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(Geneva, 17-19 October 2005)
1. Opening of the proceedings
The 113th Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union opened its proceedings at the Geneva International Conference Centre in the afternoon of Monday, 17 October 2005. The President of the IPU, Mr. Sergio Páez, welcomed the participants and declared the 113th Assembly officially open. He stated that since the start of his mandate, the IPU had gained greater respect in the international system; it had found its political voice and undertaken a much wider range of activities that served to bolster political representation in the world. Since obtaining the status of observer at the United Nations, the IPU had vastly augmented its cooperation with specialized United Nations agencies, thereby setting multilateralism on a firmer footing; it had deployed a panoply of technical assistance activities to emerging and other parliaments, and promoted democratic values and practices on every continent.
Following the official opening, the President of the IPU was elected President of the Assembly and the Vice-President of the Executive Committee, Mr. R. Salles, was elected Vice-President. After the adoption of an emergency item by the Assembly on the subject of natural disasters, the Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), Mr. J.-W. Lee, delivered a speech informing the participants about the status of avian flu in the world, and the various measures to be taken in the face of a possible influenza pandemic. Mr. Lee, referring to the probability of a human influenza pandemic, stressed that legislators could play an important role, as the parliamentary community could be directly supportive of preparedness and communication plans, for example by making sure that all constituents were well-informed about the situation as it emerged.
Following his speech, the 113th Assembly unanimously adopted a statement expressing its alarm at the outbreak of avian influenza in various countries and the international propagation of the disease.
At the start of the closing sitting of the Assembly, the President of the National Council of Switzerland, Ms. T. Meyer-Kaelin, delivered a speech in which she reiterated her country's commitment to the IPU, of which her parliament had been a Member for 114 years, and recalled the various recommendations adopted by the IPU which should guide governments in their work. She also referred to the work of the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians and the Declaration adopted by the Second World Conference of Speakers of Parliaments.
She highlighted the division of the world between extreme poverty and relative wealth. Significant means must be made available for development assistance, and the plan for Africa, where the urgency was now recognized, must be put into action. Globalization and the market economy had brought the promise of trade and increased wealth, but also unfettered competition and alarming outsourcing, resulting in the primacy of one superpower over all others. Existing institutions - the United Nations for governments and the IPU for parliaments - must be strengthened.
Delegations of the parliaments of the following 130 countries took part in the work of the Assembly: Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belarus, Belgium, Benin, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Cape Verde, Chile, China, Congo, Costa Rica, Côte d'Ivoire, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Denmark, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Estonia, Fiji, Finland, France, Gabon, Georgia, Ghana, Greece, Guinea, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Latvia, Lebanon, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mexico, Monaco, Mongolia, Morocco, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Rwanda, San Marino, Sao Tome and Principe, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia and Montenegro, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Sweden, Switzerland, Syrian Arab Republic, Thailand, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Togo, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia.
The following Associate Members also took part in the Assembly: the Andean Parliament, the Central American Parliament, the European Parliament, the Latin American Parliament, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, and the Parliament of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS Parliament).
Observers included representatives of: (i) Palestine; (ii) United Nations system: United Nations, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), International Labour Organization (ILO), Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), World Heath Organization (WHO), World Bank, International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW); (iii) International Organization for Migration (IOM), League of Arab States, African Parliamentary Union (APU), Arab Inter-Parliamentary Union (AIPU), Assembly of the Western European Union (WEU), Confederation of Parliaments of the Americas, European Parliamentarians for Africa (AWEPA), Interparliamentary Association for the Eurasian Economic Community, Interparliamentary Assembly of the Commonwealth of Independent States, Parliamentary Assembly of the Union of Belarus and the Russian Federation, Parliamentary Union of the Organization of the Islamic Conference Members (PUOICM); (iv) International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC); and (v) Global Commission on International Migration (GCIM). Furthermore, delegations from the Central African Republic and from Palau participated as observers with a view to future affiliation.
Of a total of 1,093 delegates who attended the Assembly, 548 were members of national parliaments. The parliamentarians included 48 presiding officers, 25 deputy presiding officers and 179 women parliamentarians (32.5%).
3. Choice of an emergency item (Item 2)
At the beginning of the consideration of the item on 17 October, the Assembly had before it one consolidated request for the inclusion of an emergency item, presented by the delegation of Pakistan on behalf of the delegations of India, Mexico and Pakistan, under the title Natural disasters: The role of parliaments in prevention, rehabilitation, reconstruction and the protection of vulnerable groups. The proposal was adopted unanimously and was added to the agenda as item 7. The delegations of Mexico and India also spoke in support of the proposal.
4. Debates and decisions of the Assembly and its Standing Committees
(a) Debate on the emergency item
Natural disasters: the role of parliaments in prevention, rehabilitation, reconstruction and the protection of vulnerable groups (item 7)
The debate on the emergency item took place in the morning of Tuesday, 18 October and began with a presentation by Mr. T. Peter, Deputy Chief, Emergency Services Branch, Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). A total of 17 speakers from 14 parliamentary delegations and one observer took part in the debate, which was opened by the President of the Assembly. He subsequently invited the Vice-President to chair the sitting.
The Assembly referred the item to a working group composed of representatives of the delegations of India, Indonesia, Mexico, Pakistan, South Africa and Switzerland. The working group appointed Ms. B. Gadient (Switzerland) as its president and rapporteur. The working group met on Tuesday, 18 October in the afternoon. It adopted a draft resolution by consensus.
On Wednesday, 19 October, the draft resolution was adopted unanimously by the Assembly.
(b) First Standing Committee: Peace and International Security
(i) The respective roles of parliament and the media in providing the public with impartial, accurate and verifiable information, especially on armed conflicts and the struggle against terrorism (Item 3)
The Committee held three sittings on 17 and 19 October, with its President, Mr. N. Al Ghanem (Syrian Arab Republic), in the chair. In addition to a report and a draft resolution prepared by the co-Rapporteurs, Mr. Z. Szabó (Hungary) and Mr. M. Salim (India), the Committee had before it amendments and sub-amendments to the draft resolution submitted by the delegations of Algeria, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Cuba, Egypt, Finland, Indonesia, Italy, Mexico, Romania, Sweden, the United Kingdom and Venezuela.
The sitting began with the presentation of the report and the draft resolution by the two co-Rapporteurs. A total of 63 speakers from 55 countries and 2 organizations took the floor during the debate. Following the debate, the Standing Committee appointed a drafting committee composed of representatives from Algeria, Belgium, Benin, Denmark, Ghana, Israel, Japan, Pakistan, the Russian Federation, Venezuela and Zambia. Mr. Szabó and Mr. Salim were also invited to participate in the work of the drafting committee, acting in an advisory capacity.
The drafting committee met in the morning and afternoon of 18 October. At the beginning of its work, it appointed Mr. F.-X. de Donnea (Belgium) as its president and Mr. C. Achode (Benin) as rapporteur. The committee examined 112 amendments and sub-amendments to the draft resolution, and adopted 68 of them, fully or in part. A number of other amendments were accepted, if not in letter, then in spirit, as many were similar in content to those that were adopted. After a substantive discussion on the title of the resolution, and considering that the term "objective information" was not appropriate, the drafting committee decided to recommend that the title be changed to the wording that appears above.
In the morning of 19 October, the First Standing Committee considered the consolidated draft. Several delegations took the floor to express support for the text or to further clarify one of its provisions. One delegation requested further amendments to the draft resolution, but they were not accepted by the broader membership. The draft resolution as a whole, with its revised title, was subsequently adopted unanimously by the First Standing Committee.
In the afternoon of 19 October, the draft was submitted to the plenary sitting of the Assembly, which adopted it unanimously. Click here for the text of the resolution.
(ii) Selection of subject item and co-Rapporteurs for the First Standing Committee at the 115th AssemblyThe Bureau of the First Standing Committee met on 19 October to examine nine proposals submitted by IPU Members for the subject item to be debated by the First Standing Committee at the 115th Assembly. The Bureau selected a subject item entitled Cooperation between parliaments and the United Nations in promoting world peace, particularly from the perspectives of the fight against terrorism and energy security, which was subsequently endorsed by the Committee and the Assembly. Upon its recommendation, the Assembly also approved the nomination of Ms. H. Mgabadeli (South Africa) and Ms. A. Möller (Iceland) as co-Rapporteurs.
(c) Second Standing Committee: Sustainable Development, Finance and Trade
(i) Migration and development (Item 4)
The Committee held three sittings on 17 and 19 October, with the alternate First Vice-President, Ms. I. Udre (Latvia), in the chair. In addition to a report and preliminary draft resolution prepared by the co-Rapporteurs, Ms. G. Trujillo Zentella (Mexico) and Mr. F. Schiesser (Switzerland), the Committee had before it amendments to the draft resolution submitted by the delegations of Algeria, Canada, China, Cuba, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Malta, Mexico, the Philippines, Romania, Spain, the Sudan, Sweden, Tunisia, the United Kingdom and Venezuela. A separate set of amendments was submitted by the Coordinating Committee of Women Parliamentarians.
A total of 55 speakers from 46 countries and UNHCR took the floor during the plenary debate. Much of the second sitting of the Committee session took the form of a panel discussion focusing on the report entitled Migration in an interconnected world prepared by the Global Commission on International Migration. Following presentation of the report by Mr. M. Ramphele, co-chair of the Commission, and Mr. R. Jenny, Executive Director, a stimulating exchange of views took place.
Following the debate, the Standing Committee appointed a drafting committee composed of representatives from Cameroon, Chile, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Morocco, Niger, Nigeria, Romania, Switzerland and United Kingdom.
The drafting committee met in the morning and afternoon of 18 October. At the beginning of its work, it appointed Lord Jopling (United Kingdom) as its president and Ms. Z. Bouayad (Morocco) as rapporteur. The committee examined 96 amendments to the preliminary draft resolution and adopted 40 of them, fully or in part. A number of other amendments were accepted, if not in letter, then in spirit, as many were similar in content to those that were adopted. In view of the political sensitivity of the subject of migration and development, the drafting committee had to resort to voting some 10 times. Moreover, one member of the drafting committee announced at the end of the meeting that he was not in a position to support the amended version of the draft resolution and, therefore, wished to dissociate himself from the consolidated draft.
In the morning of 19 October, the Second Standing Committee considered the consolidated draft. While most paragraphs of the draft were adopted without debate, others could not be agreed on the basis of consensus, and the Committee resorted to voting on two occasions. As a result, three further changes were made to the text. Following subsequent adoption of the amended draft as a whole, a number of delegations expressed their reservations about the draft resolution, which they also repeated during the final plenary session of the Assembly (see below).
In the afternoon of 19 October, the draft was submitted to the plenary sitting of the Assembly, which adopted it by consensus. Following the adoption of the resolution, the delegation of Australia expressed reservations on the tenth preambular paragraph and on operative paragraph 5. The delegations of South Africa and Suriname expressed reservations on the twenty-second preambular paragraph with regard to the spread of HIV/AIDS. In addition, the delegation of South Africa expressed a reservation on operative paragraph 16. The delegations of Iceland, Luxembourg and New Zealand expressed reservations on the second part of operative paragraph 5. The delegation of Sweden expressed a reservation on operative paragraph 5, and regretted that the paragraph had not been amended as it had proposed. The delegations of Latvia and Georgia expressed reservations on operative paragraph 4 with regard to the establishment of mechanisms for financial compensation. The delegation of Japan expressed a reservation on operative paragraph 21. Lastly, the delegation of Thailand expressed reservations on operative paragraphs 27 and 28, citing the need to establish action plans on migration and development in all countries, with the active involvement of parliaments, and with the sponsorship of the United Nations.
Click here for the text of the resolution.
(ii) Selection of subject item and co-Rapporteurs for the Second Standing Committee at the 115th AssemblyThe Bureau of the Second Standing Committee met on 19 October with the Committee's alternate First Vice-President, Ms. I. Udre, in the chair. It examined proposals submitted by IPU Members for the items to be debated by the Second Standing Committee at the 115th Assembly. The Bureau approved the subject item entitled The role of parliaments in overseeing the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, in particular with regard to the problem of debt and the eradication of poverty and corruption, which it subsequently submitted to the Second Standing Committee. The Committee agreed to propose this subject item to the Assembly for its inclusion on the agenda of the 115th Assembly, and recommended that the IPU President and the President of the Second Standing Committee be mandated to carry out consultations with the geopolitical groups with a view to appointing the co-Rapporteurs on the item as soon as possible. The item and the recommendation concerning the co-Rapporteurs were subsequently approved by the Assembly.
(d) Third Standing Committee: Democracy and Human Rights
(i) The importance of civil society and its interplay with parliaments and other democratically elected assemblies for the maturing and development of democracy (Item 5)The Committee held three sittings on 17 and 19 October, with its President, Mr. J.-K. Yoo (Republic of Korea), in the chair. The Committee had before it a report and a draft resolution drawn up by the co-Rapporteurs, Mr. S.J. Njikelana (South Africa) and Ms. A.M. Narti (Sweden), along with amendments to the draft resolution proposed by the delegations of the parliaments of the following countries: Algeria, Canada, Cuba, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Italy, Mexico, the Philippines, Romania, Sweden and Venezuela.
In all, 60 speakers took part in the debate. After the debate, the Committee designated a drafting committee composed of representatives of the parliaments of the following countries: Algeria, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Egypt, Japan, Kenya, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Panama, the Russian Federation and Uruguay.
The drafting committee met on 18 October. It began its work by naming Mr. N. Kinsella (Canada) as its president and Ms. M. De Meyer (Belgium) as its rapporteur. It considered in detail the draft resolution drawn up by the co-Rapporteurs and improved the text, incorporating some of the proposed amendments.
On 19 October, the Committee considered the consolidated text of the draft resolution, having adopted further amendments to it which had been proposed by the delegations of India and Morocco. The draft resolution as a whole was subsequently adopted unanimously. The Committee took note of the proposal made by the delegation of South Africa that the IPU ensure closer cooperation with the World Social Forum.
In the afternoon of 19 October, the Assembly, meeting in plenary, adopted the resolution unanimously.
(ii) Selection of subject item and co-Rapporteurs for the Third Standing Committee at the 115th AssemblyThe Bureau of the Third Standing Committee met on 19 October to examine a number of proposals submitted by IPU Members for the subject item to be debated by the Third Standing Committee at the 115th Assembly. The Bureau selected a subject item entitled Missing persons, which was subsequently endorsed by the Committee and the Assembly. Upon its recommendation, the Assembly also approved the nomination of Ms. B. Gadient (Switzerland) and Mr. L. Nicolini (Uruguay) as co-Rapporteurs.