Inter-Parliamentary Union  
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Noted by the 130th IPU Assembly
(Geneva, 20 March 2014)

The Standing Committee on United Nations Affairs held its first session as a fully-fledged Standing Committee on 19 March. After electing its new Bureau, the Committee held a substantive discussion on recent developments in strengthening cooperation between the UN, parliaments and the IPU.

The Committee heard an address from the Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva, Mr. Michael Møller, who welcomed the IPU’s efforts to inject a parliamentary dimension into the work of the UN, at the national and international levels. He referred to the need for parliaments to play an integral role in defining and implementing the United Nations post-2015 development agenda; parliamentary input would be the key to ensuring strong national ownership of the new sustainable development goals (SDGs).

In the ensuing debate, participants highlighted the main objectives and modalities of interaction between the UN and national parliaments, and emphasized the IPU’s facilitating role in that regard. On the one hand parliaments had a role and responsibility to ensure that international commitments were translated into national realities. On the other, they must also bring a parliamentary perspective to discussions at global level, in order to reflect citizens’ expectations and enhance national ownership of those commitments. As the interaction between the UN and parliaments evolved, people would gain a better understanding and appreciation of the work of the UN.

The Committee agreed that an important part of the interaction between the UN and parliaments took place at the national level, where there remained much scope for a more structured and integrated approach. A recent field mission to Haiti by the Advisory Group to the IPU Committee on United Nations Affairs had examined UN stabilization and humanitarian efforts in the country: the degree to which efforts at the country level met the needs of the local population; how UN partners on the ground involved the institution of parliament; and more specifically the role parliament played in helping to secure lasting peace, the rule of law and sustainable development. The Speaker of the Haitian Senate, Mr. Simon Desras, described the challenges faced in Haiti, by the Parliament in particular, in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake in 2010, in a society marked by political instability and weak governance institutions. The mission’s findings, which were presented to the Committee, would be formally shared with the Parliament and Government of Haiti, as well as with the United Nations, as support to the emerging political dialogue in Haiti and to help secure the Haitian parliament’s position in the national political arena.

The 68th session of the UN General Assembly would receive a report by the UN Secretary-General on interaction between the UN, national parliaments and the IPU. It would also be called upon to adopt a new resolution on that issue. The Committee reviewed the text of a preliminary draft resolution and suggested some amendments. Parliaments should secure the fullest possible support from their foreign ministries for a strong General Assembly resolution based on the  consensus resolution adopted in 2012 (A/66/261).

Hon. Fernando Bustamante (Ecuador), Hon. David McGuinty (Canada) and Mr. Charles Chauvel, Parliamentary Advisor to the UNDP Democratic Governance Group, presented their thoughts on how parliaments and parliamentarians could influence the ongoing UN process to devise the next generation of SDGs. The new SDGs would be universal in scope, involving developing and developed countries alike, and would focus on poverty eradication from a sustainability perspective. A new global partnership would be required to support much needed technology transfers and financing to developing countries.

In the discussion that followed, participants suggested that the SDGs would require strong governance institutions equipped to support the integration of the three pillars (economic, social and environmental) of sustainable development. Several underscored the importance of including the broader issue of climate change, a major threat to the whole planet, in the SDG debate. The UN was making little progress on that critical issue and parliaments should therefore take the lead. The Climate Summit to be convened by the UN Secretary-General later in the year would be an important opportunity to do so.

Members agreed on the need for an overall SDG framework that could be implemented effectively. Parliamentarians should be “policy-makers”, not “policy-takers”: by being involved at the early stages of negotiations they could ensure that the new SDGs reflected a parliamentary perspective.

One prevailing opinion was that the SDGs must have the flexibility to be relevant in different national contexts. That was the only way to ensure that the new development agenda could be “localized” and translated into manageable policy prescriptions at the country level. The new vision for development should be an expanded one that reflected human well-being in all its dimensions, including new qualitative measurements of progress that inquired about the actual impact of public policies on people’s lives.

In order to implement the SDGs effectively the current “silos approach” to policy making needed to change. New coordinating structures, like the MDG Task Force set up by the Parliament of Indonesia, would be useful. It would also be good practice to ensure that all legislative proposals were accompanied by a sustainability impact assessment. More generally, parliaments should be more closely involved in setting national strategies for sustainable development. Greater efforts to enhance parliaments’ capacities to perform their core functions would be essential.

The Committee agreed to continue to engage in the UN process leading to the adoption of the post‑2015 development agenda. It recommended that parliaments continue discussions in that regard in specialized parliamentary committees at the national level and report back to the IPU on new developments.


During its current session, the United Nations General Assembly will be considering a stand-alone agenda item on "Interaction between the United Nations, national parliaments and the IPU", and adopting a related Resolution. The IPU Secretariat has been working closely with the UN Department of Political Affairs on the draft Report of the United Nations Secretary-General on this agenda item, which should be issued to all Member States in the coming weeks. Based on the landmark General Assembly Resolution 66/261 of May 2012 (attached) and the joint activities conducted by the IPU and the United Nations over these past two years, the following text of a new General Assembly resolution is proposed (new language reflected in bold).

All IPU Members are encouraged to contact their Foreign Ministries and Permanent Missions in New York with a view to garnering the support of their respective governments for the adoption - by consensus and with a large number of sponsoring States - of the new General Assembly Resolution.

Draft resolution of the United Nations General Assembly

Interaction between the United Nations, national parliaments and the Inter-Parliamentary Union

The General Assembly,

Having considered the report of the Secretary-General, which attests to the broad and substantive cooperation between the United Nations and the Inter-Parliamentary Union over the past two years,

Taking note of the resolutions adopted by the Inter-Parliamentary Union and circulated in the General Assembly and the many activities undertaken by the organization in support of the United Nations,

Taking note also of the outcome of the World Conferences of Speakers of Parliament held in 2000, 2005 and 2010, which affirms the commitment of national parliaments and the Inter-Parliamentary Union to support the work of the United Nations and continue efforts to bridge the democracy gap in international relations,

Taking into consideration the Cooperation Agreement between the United Nations and the Inter-Parliamentary Union of 1996,1 which laid the foundation for cooperation between the two organizations,

Recalling the United Nations Millennium Declaration,2 as well as the 2005 World Summit Outcome,3 in which Heads of State and Government resolved to strengthen further cooperation between the United Nations and national parliaments through their world organization, the Inter-Parliamentary Union, in all fields of the work of the United Nations,

Recalling also its resolution 57/32 of 19 November 2002, in which the Inter‑Parliamentary Union was invited to participate in the work of the General Assembly in the capacity of observer, as well as resolutions 57/47 of 21 November 2002, 59/19 of 8 November 2004, 61/6 of 20 October 2006 and 63/24 of 18 November 2008,

Recalling and further endorsing its resolutions 65/123 of 13 December 2010 and 66/261 of 29 May 2012 in which the General Assembly, inter alia, decided to pursue a more systematic engagement with the Inter-Parliamentary Union in organizing and integrating a parliamentary component of and contribution to major United Nations deliberative processes and the review of international commitments,

Welcoming the annual parliamentary hearings at the United Nations, as well as other specialized parliamentary meetings organized by the Inter-Parliamentary Union in cooperation with the United Nations in the context of major United Nations conferences and events,

Welcoming in particularthe work of the Inter-Parliamentary Union in mobilizing parliamentary action towards the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by the target date of 2015, as well as in bringing a parliamentary contribution to the design of the next generation of global development goals;

Recognizing the growing role of the IPU Committee on United Nations Affairs in providing a platform for regular interaction between parliamentarians and UN officials, reviewing implementation of international commitments, facilitating closer ties between UN country teams and national parliaments, and helping shape a parliamentary input to major UN processes;

Recognizing also the work of the Inter-Parliamentary Union in the areas of gender equality, the empowerment of women and combating violence against women, and the close cooperation between the Inter-Parliamentary Union and the relevant United Nations bodies, including the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN‑Women), the Commission on the Status of Women and the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women,

Acknowledging the role and responsibility of national parliaments in regard to national plans and strategies, as well as in ensuring greater transparency and accountability at both national and global levels,

  1. Welcomes the actions undertaken by the Inter-Parliamentary Union to pursue a more systematic engagement with the United Nations;
  2. Encourages the United Nations and the Inter-Parliamentary Union to continue to work closely in various fields, in particular peace and security, economic and social development, climate protection, international law, human rights and democracy and gender issues, bearing in mind the significant benefits of cooperation between the two organizations, to which the report of the Secretary-General attests;
  3. Also encourages the continued active involvement of the IPU in mobilizing parliamentary action to achieve the MDGs and to provide input to the design of the post-2015 agenda, and for the United Nations and the IPU to continue to work closely together with a view to incorporating a clear role for parliaments at the national level and the IPU at the global level in the implementation of the post-2015 development agenda,
  4. Welcomes the preparations currently under way for the organization of the Fourth World Conference of Speakers of Parliaments in 2015, which is expected to further consolidate the relationship between the United Nations, parliaments and the IPU, and encourages these preparations to be conducted in close cooperation with the United Nations with a view to maximizing political support for the outcome of the UN Summit in 2015;
  5. Welcomes the practice of including legislators as members of national delegations to major United Nations meetings and events, including new fora such as the UN High-Level Political Forum and the ECOSOC Youth Forum, and invites Member States to continue this practice in a more regular and systematic manner;
  6. Invites Member States to further consider ways to regularly work with the Inter-Parliamentary Union in facilitating a parliamentary component to major UN conferences and in more closely linking the annual parliamentary hearing at the United Nations to the main United Nations processes, so as to help inform such deliberations from a parliamentary perspective;
  7. Encourages Member States to consider expanding the experience of the joint UN-IPU Parliamentary Hearing to other meetings at the United Nations, such as the parliamentary meeting organized on the occasion of the annual session of the Commission on the Status of Women, with a view to including these sessions as part of the formal United Nations agenda and ensuring a parliamentary contribution and follow-up to these UN processes;
  8. Welcomes progress in involving the IPU more closely in the work of the Human Rights Council, notably by providing more systematically a parliamentary contribution to the Universal Periodic Review and to the United Nations human rights treaty bodies, along the lines of the cooperation developed in recent years between the Inter-Parliamentary Union, the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women and national parliaments whose countries are under review;
  9. Invites UN-Women to work closely with the Inter-Parliamentary Union in such areas as the empowerment of women, institutional gender mainstreaming, support to parliaments in promoting gender-sensitive legislation, combating violence against women and the implementation of relevant United Nations resolutions;
  10. Encourages the Inter-Parliamentary Union to further assist in developing closer cooperation between the United Nations and parliaments at the national level, including in terms of strengthening parliamentary capacities, reinforcing the rule of law and helping to align national legislation with international commitments;
  11. Calls upon United Nations country teams to develop a more structured and integrated manner of working with national parliaments, inter alia, by involving parliaments in consultations on national development strategies and on development aid effectiveness;
  12. Encourages the organizations and bodies of the United Nations system to more systematically avail themselves of the unique expertise of the Inter‑Parliamentary Union and its member parliaments in strengthening parliamentary institutions, particularly in countries emerging from conflict and/or in the transition to democracy;
  13. Calls for the regular annual exchange between the United Nations System Chief Executives Board for Coordination and the senior leadership of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, with a view to building greater coherence in the work of the two organizations, maximizing parliamentary support for the United Nations and helping to forge a strategic partnership between the two organizations;
  14. Recommends that a new Cooperation Agreement between the United Nations and the Inter-Parliamentary Union be drawn up, so as to reflect progress and developments over the past years and to place the institutional relationship between the two organizations on a firmer footing;
  15. Decides, in recognition of the unique role of national parliaments in support of the work of the United Nations, to include in the provisional agenda of its seventieth session the item entitled “Interaction between the United Nations, national parliaments and the Inter-Parliamentary Union” and invites the Secretary-General to submit a report under this item.

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