Inter-Parliamentary Union  
Chemin du Pommier 5, C.P. 330, CH-1218 Le Grand-Saconnex/Geneva, Switzerland  


(Geneva, 12-16 October 2014)

  1. Opening of the Assembly
  2. Participation
  3. Choice of an emergency item
  4. Debates and decisions of the Assembly and its Standing Committees
  5. Concluding session

1.   Opening of the Assembly

The 131st Assembly opened on the morning of Monday, 13 October 2014, at the Centre international de Conférences de Genève (CICG). Mr. A. Radi (Morocco), President of the IPU, chaired the proceedings. In his opening remarks, he said that 2014 marked the 125th anniversary of the IPU, a fact that made the current Assembly very special. Also, on a more personal note, he would be presiding over the deliberations as IPU President for the last time.

Mr. Radi said he was proud to have been at the helm of a body that had grown from a handful of parliamentarians, at its inception in 1889, into a truly global organization comprising 166 national parliaments. The IPU had much to be proud of: during his term of office, it had adopted its first ever Strategy, co-published the ground-breaking Global Parliamentary Report dealing with the evolving relationship between citizens and parliaments, adopted the Plan of Action for Gender-Sensitive Parliaments, implemented structural reforms and established the Forum of Young Parliamentarians.

Yet, notwithstanding the Organization’s many accomplishments, he cautioned the participants against complacency. Democracy was very much a work in progress and was clearly ailing, as evidenced by the conflicts and terrorist attacks in many parts of the world.

The IPU was developing a robust strategic partnership with the United Nations and was working on a new cooperation agreement that would place their institutional relationship on a stronger footing. Mr. Radi acknowledged the presence of Mr. Michael Møller, Acting Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva, in whom the IPU had a strong supporter.

The IPU President said he was especially pleased with the choice of theme for the General Debate at the current Assembly: Achieving gender equality, ending violence against women. That issue had been particularly important to him throughout his term of office. It was telling that, in 2014, gender equality was still an issue open to debate and that no country could claim to have achieved it.

He set the tone for the General Debate by stressing that the achievement of gender equality was a prerequisite for progress, global peace and security, poverty eradication and sustainable development. The unequal balance of power between the sexes provided fertile ground for violence against women, a scourge which spared no nation and which must be strongly condemned and combated.  That effort would require a change in mentality and a solid, rigorously implemented legal framework.

Mr. M. Møller, Acting Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva, commended the outgoing President of the IPU on a successful term of office and expressed his appreciation for Mr. Radi’s firm commitment to partnership and collaboration with the United Nations in the effort to advance parliamentary democracy. He assured the IPU of his full support and welcomed Mr. Martin Chungong in his new role as IPU Secretary General.

He was concerned at the threats to peace and stability in, inter alia, the Syrian Arab Republic, Iraq, Ukraine, Gaza and South Sudan. There was a growing sense that the rules of the game that had been so painstakingly put into place over decades through negotiation and consensus-building were changing and that “might” was starting to equal “right”.

The violent extremism perpetrated by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) marked a dramatic change in the terrorist threat, and the spread of Ebola had added another layer of complexity to the political, economic and humanitarian challenges of the day.

The common denominators linking many of those challenges included poor governance, human rights abuses, disenfranchised individuals and groups, injustice and failed leadership, all of which led to an unravelling of the social fabric. As institutions, parliaments represented avenues for the inclusion of views from all sectors of society; and as individuals, parliamentarians could serve as advocates of moderation, agents of empowerment and guardians of human rights and the rule of law.

In 2015, the United Nations would be celebrating its 70th anniversary and the IPU would be holding the Fourth World Conference of Speakers of Parliament. A major challenge for both Organizations would be to establish a universal and transformative post-2015 development agenda, a project on which the United Nations looked forward to collaborating with the IPU.

Reaching out to and empowering youth would be critical given the record number of unemployed young people and their overwhelming sense of disenchantment and frustration. He welcomed the theme of the General Debate and made a compelling case for gender equality, saying: “There can be no peace without the full engagement of women – it is as simple as that”.

2.   Participation

Delegations from the parliaments of the following 147 countries, including four non-Members attending as Observers with a view to future affiliation, took part in the work of the Assembly:

Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cabo Verde, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Comoros, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Denmark, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Gabon, Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Iraq, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Latvia, Lebanon, Lesotho, Libya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Micronesia (Federated States of), Monaco, Mongolia, Morocco, Myanmar, Namibia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Palestine, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Romania, Russian Federation, Rwanda, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia, Seychelles, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Sweden, Switzerland, Syrian Arab Republic, Tajikistan, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Togo, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

The following Associate Members also took part in the Assembly: the Andean Parliament, the Arab Parliament, the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA), Inter-Parliamentary Committee of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA), the Latin American Parliament (Parlatino) and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE).

Observers comprised representatives of: (i) the United Nations system: the United Nations, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), the International Labour Office (ILO), the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), UN Women and the World Health Organization (WHO); (ii) the World Trade Organization (WTO); (iii) the Council of Europe, the International Organization for Migration (IOM); (iv) the African Parliamentary Union (APU), the Arab Inter-Parliamentary Union (AIPU), the Asian Parliamentary Assembly (APA), the Association of Senates, Shoora and Equivalent Councils in Africa and the Arab World (ASSECAA), the International Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions (INTOSAI), the Maghreb Consultative Council, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (PABSEC),the Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean (PAM), the Parliamentary Assembly of Turkic-Speaking Countries (TURKPA), the Parliamentary Assembly of the Union of Belarus and Russia and the Parliamentary Union of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation Member States (PUIC); (v) Socialist International; (vi) the Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF), the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance  (International IDEA), the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (PMNCH), the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the World Future Council (WFC) and Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament (PNND).

Of the 1,410 delegates who attended the Assembly, 707 were members of parliament.  Those parliamentarians included 47 presiding officers, 48 deputy presiding officers and 227 women (32.1%).

3.   Choice of an emergency item

On 13 October, the President informed the Assembly that nine requests had been received to include an emergency item on the agenda, as follows:

  • Commitment by the parliaments of the world to recognize the rights of the Palestinian people, proposed by Ecuador;
  • The role of parliamentarians in fighting terrorism and building an international partnership through the United Nations and other international organizations to eradicate extremism and promote cooperation and tolerance among the world’s civilizations and peoples as a basis for international peace and security, proposed by the United Arab Emirates;
  • The role of the Inter-Parliamentary Union in addressing the terrorism and extremism of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), Al Nusrah Front (ANF) and other terrorist groups, proposed by the Syrian Arab Republic;
  • The role of the IPU and national parliaments in formulating and implementing national action plans to combat all forms of exploitation linked to human trafficking, in particular the trafficking of women and children, proposed by Morocco;
  • The role of the IPU in encouraging and supporting an initiative aimed at ensuring international protection for the Palestinian people under occupation until a two-State solution is achieved, in the light of the latest Israeli military aggression on Gaza, proposed by Palestine;
  • Commitment by the world’s parliamentarians to promote a multilateral legal framework for restructuring countries’ sovereign debt with a view to achieving a more stable and predictable international financial system, proposed by Argentina;
  • The role of parliaments in supporting implementation of UN Security Council resolution 2178 and international support to address the humanitarian disaster caused by the terrorist attacks in Iraq and Syria, proposed by Chile;
  • The role of the Inter-Parliamentary Union in promoting the UN Charter to resolve conflicts in a just manner and counter the growing threat of terrorism, proposed by the Islamic Republic of Iran;
  • The role of parliaments in supporting an immediate and robust international response to the Ebola epidemic and in enacting laws ensuring an effective response to and preparedness for Ebola and other infectious disease outbreaks, proposed by Belgium and Zambia.

The delegations of Morocco and the Islamic Republic of Iran withdrew their proposals before the vote. The delegations of Ecuador and the United Arab Emirates merged their proposal to:

  • The role of parliamentarians in countering terrorism, terrorist groups such as the so-called Daesh and massive violence against civilians and in building an international partnership through the United Nations and other international organizations.

The Assembly held a roll-call vote on the final list of six items. The proposal put forward jointly by Belgium and Zambia, which had received the required two-thirds majority and the highest number of positive votes, was adopted and added to the agenda as Item 7.

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

(a)   General Debate: Achieving gender equality, ending violence against women

The General Debate was introduced with a short video message from the United Nations Secretary-General, Mr. Ban Ki-moon, who congratulated President Radi on his excellent service and applauded the IPU’s focus on achieving gender equality and ending violence against women. He said that both were central to reaching the MDGs and succeeding with the post-2015 development agenda. The UN “HeForShe” campaign brought together men from all walks of life to end that affront to humanity. He applauded the IPU for advocating greater political representation of women and counted on the Organization to help bring the voices of women and girls to the legislatures of the world.

For three days, the representatives of 116 Member Parliaments, four regional parliamentary organizations and five other Permanent Observers spoke on the theme.

The General Debate provided an opportunity for parliamentarians to exchange views on fundamental questions in order to strengthen their national activities and to prepare a joint message from parliaments and the IPU, given that 2015 would see the establishment of new sustainable development goals (SDGs) and the twentieth anniversary of the adoption of the Beijing Platform for Action. Members described the strategies and actions that had been implemented in their countries in order to achieve gender equality and combat violence against women and vowed to become agents of change.

On the afternoon of 13 October, the Assembly heard a video message from Ms. E. Watson, UN Women Goodwill Ambassador, launching the “HeForShe” Campaign. The Campaign was an effort to create a widespread movement of support for gender equality by encouraging men and boys to advocate for women’s rights, support the movement towards gender equality and combat discrimination. After her statement, the IPU President, Mr. A. Radi, and the IPU Secretary General, Mr. M. Chungong, announced that they were joining the Campaign and urged all the men present to follow their lead by signing the pledges that had been made available to the participants.

Ms. P. Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director of UN Women, addressed the Assembly during an interactive debate held on the morning of 14 October. Given that parliamentarians worked on behalf of all citizens and of humanity, she called on them to continue to adopt and implement policies aimed at empowering women, intensify the fight against discrimination, create an enabling environment for women’s full participation in economic and political life, facilitate strict application of the legislation criminalizing violence against women and ensure regular monitoring in those areas. She urged the participants to seize the historic opportunity to ensure the success of the fight for gender equality, including by working to ensure that the post-2015 development agenda included ambitious, measurable targets in that regard.  Following her statement, she replied to delegates’ questions on the contribution of the IPU and parliaments to the work of the UN Commission on the Status of Women. Those related specifically to the promotion of women’s participation in politics and limitations on the value of mediation in responding to domestic violence.

Mr. M. Paymar, Member of the Minnesota House of Representatives (USA), addressed the Assembly on the “Duluth Model”, which called for a coordinated community response to domestic violence based on the need to ensure the victims’ safety and prosecute the perpetrators. That model was effective and saved lives by ensuring coordinated action by first responders – the police, the civil and criminal justice systems and the medical and social professions – and holding them responsible for implementation of the law. It was urgent to break the silence about our societies, which produced violent men and turned a blind eye to trafficking in children and women, and to convince men and boys to engage in non-violent and respectful relationships with women.

Ms. C. Compaoré, First Lady of Burkina Faso, who had received on behalf of her country a World Future Policy Award the previous day for exemplary policies to combat violence against women, addressed the Assembly on the morning of October 15. Her statement focused on the elimination of female genital mutilation (FGM), a harmful practice that violated the fundamental rights of women and girls and, in particular, their right to life, to physical, psychological and mental integrity and to health, including sexual and reproductive health. She called on the participants to surmount the reluctance to completely ban FGM evidenced by its medicalization and its practice outside the borders of countries that had prohibited it.

(b)   Standing Committee on Peace and International Security

(i)   Activities during the 131st Assembly

The Standing Committee on Peace and International Security held two sittings on 13 and 15 October. In the absence of a Committee President, Ms. Z. Drif Bitat (Algeria), Vice-President, took the chair.

At its first sitting, the Committee held a hearing on the implementation of the 2008 IPU resolution on The role of parliaments in striking a balance between national security, human security and individual freedoms, and in averting the threat to democracy, which had been adopted in Cape Town (South Africa) during the 118th IPU Assembly. The hearing opened with the statements of two speakers, Ms. B. Jónsdóttir (Iceland), who spoke as an expert on individual freedoms and human security, and Mr. P. Martin-Lalande (France), who focused on counter-terrorism and the effective implementation of paragraph 5 of the resolution.

At its second sitting, the Committee had a panel discussion on Cyber warfare – A serious threat to peace and global security, the topic of a resolution that was expected to be adopted by the 132nd IPU Assembly in Hanoi (Viet Nam). The Chair opened the meeting and introduced the experts, who made presentations on the subject: Mr. A. Cederberg, Geneva Centre for Security Policy; Mr. D. Kerimi, World Economic Forum; Mr. L. Gisel, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC); and Mr. M. Obiso, International Telecommunication Union (ITU).

For the report on the Standing Committee’s activities during the 131st Assembly, click here.

(ii)    Election of the Bureau and future work programme

The Bureau of the Standing Committee met on 14 October 2014.  It established the Committee’s work programme for the 132nd IPU Assembly.  With regard to the preparation of a longer-term workplan, the Bureau decided to take time to consider the matter and, in a month, prepare a summary of ideas in order to submit a comprehensive proposal to the Committee at its next session.

The Bureau was informed of the candidatures received for the vacant seats and decided to recommend Mr. J.R. Tau (South Africa) for the post of President of the Committee and Mr. A. Omari (Morocco) for Vice-President. On 15 October 2014, the Committee approved those proposals. Nevertheless, one vacancy on the Bureau, from the Asia‑Pacific Group, remained unfilled because no nomination had been received from that Group. Following the election to the Executive Committee of the representative from the African Group, the seat for that group became vacant. The Bureau therefore comprised 16 members.

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

(i)    Activities during the 131st Assembly

The Standing Committee held two sittings on 14 and 15 October, chaired by its President, Mr. R. León (Chile).

At the first sitting, the Committee discussed the draft Outcome Document of the Parliamentary Meeting to be held in conjunction with the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Peru in December. The Rapporteur of the Parliamentary Meeting, Mr. S. Tejada Galindo (Peru), submitted the pre-draft of the Outcome Document to the Committee for comments. The IPU Secretariat took note of the feedback provided and undertook to incorporate it into the draft document to be presented to the Parliamentary Meeting in Lima.

The first sitting introduced an innovative element: an interactive debate with private sector representatives. The debate focused on corporate investment in sustainable development and was organized jointly with the World Investment Forum of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development. The participants included Ms. L. Schreve, Head of Sustainable Lending at ING Bank, Mr. R. Milliner, B20 Sherpa for Australia, Mr. N. Boateng, Chief Executive Officer of Empretec, Ghana, Mr. S. Chowdhury (Bangladesh, MP) and Mr. D. Carter (New Zealand, MP).

At its sitting on 15 October, the Committee had a preliminary exchange of views on the subject item of the resolution to be adopted at the next IPU Assembly, Shaping a new system of water governance: Promoting parliamentary action on water. The topic was introduced by Mr. A. Iza, Head of the Environmental Law Programme, International Union for Conservation of Nature, Ms. E. Tranchez of Waterlex, Ms. N. Marino (Australia, MP) and Mr. F. Bustamante (Ecuador, MP).

For the report on the Standing Committee’s activities during the 131st Assembly, click here.

(ii)   Election of the Bureau and future work programme

There were four vacancies to fill on the Standing Committee Bureau: one for the Asia‑Pacific Group; one for the Twelve Plus Group; and two for the Eurasia Group. The Committee approved the candidatures of Ms. S. Tioulong (Cambodia) and Ms. S. de Bethune (Belgium). No candidatures had been received from the Eurasia Group. The Committee Bureau met in the morning of 14 October to discuss its current work and its work programme for 2015. The Bureau endorsed the proposal to organize a Parliamentary Meeting at the Third World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction, in March 2015 in Japan, subject to the availability of financial resources. It unanimously endorsed its members’ activities outside IPU Assemblies, particularly field visits to assess the impact of IPU resolutions. It decided to organize a dedicated session on water governance at the 132nd Assembly in Hanoi. The Bureau members from Australia and Denmark agreed to lead efforts to conceptualize that event.

(d)   Standing Committee on Democracy and Human Rights

(i)   International law as it relates to national sovereignty, non-intervention in the internal affairs of States and human rights (Item 6)

The Committee held sittings on 13, 15 and 16 October with its President, Ms. F. Naderi (Afghanistan), in the chair. At its first sitting, the draft resolution on International law as it relates to national sovereignty, non-intervention in the internal affairs of States and human rights was presented to the Committee by the co‑Rapporteurs, Mr. A.J. Ahmad (United Arab Emirates) and Mr. P. Mahoux (Belgium). In the ensuing debate, 34 speakers took the floor, of whom 44 per cent were women.

The Committee started its deliberations on the text of the draft resolution in the afternoon of 13 October. It had before it 102 amendments submitted by 14 parliaments (Canada, China, Cuba, France, India, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Jordan, Monaco, Romania, Spain, Switzerland, Ukraine, United Kingdom and Venezuela) and five amendments proposed by the Meeting of Women Parliamentarians.

The Committee initially worked in plenary but then decided to set up a drafting committee to pursue its work on 15 October. The drafting committee was chaired by the President of the Committee and was composed of parliamentarians from Algeria, Bahrain, Canada, China, Côte d’Ivoire, France, Jordan, Namibia, Peru, Switzerland, Thailand and Venezuela. The drafting committee considered most of the amendments that were before it, but decided to send four paragraphs back to the full Committee for its consideration.

At its plenary sitting later the same day, the Committee took a decision on the outstanding paragraphs, but was not in a position to go through the entire text of the resolution. That review was deferred to a supplementary sitting convened for the following morning.

At the Committee’s final sitting on 16 October, a number of delegations reintroduced amendments that had been proposed within the statutory deadline, but which had been rejected during the drafting process. The Committee was consequently unable to conclude its work within the allocated time and decided to pursue its proceedings at the 132nd Assembly in Viet Nam, on the basis of the text that had been agreed thus far.

(ii)    Election of the Bureau and future work programme

One vacancy on the Bureau, for a man from the Eurasia Group, remained unfilled, as no nominations had been received during the Assembly.

The Bureau met on 14 October to consider proposals for the Committee’s agenda at upcoming Assemblies. It heard presentations from the delegations of Canada, Iceland, San Marino and Viet Nam. After discussion, the Bureau resolved to propose four subjects for the future agenda of the Committee.

At its third sitting on 16 October, the Committee agreed to the Bureau’s proposal that the subject of the next resolution should be Democracy in the digital era and the threat to privacy and individual freedoms. It endorsed the proposal to appoint Ms. B. Jónsdóttir (Iceland) as co-Rapporteur, and requested the IPU President to carry out consultations with a view to identifying a second co-Rapporteur.

The Committee also agreed to the Bureau’s proposal to place the following items on its agenda for the 132nd and 133rd Assemblies:

  • Follow-up on implementation of the 2012 IPU resolution on Access to health as a basic right: The role of parliaments in addressing key challenges to securing the health of women and children
  • Interactive debate on The Convention on the Rights of the Child 25 years on: Are children’s lives better?
  • Interactive debate on Human trafficking and migration.

(e)   Standing Committee on United Nations Affairs

(i)    Activities during the 131st Assembly

The Standing Committee held three sittings, two on 14 October and one on 15 October, with its President, Ms. D.-T. Avgerinopoulou (Greece), in the chair

At the first sitting, the Committee held an interactive debate with the UN Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order, Prof. A. de Zayas. The debate was moderated by the Standing Committee President.

At its second sitting, the Committee held another interactive debate, on the question of corporate influence on UN decision-making. The panel consisted of Ms. P. Bayr (Austria, MP), Mr. J. Kagone, Permanent Representative of Kenya to the United Nations Office at Geneva, and Mr. J. Martens, Director of the Global Policy Forum.  The panel was moderated by Mr. A. Motter of the IPU Secretariat.

The Committee engaged in a third interactive debate at its last sitting, on 15 October, on the process leading up to the 2016 UN General Assembly Special Session on Drugs, which would review progress on the 2009 Political Declaration and Plan of Action on International Cooperation towards an Integrated and Balanced Strategy to Counter the World Drug Problem.  The debate was co-moderated by Mr. A. Avsan (Sweden, MP) and Ms. L. Rojas (Mexico, MP). The panel comprised Mr. L. de Alba, Mexico’s Ambassador to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Mr. J.-L. Lemahieu, UNODC Director, Policy Analysis and Public Affairs, and Swedish journalist Mr. E. de la Reguera.

For the report on the Standing Committee’s activities during the 131st Assembly, click here.

(ii)    Election of the Bureau and future work programme

The Standing Committee Bureau had five vacancies, one for the African Group and two each for the Eurasia Group and the Asia-Pacific Group. The Committee accepted the proposals received from the Geopolitical Groups for new Bureau members as follows: Mr. S. Chiheb (Algeria), Ms. E. Nursanty (Indonesia) and Mr. J. Jahangirzadeh (Islamic Republic of Iran). It had received no candidatures from the Eurasia Group.

The Committee Bureau met on 13 October to discuss the Committee’s current work and its 2015 work programme as well as the annual Parliamentary Hearing at the United Nations in New York, which would take place on 19 and 20 November 2014. The Bureau decided to gather ideas for the 2015 programme of work and make a final decision at an extraordinary session to be convened on 21 November.  It also decided to hold a joint meeting with the Sub-Committee on the future IPU-UN cooperation agreement, on 18 or 19 November.  For its sittings at the 132nd Assembly in Hanoi, the Committee had two initial items for discussion: follow-up of an earlier field mission to Viet Nam and review of UN work with parliamentarians, particularly through parliamentary networks and associations.

(f)   Debate on the emergency item

The role of parliaments in supporting an immediate and robust international response to the Ebola epidemic and in enacting laws ensuring an effective response to and preparedness for Ebola and other infectious disease outbreaks (Item 7)

The debate on the emergency item was held in the morning of Tuesday, 14 October, with the IPU President, Mr. A. Radi, in the chair.

Sixteen speakers took the floor during the debate. They expressed deep concern over what was one of the worst health disasters in recent history, affecting not only five countries in West Africa (Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, Senegal and Sierra Leone) but also several countries in Europe and North America. They underscored that Ebola was a global challenge and that the international community should therefore act swiftly to combat the epidemic.

Many speakers reiterated the need for immediate and coordinated action to support the countries affected, especially those with limited resources for fighting the epidemic effectively. They raised concerns about the Ebola patients in poverty-stricken communities and deplored the fact that many were dying even before being treated. Several participants underscored the need to isolate the Ebola virus rather than the countries affected, and urged other countries not to impose travel bans.

The participants also focused on the need to develop an effective vaccine and treatments, so as to prevent and cure Ebola, in cooperation with specialized international organizations, such as the World Health Organization (WHO), and with the pharmaceutical industry. Others called on developed countries to help the countries affected develop effective health care infrastructure. One participant called on the international community to make trial medicines available to all countries affected by the virus.

The delegate from Guinea, a country directly affected by the virus, thanked his fellow parliamentarians for having voted to adopt the emergency item on Ebola. He called for further support and immediate action from the international community, underscoring that Ebola was not just a health concern; it was undermining already fragile economies and becoming a public safety issue.

At the end of the debate, the Assembly referred the emergency item to a drafting committee made up of representatives of Belgium, Cambodia, Côte d’Ivoire, Ecuador, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Mexico, Sudan, Sweden and Zambia.

The drafting committee appointed Ms. S. Tioulong (Cambodia) as its chair and Ms. L.A. Yace de Mel (Côte d’Ivoire), as its rapporteur. It met on 14 October to finalize the draft resolution.

On 15 October, the Assembly adopted the resolution unanimously.

5.   Concluding session

At the last sitting in the afternoon of 16 October, the Assembly had before it the Outcome Document of the General Debate on Achieving gender equality, ending violence against women and the reports of the Standing Committees.

Ms. S. Ataullahjan (Canada) and Mr. G. Monde (Zambia), representing women and men members of parliament and the younger generation of lawmakers, jointly made a bold call for parliamentary action to achieve gender equality and end violence against women.

The Assembly noted that the Standing Committee on Democracy and Human Rights had not been in a position to conclude its work within the allotted time on the draft resolution entitled International law as it relates to national sovereignty, non-intervention in the internal affairs of States and human rights. It therefore proposed that, on the occasion of the 132nd Assembly, the Committee resume its work on the basis of what had been agreed thus far. The Assembly took note of the reports of the other three Standing Committees.

In his concluding remarks, President Radi provided an overview of the highlights of the 131st Assembly. He read out a Statement of the Executive Committee condemning the alarming spread of terrorism and extremism and appealing for calm and peace, which were the only guarantees of a stable and secure future. In closing, he reiterated his congratulations to his successor, Mr. S. Chowdhury, on his election by the Governing Council as President of the IPU and wished him every success in his new functions.

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