President invited the Vice-Presidents from the delegations of Cameroon, Egypt, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Germany, Italy, Latvia, Republic of Korea, Switzerland, Syrian Arab Republic, and Uganda to replace him in the chair.
(b) First Standing Committee: Peace and International Security
(i) Promoting international reconciliation, helping to bring stability to regions of conflict, and assisting with post-conflict reconstruction (Item 4)The item was considered both in the morning and afternoon of 19 April by the First Standing Committee (Peace and International Security), with the Committee President, Mr. E. Menem (Argentina), in the chair. In addition to hearing a report and preliminary draft resolution prepared by the co-Rapporteurs, Senator R. del Picchia (France) and Mr. R. V. Mongbé (Benin), the Committee was presented with amendments to the draft resolution submitted by the delegations of Belarus, Cuba, Germany, India, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Romania, Sweden and the United Kingdom. Sub-amendments were later received from the delegation of Slovenia.
During the debate on that item, a total of 56 speakers took the floor, including representatives from 52 countries, the European Parliament, United Nations Volunteers, Amnesty International, and Ms. S. Damen-Masri (Jordan), speaking on behalf of the Meeting of Women Parliamentarians. At the end of the second session, the Committee appointed a drafting committee composed of representatives of Algeria, Argentina, Belgium, Colombia, Gabon, Germany, Indonesia, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Morocco, Netherlands and Nigeria. The two co-Rapporteurs of the First Standing Committee were invited to participate as advisers in the work of the drafting committee.
The drafting committee met on 20 April and began by appointing Mr. P. Moriau (Belgium) as its president and Mr. B. Shehu (Nigeria) as rapporteur. It examined over 75 amendments and sub-amendments to the preliminary draft resolution. At the end of the deliberations, the drafting committee adopted the consolidated draft as a whole, by consensus.
On 21 April, the First Standing Committee considered the draft and made one further sub-amendment to it. Several delegations took the floor to express their views on some of the issues raised in the resolution and, subsequently, the draft resolution as a whole was adopted by consensus by the First Standing Committee.
On the afternoon of 23 April, the text of the resolution was presented to the Assembly by the designated rapporteur, Mr. P. Moriau (Belgium). Following the adoption of the resolution by consensus, two delegations expressed reservations concerning certain paragraphs of the resolution. The delegation of the United Kingdom expressed its reservation with respect to the wording of the second paragraph of the preamble, in which it would have liked to see the exceptionally grave cases of humanitarian catastrophe or genocide included as a further exception to the exclusive power of the Security Council to decide on measures involving the use of armed force as defined in Chapter VII of the Charter. The delegation of India expressed a reservation to operative paragraphs 15 and 26.
Moreover, the delegations of Guatemala and Belgium sought clarifications regarding the meaning of operative paragraph 33, which called upon the IPU to play a more meaningful part in debates, forms of concerted action and negotiations involving peace and security through its Permanent Observer. The President of the First Standing Committee as well as the President of the Assembly confirmed that the intention was for the full membership of the institution and all its organs to make a concerted effort to that end.
(ii) Choice of subject item and co-Rapporteurs for the First Standing Committee at the 111th AssemblyFollowing a recommendation from its Bureau, the Committee decided to propose to the Assembly to include in the agenda of the 111th Assembly a subject item entitled The role of parliaments in strengthening multilateral regimes for non-proliferation of weapons and for disarmament, in the light of new security challenges. It also approved the nomination of Mr. J. Wilkinson (United Kingdom) as a co-Rapporteur on the item. The item and the nomination were subsequently approved by the Assembly, which also appointed Ms. S. Damen-Masri (Jordan) as co-Rapporteur.
(iii) Activities of the Bureau of the First Standing CommitteeThe Bureau met on 21 April with the Committee President, Mr. E. Menem (Argentina) in the chair. The Bureau examined proposals for the item to be debated by the First Standing Committee at the 111th Assembly as well as the candidatures of co-Rapporteurs for the item.
(c) Second Standing Committee: Sustainable Development, Finance and Trade
(i) Working towards an equitable environment for international commerce: the issues of trade in agricultural products and the access to basic medicines (Item 5)The Committee held two sittings on 20 and 22 April with its President, Mr. E. Gudfinnsson (Iceland), in the chair. In addition to a report and preliminary draft resolution prepared by the co-Rapporteurs, Ms. O.A. Tamboura (Mali) and Mr. T. Colman (United Kingdom), the Committee had before it amendments to the draft resolution submitted by the delegations of Belarus, Belgium, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Japan, Jordan, Kuwait, Philippines and Sweden, as well as a sub-amendment submitted by Cameroon.
A total of 49 speakers from 43 countries and the World Health Organization took the floor during the debate. Following the debate, the Committee appointed a drafting committee composed of representatives of Belgium, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chile, China, Ecuador, Egypt, Japan, Switzerland, Russian Federation, Uganda and the United Kingdom. Five of the 12 members of the drafting committee were women parliamentarians.
The drafting committee met on 21 April. At the beginning of its work, it appointed Mr. P. Sendé (Cameroon) as its president and Ms. S. Mugerwa (Uganda) as rapporteur. The committee examined over 40 amendments and sub-amendments to the preliminary draft resolution and accepted nearly half of them, fully or in part. Some ten further amendments were accepted - if not in letter then in spirit, as their content was similar to that of already adopted amendments. Having resorted to voting on three occasions, the drafting committee adopted the consolidated draft as a whole, without a vote. On 22 April, the Second Standing Committee considered the draft and made three sub-amendments to it, including one by a vote. A further sub-amendment tabled by the delegation of China to operative paragraph 5 was rejected as a result of a vote. It was agreed, however, that the Rapporteur of the Committee would inform the Assembly of the reasons why a specific reference to China was retained in the paragraph and would also mention the fact that, according to the Chinese delegation, cotton subsidies no longer existed in China. The draft resolution as a whole was subsequently adopted by the Second Standing Committee, by consensus.
On the afternoon of 23 April, the draft was submitted to the plenary sitting of the Assembly. Following the adoption of the resolution by consensus, a number of delegations expressed their reservations concerning certain paragraphs of the resolution. The delegation of China had a reservation on operative paragraph 5 in view of the fact that, following its accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO), China had already removed its cotton subsidies. The delegation of Latvia expressed its reservation on operative paragraph 7 because it considered necessary to maintain agricultural subsidies in Latvia as a transitional measure for some years to come. The delegations of Morocco and Burkina Faso expressed reservations on operative paragraph 7 on the grounds that they were in favour of the total elimination of all subsidies rather than a radical reduction of agricultural subsidies only. The delegation of Mexico also expressed its reservation on operative paragraph 7, as it believed that subsidies should be removed gradually and that countries should be free to decide how to proceed. Finally, the delegation of Australia announced that it did not wish to register a formal reservation on the text of the resolution but, by way of explanation of its vote, wished to point out that the resolution did not go far enough in the advocacy of a free, fair and equitable multilateral trading system and that, contrary to the suggestion in operative paragraph 7, all agricultural subsidies should be removed without delay.
(ii) Choice of subject item and co-Rapporteurs for the Second Standing Committee at the 111th AssemblyFollowing a recommendation of its Bureau, the Committee decided to propose to the Assembly to include in the agenda of the 111th Assembly an item entitled The role of parliaments in preserving biodiversity. It also approved the nomination of Ms. S. Mugerwa (Uganda) and Mr. P. Günter (Switzerland) as co-Rapporteurs on the item. The item and nominations were subsequently approved by the Assembly.
(iii) Activities of the Bureau of the Second Standing CommitteeThe Bureau met on 21 April with the Committee President, Mr. E. Gudfinnsson (Iceland) in the chair. The Bureau examined proposals for the item to be debated by the Second Standing Committee at the 111th Assembly as well as the candidatures of co-Rapporteurs for the item.
Having been joined by representatives of the Thai National Assembly and the Brazilian National Congress, the Bureau then acted as the Preparatory Committee for the Parliamentary Meeting on the occasion of UNCTAD XI, to be held by the IPU in São Paulo (Brazil) on 11 and 12 June 2004. In that capacity, the Bureau examined preparations for the Meeting in São Paulo, exchanged views with regard to the choice of its keynote speakers and considered the first draft of the declaration to be adopted by the Meeting at its final plenary.
(d) Third Standing Committee: Democracy and Human Rights
(i) Furthering parliamentary democracy in order to protect human rights and encourage reconciliation among peoples and partnership among nations (Item 6)The item was considered on 20, 21 and 22 April by the Third Standing Committee (Democracy and Human Rights). The Committee held two sittings with its President, Ms. R. Kadaga (Uganda), in the chair. The First Vice-President of the Committee, Mr. Jay-Kun Yoo (Republic of Korea), also chaired the proceedings during the first sitting of the Committee on 20 April. The Committee had before it a report and a draft resolution prepared by the co-Rapporteurs, Ms. L. Salas-Salazar (Costa Rica) and Mr. K. Chutikul (Thailand), as well as amendments to the draft resolution submitted by Andorra, Cuba, Egypt, France, Germany, Indonesia, Japan, Jordan, Romania, Sweden and the United Arab Emirates, and sub-amendments submitted by Switzerland.
A total of 45 speakers took the floor during the debate. Following the debate, the Committee appointed a drafting committee composed of the representatives of Algeria, Australia, India, Indonesia, Italy, Kenya, Lebanon, Nigeria, Sweden, Uruguay and Venezuela. The two co-Rapporteurs assisted the drafting committee in its work. The Secretary General of International IDEA, Ms. K. Fogg, also assisted the committee as an adviser.
The drafting committee met on 21 April. At the beginning of its work, it appointed Mr. U. Chukwumerije (Nigeria) as its president and Ms. A. M. Narti (Sweden) as rapporteur. The drafting committee examined in detail the draft resolution prepared by the co-Rapporteurs and enhanced it with some of the proposed amendments.
On 22 April, the Third Standing Committee considered the consolidated draft resolution and adopted it, by acclamation, with minor amendments. On the afternoon of 23 April, the decision was endorsed by consensus by the plenary sitting of the Assembly. In so doing, the Assembly approved the recommendation by the Third Standing Committee to encourage the IPU and International IDEA to strengthen their cooperation, especially as it related to the conclusions of the 110th Assembly. Following adoption of the resolution, the delegation of India expressed reservations regarding operative paragraph C.9 on the International Criminal Court. Although it supported the whole resolution, it was not in a position to support that particular paragraph, since the jurisdiction of the Court did not cover terrorism.
(ii) Choice of subject item and co-Rapporteurs for the Third Standing Committee at the 111th AssemblyActing on a recommendation of its Bureau, the Committee decided to propose to the Assembly the inclusion on the agenda of the 111th Assembly of a subject item entitled Beijing +10: an evaluation from a parliamentary perspective. It further approved the nomination of Ms. M. Mensah-Williams (Namibia) and Mr. J. Winkler (Germany) as co-Rapporteurs on the item. The item and nominations were subsequently approved by the Assembly.
(iii) Other activities of the Bureau of the Third Standing CommitteeThe Bureau of the Third Standing Committee discussed issues relating to child protection. The Bureau welcomed the production and launch of the IPU/UNICEF Handbook for Parliamentarians on Child Protection which had been developed with its input. It recommended that Members ensure adequate follow-up to the Handbook by (a) ensuring its dissemination in all parliaments; (b) translating the Handbook into the national languages; (c) organising a launch of the Handbook; and (d) developing a timetable for child protection legislation and oversight.
The Bureau also suggested that the IPU regularly monitor progress made in the field of child protection legislation. It discussed the idea of setting up an online resource centre on child protection that could form an integral part of the IPU Web site, and could feature an inventory of legislation and oversight work in different countries, and best practices for child protection.
Lastly, the Bureau expressed the wish that IPU Standing Committees consider addressing child protection issues at future Assemblies.
(e) Emergency Item
The role of parliaments in stopping acts of violence, and the building of a separation wall, in order to create conditions conducive to peace and a lasting solution to the Palestinian–Israeli conflict (Item 9)On Tuesday, 21 April, the Assembly decided to include the topic on its agenda. It then decided to refer it to a drafting committee.
The drafting committee appointed Mr. J.E. Bermúdez-Méndez (Mexico) as its president and Ms. S. Carstairs (Canada) as rapporteur. It was composed of representatives of the delegations of Australia, Canada, Egypt, Indonesia, Israel, Mexico, Morocco, Namibia and Sudan. The drafting committee met on Wednesday, 21 April. It adopted a draft resolution by consensus, with the exception of one paragraph referring to targeted assassinations and suicide bombings, on which Israel expressed a reservation.
On Friday 23 April, the draft resolution was adopted by consensus by the Assembly. The delegation of Israel expressed a reservation regarding the wording of operative paragraph 2. The delegation of the Islamic Republic of Iran expressed reservations on those parts of the text which might be construed to imply recognition of Israel, and the delegation of Sudan expressed a general reservation regarding the resolution. The observer delegation of Palestine expressed concern regarding the wording of operative paragraph 3, requesting that the word "walls" be replaced by the words "the separation wall", and that a reference be included regarding attacks against Palestinian civilians.
5. Amendments to the Statutes and Rules (Item 7)
During the last sitting of the Assembly on Friday, 23 April, and in keeping with Article 28.1 of the Statutes, the Assembly unanimously approved the proposal to modify Articles 10.3 and 15.2(c) of the Statutes following the favourable opinion expressed by the IPU Governing Council. The amendments were necessary to adapt the terms of those Articles to the interpretative clauses regarding the question of gender distribution within delegations to the Assembly.