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(Quito, 22-27 March 2013)

  1. Inaugural ceremony
  2. Election of the President
  3. Participation
  4. Choice of an emergency item
  5. Debates and decisions of the Assembly and its Standing Committees

1.   Inaugural ceremony

The inaugural ceremony of the 128th Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union took place on 22 March 2013 at the plenary chamber of the National Assembly of Ecuador, with President Rafael V. Correa Delgado in attendance. In his opening address, the Speaker of the National Assembly of Ecuador, Mr. Fernando Cordero Cueva, underscored that the overall theme of the General Debate, From unrelenting growth to purposeful development "Buen Vivir": New approaches, new solutions, would no doubt give rise to a lively and fruitful debate among delegates from the world over. He remarked that parliamentarians witnessed the failings and consequences of the current global economic and political system, which accentuated poverty, heightened inequality and amplified environmental disasters, insecurity and exclusion.  That theme provided food for thought not only on alternative development models but also on the role parliaments should play in the light of that and other related problems.

In his message, which was delivered by Mr. Philippe Douste-Blazy, Special Adviser to the United Nations Secretary-General on Innovative Finance for Development, the UN Secretary-General commended the IPU for its long-standing efforts to promote the key international development goals, including the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Moreover, he saluted the IPU on its choice of theme for the Assembly, which was directly related to sustainable development. The innovative measures adopted by Ecuador to promote sustainable development had been translated into tangible progress for local communities and had sparked keen interest both regionally and globally. Those were just some of many sustainable development initiatives being taken increasingly by countries of the South, which could serve as an inspiration for deliberations on the post-2015 development priorities. The IPU and the United Nations collaborated closely in a number of areas: from peace and security to democracy and human rights, gender equality and sustainable development. In conclusion, the UN Secretary-General reiterated his clear intention to strengthen cooperation between both organizations in order to address the common task of building a more equitable, prosperous and sustainable future.

The President of the IPU, Mr. Abdelwahad Radi, stated that a number of issues that would be addressed in Quito reflected the major concerns of the world today. Recalling the theme of the General Debate, he added: "We have come here to also discuss more specifically how development can serve the cause of social justice. This is a strong and widely shared aspiration throughout the world. Indeed, citizens on all continents are demanding development governance so that all can benefit from development". Mr. Radi considered that "this ‘Buen Vivir’, which our hosts hold so dear, is also linked to democratic governance. It would be highly desirable in each country for governments and those they govern to abide by the new set of development objectives currently being worked out and for democratic governance to figure high on that agenda. The post-2015 development objectives would be useless, or would have little more use than the MDGs, without the resolute and concrete support of parliaments and citizens". In conclusion, the President raised the serious matter of violence against women, in particular sexual violence. "It is high time", he said, "that these crimes are punished universally for what they really are: unacceptable attacks on the fundamental human right to physical integrity".

The inaugural ceremony concluded with a speech by the President of the Republic of Ecuador, who called for the development of mechanisms to enhance the participation of citizens in democratic life. He underlined that Ecuador – with a surface area of approximately 256,000 km2 – was a biodiversity sanctuary and that the Constitution of Ecuador guaranteed the rights of nature, of which no other country could boast. The President of Ecuador highlighted the issues that would be at the heart of the IPU Assembly: the pivotal role of good governance in development and growth that was respectful of the planet. He challenged parliaments to reflect on the future of their institution in terms of representation and decision-making and deplored the lack of democracy in international relations. He stated that it was imperative to devise innovative solutions based on new technologies in order to achieve more direct and participatory democracy.  Ecuador had established a Fifth Estate, the Council for civic participation and oversight of social policy.

The President concluded by stating that his Government was putting in place policies aimed at: enhancing the inclusion of disabled persons, rescheduling the country’s external debt, concluding new oil contracts and addressing unemployment. He welcomed the delegates from over 120 countries and wished them rich and fruitful deliberations. He declared the 128th Assembly officially open.

2.   Election of the President

The 128th Assembly opened at the Quorum Quito Convention Centre in the morning of Saturday, 23 March, with the election by acclamation of Mr. Fernando Cordero Cueva, Speaker of the National Assembly of Ecuador, as President of the Assembly.

The President said that it was a great honour for him to preside over the Assembly’s work. He underscored the relevance and topicality of the overall theme, particularly in the context of the current global consultations aimed at shaping the next generation of development goals. The Assembly had a rich agenda before it and would be examining a variety of issues of crucial importance, including the responsibility to protect civilians, fair trade and innovative forms of development financing, the rights of persons with disabilities, accountability for child and maternal health, sexual violence against women, as well as finding legislative solutions for disaster-risk reduction and more resilient societies.

President Cordero invited all participating parliaments to share their experiences and perspectives in the General Debate entitled From unrelenting growth to purposeful development "Buen Vivir": New approaches, new solutions. He presided over the General Debate with several Vice-Presidents, namely Ms. A. Burke (Australia), Mr. O.S. Reyes (El Salvador) and Mr. A. Riché (Haiti).

3.   Participation

Delegations from the parliaments of the following 118 countries took part in the work of the Assembly: Afghanistan, Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belgium, Benin, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Chad, Chile, China, Colombia, Congo, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, Croatia, Cuba, Czech Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Gabon, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Guatemala, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Iraq, Ireland, Japan, Jordan, Kuwait, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Latvia, Lesotho, Lithuania, Maldives, Mali, Mexico, Micronesia (Federated States of), Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Palestine, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Romania, Russian Federation, Rwanda, San Marino, Sao Tome and Principe, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Sierra Leone, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Sweden, Switzerland, Syrian Arab Republic, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Viet Nam, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

The following Associate Members also took part in the Assembly: the Andean Parliament, the Arab Parliament, the Central American Parliament, the East African Legislative Assembly, the Parliament of the Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa (CEMAC), the Inter-Parliamentary Committee of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU), the Parliament of the Economic Community of West African States, the Latin American Parliament and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.

Observers comprised representatives of: (i) the United Nations system: the United Nations, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Millennium Campaign, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), UN Women, Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR), World Health Organization (WHO), Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO); (ii) African Parliamentary Union (APU), Arab Inter-Parliamentary Union (AIPU), Asian Parliamentary Assembly (APA), Baltic Assembly,  Confederation of Parliaments of the Americas (COPA), Inter‑parliamentary Assembly of the Eurasian Economic Community (EURASEC), Inter-Parliamentary Union of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IPU-IGAD), Maghreb Consultative Council, Pan-African Parliament, Parliamentary Assembly of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (PABSEC), Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean (PAM), Parliamentary Assembly of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), Parliamentary Assembly of the Turkic-Speaking Countries (TURKPA), Parliamentary Assembly of the Union of Belarus and the Russian Federation, Parliamentary Union of the Organization of the Islamic Conference Members (PUOIC); (iii) Socialist International; and (iv) Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF), the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (PMNCH), Penal Reform International and World Scout Parliamentary Union (WSPU).

Of the 1,198 delegates who attended the Assembly, 619 were members of national parliaments.  The parliamentarians included 33 presiding officers, 38 deputy presiding officers and 202 women (32.6%).

4.   Choice of an emergency item

On 23 March, the President informed the Assembly that the following six requests for the inclusion of an emergency item had been received: Should the deliberate destruction of world cultural heritage not be considered as a crime against humanity? The role of parliaments in: 1) passing appropriate legislation to guarantee protection of world cultural heritage; and 2) developing international criminal law provisions that criminalize serious attacks on the cultural heritage of humanity proposed by Morocco; That homosexuals are entitled to full rights of citizenship. It is the role of parliaments to pass legislation that decriminalizes homosexuality and homosexual acts between consenting adults, proposed by New Zealand; The role of parliaments in achieving international peace and security through a peaceful settlement of the Syrian crisis, proposed by the Syrian Arab Republic; The status of Syrian refugees: The role of parliaments in bringing pressure to bear on their governments to assume their international and humanitarian responsibility towards these refugees and to support the neighbouring countries that receive them, proposed by Jordan;  Unaccompanied migrant children around the world, proposed by Mexico; and The security and humanitarian impacts of the crisis in Syria, including in neighbouring countries, proposed by the United Kingdom.

After taking the floor, the delegations of New Zealand and Mexico decided to withdraw their proposals and instead submit them for consideration to the Third Standing Committee on Democracy and Human Rights.

The delegation of the United Kingdom withdrew its proposal in favour of the resolution of Jordan, which had revised its title to read:  The role of parliaments in addressing the security and humanitarian impact of the crisis in Syria and in bringing pressure to bear on their governments to assume their international and humanitarian responsibility towards Syrian refugees and to support the neighbouring countries that receive them.

Following a roll-call vote, the resolution put forward by Jordan was adopted and added to the agenda as Item 9.

5.   Debates and decisions of the Assembly and its Standing Committees

(a)   General Debate on the political, economic and social situation in the world (Item 3)

Over three days, representatives from 90 Member Parliaments and six regional parliamentary assemblies and Observer delegations took the floor to address the overall theme of the General Debate, From unrelenting growth to purposeful development “Buen Vivir”: New approaches, new solutions.

The General Debate was intended to be part of the global deliberations on the next generation of development goals. Members shared national perspectives, addressed the ongoing challenges faced in fully meeting the MDGs and highlighted lessons learned and priorities for the process ahead.

In the morning of 24 March 2013, the IPU Secretary General, Mr. A.B. Johnsson, moderated an interactive debate with Ms. R. Kadaga, Speaker of the Ugandan Parliament, Mr. S.H. Chowdhury, Member of Parliament (Bangladesh) and Senator G. Penadés (Uruguay). They discussed their exchanges with the UN Secretary-General’s High‑level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda (Monrovia, Liberia, January 2013) and the UNDP-led Global Thematic Consultation on Governance and the Post-2015 Development Framework (Johannesburg, South Africa, 28 February to 1 March 2013). They underscored the fact that democratic governance should be part of the new development framework, both as a stand-alone goal and as a dimension of other goals. A first step in that direction had already been taken in 2012, when the Outcome Document of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20 Summit) had made it clear that “to achieve our sustainable development goals we need institutions at all levels that are effective, transparent, accountable and democratic”.

On 26 March 2013, Ms. R. Grynspan, UNDP Assistant Administrator, addressed the Assembly, highlighting the crucial role of parliaments and parliamentarians in advancing a new vision of sustainable development.  The MDGs had demonstrated that a broad, clear and bold vision could generate grassroots engagement, mobilize resources and bring diverse actors together to work on a common cause. The future challenge would be to sustain positive trends through new approaches, which would inevitably call for enhanced equity and improved governance, while addressing environmental pressures and managing demographic change. In order to rise to that challenge, “the international community must agree on a reinvigorated and transformational global agenda”. Parliamentarians were better placed than anyone to contribute to such an agenda.

At the end of a rich and substantive General Debate, the Assembly issued a political statement – the Quito Communiqué – which would be shared with the United Nations.

(b)   First Standing Committee (Peace and International Security)

(i)   Enforcing the responsibility to protect: The role of parliament in safeguarding civilians' lives (Item 4)

The Committee held five sittings between 24 and 27 March under the leadership of its President, Mr. S.H. Chowdhury (Bangladesh), who was occasionally replaced in the Chair by one of its Vice-Presidents, Mr. G. Schneeman (South Africa). In addition to the reports and draft resolution drawn up its co‑Rapporteurs, Mr. L. Ramatlakane (South Africa) and Mr. S. Janquin (France), the Committee was seized with amendments to the draft resolution from the following delegations: Canada, China, Congo, Cuba, India, Indonesia, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Philippines, Republic of Korea, Spain, Syrian Arab Republic, Sweden and Switzerland, as well as from Senator S. Escudero (Argentina) and the Meeting of Women Parliamentarians.

At the start of its first sitting, on 24 March, the two co-Rapporteurs presented their joint report and draft resolution. A total of 39 speakers took the floor during the ensuing debate. Following the debate, the Committee decided not to establish a drafting committee but rather to finalize its draft resolution in plenary. The co-Rapporteurs participated in an advisory capacity.

At its sittings on 25 and 26 March, the Committee examined 146 amendments submitted by 13 delegations, as well as one delegate on her own behalf, and the Meeting of Women Parliamentarians. It adopted many of them.

The First Standing Committee formally examined the consolidated text during an extra sitting held in the morning of 27 March. The draft resolution was adopted by consensus, the delegation of Cuba having expressed reservations. The Committee approved the proposal made by the President on the appointment of a rapporteur to the Assembly.

The draft resolution was presented to the last sitting of the Assembly in plenary, in the morning of 27 March, and was adopted by consensus, due note being taken of the reservations expressed by the delegation of Cuba on the resolution as a whole. The delegation of Peru expressed a reservation on operative paragraph 10 and considered that "any mention of the International Criminal Court (ICC) or the Rome Statute must not be prejudicial to other international jurisdictions recognized by the State in question, in particular regional jurisdictions". Lastly, the delegations of Sudan and the Syrian Arab Republic expressed a reservation on the ninth preambular paragraph and on operative paragraphs 10 and 11.

(ii)    Selection of subject item and co-Rapporteurs for the First Standing Committee at the 130th Assembly

The Bureau of the First Standing Committee met on 25 March with its President in the Chair. It examined eight proposals presented by Members for the subject item to be considered by the Committee at the 130th Assembly and heard six delegations that wished to elaborate on their proposals.

The Bureau suggested that two subject items be merged and proposed a joint theme from the two delegations concerned: Towards a nuclear-weapon-free world: The contribution of parliaments.

After voting on that proposal, the Committee proposed the subject item to the Assembly for inclusion in the agenda of the 130th Assembly. Subsequently, the Assembly approved that subject item and appointed Ms. Y. Ferrer Gómez (Cuba) and Mr. B. Calkins (Canada) as co-Rapporteurs.

(c)   Second Standing Committee (Sustainable Development, Finance and Trade)

(i)    (i) Fair trade and innovative financing mechanisms for sustainable development (Item 5)

The Second Standing Committee held sittings on 23 and 25 March, with its President, Mr. S.E. Alhusseini (Saudi Arabia), in the Chair. In addition to the reports and preliminary draft resolution prepared by the co‑Rapporteurs, Mr. F.X. de Donnea (Belgium) and Mr. R. Chitotela (Zambia), the Committee had before it amendments to the draft resolution submitted by the delegations of Canada, China, Congo, Cuba, France, India, Indonesia, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Philippines, Republic of Korea, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Syrian Arab Republic and Senator S. Escudero (Argentina). In addition, the Committee received 10 amendments from the Meeting of Women Parliamentarians as well as sub-amendments from Japan.

A total of 34 speakers took the floor during the plenary debate, after which the Standing Committee appointed a drafting committee composed of representatives of Algeria, Australia, Burkina Faso, Chad, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, France, Japan, Palestine, Serbia and Sudan. The drafting committee met on 23 March. It appointed Mr. D. Adams (Australia) as its president and Ms. C. Guittet (France) as its rapporteur. It examined 119 amendments to the preliminary draft resolution, adopting some either in full or in part.

In the afternoon of 25 March, the Second Standing Committee examined the consolidated draft resolution and decided to incorporate two sub-amendments. The text of the resolution was then adopted as a whole. In the morning of 27 March, the draft resolution was submitted to the Assembly, which adopted it unanimously.

(ii)    Selection of subject item and co-Rapporteurs for the Second Standing Committee at the 130th Assembly

The Bureau of the Second Standing Committee met on 24 March with the Committee President in the Chair. It examined proposals submitted by IPU Member Parliaments for the item to be debated by the Second Standing Committee at the 130th Assembly. The Bureau approved the subject item Towards risk-resilient development: Taking into consideration demographic trends and natural constraints, which it then submitted to the Second Standing Committee. The Committee agreed with the proposal, which was subsequently approved by the Assembly for inclusion in the agenda of the 130th Assembly. The Assembly appointed Mr. S.H. Chowdhury (Bangladesh) and Mr. P. Mahoux (Belgium) as co-Rapporteurs.

(d)   Third Standing Committee (Democracy and Human Rights)

(i)   The use of media, including social media, to advance citizen engagement and democracy (Item 6)

The Third Standing Committee held two sittings, on 23 and 26 March. On 23 March, the titular Vice-President from the Group of Latin America and the Caribbean, Senator J.M. Galán (Colombia) chaired the first session. In addition to receiving the report and preliminary draft resolution prepared by the co‑Rapporteurs, Ms. C. Charlton (Canada) and Ms. M. Kubayi (South Africa), the Committee was informed of a new IPU publication, Social Media Guidelines for Parliaments, for parliamentary administrations. The Committee had before it amendments to the draft resolution submitted by the delegations of Argentina, Belgium, China, Congo, France, India, Indonesia, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Japan, Philippines, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and Syrian Arab Republic.

A total of 33 speakers took the floor during the plenary debate, after which the Standing Committee appointed a drafting committee composed of representatives of the following countries: Australia, Gabon, Ireland, Mexico, Switzerland, Uganda and Uruguay.

The drafting committee met on 25 March, assisted by Ms. Charlton and Ms. Kubayi. It appointed Ms. U. Stephens (Australia) as its president and Ms. Kubayi as its rapporteur. It examined the amendments proposed by Members to the preliminary draft resolution and adopted many of them in letter or spirit.

On the morning of 26 March, the Committee President, Mr. O. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu (Ghana) chaired the second session. The Third Standing Committee examined the consolidated draft resolution and adopted it by consensus, with one minor modification. No reservations were expressed. Ms. Kubayi was elected as the rapporteur to the Assembly.

On 27 March, the draft resolution was submitted to the Assembly, which adopted it unanimously.

At its sitting on 26 March, the Third Standing Committee also elected its new Bureau. While most candidates submitted by the geopolitical groups were elected unopposed, a secret ballot was held to choose the titularmember for the Asia-Pacific Group from among three candidates. Fifty-two delegations cast their vote and the candidate from Afghanistan was elected with an absolute majority of 28 votes. No nomination was received for the post of substitutemember from the Eurasia Group, which remained vacant.

(ii)    Selection of subject item and co-Rapporteurs for the Third Standing Committee at the 130th Assembly

The Third Standing Committee agreed at its second sitting to the subject item The role of parliaments in protecting the rights of children, in particular unaccompanied migrant children, and in preventing their exploitation in situations of war and conflict for inclusion in the agenda of the 130th Assembly. The Committee voted by 31 to 21 to accept the Bureau’s recommendation rather than to reopen the discussion on proposals for subject items. It appointed Ms. G. Cuevas (Mexico) and Ms. J. Nassif (Bahrain) as co‑Rapporteurs. The item and co-Rapporteurs were subsequently approved by the Assembly at its last sitting on 27 March.

(e)   Emergency item

The role of parliaments in addressing the security and humanitarian impact of the crisis in Syria and in bringing pressure to bear on their governments to assume their international and humanitarian responsibility towards Syrian refugees and to support the neighbouring countries that receive them (Item 9)

The debate on the emergency item was held in the afternoon of Sunday, 24 March, with the President of the 128th Assembly, Mr. F. Cordero Cueva, in the Chair.

The debate was preceded by a short introduction to the draft resolution by Jordan, its sponsor.  The resolution stemmed from the belief that the attention of the international community needed to be drawn to the alarming humanitarian situation facing Syrian refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs).  The number of refugees was increasing at an astounding pace; in the first three months of 2013 alone that number had reached 420,000.  Action was urgently needed and parliaments must assume their share of the responsibility.  Pledges of assistance made by the international community had thus far not been honoured.  It was crucial to find a peaceful solution and the international community could no longer afford to turn a blind eye to the situation.

The President of the Assembly expressed concern over the use of the word “security” in the revised title of the resolution. The sponsor of the resolution affirmed that the purpose of the resolution was to focus on the humanitarian plight of Syrian refugees and IDPs, including their security situation, and the potential for instability in the wider region resulting from the outflow of refugees.

During the debate, the speakers expressed deep concern for the plight of the Syrian people - both refugees and IDPs - and expressed solidarity with them in the face of the crisis. The refugee situation had turned into a real tragedy for the Syrian people and several speakers called on the international community to come to their assistance.

Lastly, some speakers condemned the loss of life and called for maximum restraint while stressing the need for a solution to the Syrian crisis to be Syrian-led and respectful of Syria’s sovereignty.

The Assembly referred the emergency item to a drafting committee composed of representatives of China, Côte d’Ivoire, Ecuador, France, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Jordan, Mexico, Morocco, Turkey, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania and Zambia. It appointed Mr. F. Bustamante (Ecuador) as its president and Ms. S. Haj Hasan (Jordan) as its rapporteur. The drafting committee met twice on 25 March to finalize the draft resolution.

At its last sitting, held on 27 March, the Assembly adopted the resolution by consensus with reservations on the use of the word "security" in the title of the resolution expressed by the delegations of Algeria, Cuba, Ecuador, El Salvador, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Mexico, Peru, Russian Federation, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic and Uruguay. In addition, the delegation of the Syrian Arab Republic expressed reservations on several parts of the resolution which it felt violated its country’s sovereignty, and Cuba expressed a reservation on the first preambular paragraph.

(f)   Presidential Statement on sexual violence against women

At the closing sitting of the Assembly, the President expressed his deep concern at widespread acts of sexual violence against women and, in particular rape in all its manifestations and contexts. He underscored the urgent need to take action to end that scourge, which spared no country. The Meeting of Women Parliamentarians had expressed the wish that the Assembly speak out against such heinous crimes and the Executive Committee had approved the text of the Presidential Statement. It called on parliaments and their members to roundly condemn sexual violence against women. The President read out the Statement, which the Assembly endorsed.

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