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OVERVIEW OF MAIN EVENTS AND DECISIONS
(Hanoi, 28 March - 1 April 2015)
1. Inaugural ceremony
The inaugural ceremony took place in the plenary chamber of the National Assembly of Viet Nam on Saturday 28 March 2015 at 8 p.m. with H.E. the President of the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam, Mr. Truong Tan Sang, in attendance.
In his opening address, the President of Viet Nam said that it was an honour for his country to host the 132nd IPU Assembly in its capital, Hanoi, for the first time since its admission to the IPU some 36 years previously. The Assembly would be the greatest event in multilateral diplomacy ever held in his country. He welcomed the delegates representing the IPU’s Member Parliaments, Associate Members and Observers, as well as representatives of international organizations. He encouraged them to explore the historical and cultural traditions of Viet Nam, as well as the beauty of the land and people.
Mr. Truong Tan Sang praised the IPU for making positive and remarkable contributions to peace, cooperation, development, democracy, social progress, social equality and human rights. The world today was undergoing swift, profound and unpredictable changes. Increasing instability, religious and ethnic conflicts, disputes over territories, natural resources, seas and islands, the arms race and problems related to climate change, epidemics, water security and non-compliance with international law were all cause for concern.
Viet Nam had been doing its best to join hands with other countries to build a peaceful world on the foundations of stability, cooperation and prosperity. From a war-devastated country Viet Nam had become a development partner with a dynamic economy and an open-door policy, as well as a promising destination to foreign investors.
He hoped the 132nd Assembly would be one of actions, in which ideas and recommendations would be turned into practical outcomes, enhancing the role of parliaments in efforts to address urgent global issues.
Ms. A.J. Mohammed, United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Post-2015 Development Planning, commended the choice of theme for the Assembly. She brought greetings from and delivered the message of the UN Secretary-General.
The United Nations had consulted with civil society, the private sector, parliamentarians, academia and others in shaping the post-2015 development agenda. National consultations with local actors had been held in more than 60 countries. The work of the Open Working Group on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) had yielded a draft that currently contained 17 goals and 169 targets.
The proposed goals would fully integrate economic, social and environmental dimensions, with poverty eradication as a central theme. The economy and productive capacity, climate change, health and well-being, women’s empowerment and redressing inequalities were addressed in stand-alone goals. The goals also covered ways to build peaceful and inclusive societies, with provisions for financial and non-financial means of implementation. Most importantly, the proposed SDGs were based on the premise that no one would be left behind.
She underscored the pivotal role of parliaments, which served as a bridge between citizens and governments. They could and must lead the way, galvanizing action and fostering accountability and implementation. Parliaments’ first role was to create an enabling environment for the implementation of the post-2015 agenda through legislation. They could also ensure that State budgets reflected their governments’ commitment to achieving the agenda in line with their development priorities. A third role was exercising oversight through monitoring and evaluation and holding governments to account.
She concluded by stating that parliaments would be at the forefront of efforts to make those ambitious goals a reality and deliver them to the people. The United Nations looked forward to continued cooperation with the IPU on that important dossier.
Mr. S. Chowdhury, President of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, said that it was his first time attending an IPU Assembly as President and he was delighted to do so in Viet Nam, land of the ascending dragon. It was a nation of diverse and rich ethnic, religious and cultural heritage. He had been touched by the host Parliament’s warm hospitality and meticulous arrangements. Viet Nam had surpassed all expectations in organizing the first truly global gathering in the new National Assembly and in the country.
As the longest-standing political multilateral organization in the world, the IPU predated even the League of Nations. Established in 1889, the IPU’s membership currently counted 166 parliaments, representing some 45,000 members of parliament around the world. The Organization continued to strive for universal membership.
The IPU President praised the choice of theme for the General Debate, which was both timely and topical. He expressed the hope that the outcome document, the Hanoi Declaration, would feed into the UN process on the post-2015 development agenda. Three new global processes – sustainable development, disaster risk reduction and climate change – would be emerging; ensuring their coherence and convergence would be critical to their success.
2015 would be a pivotal year: the United Nations would celebrate its 70th anniversary, which would provide an opportunity for stock-taking and review. 2015 would also mark 20 years since the adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and would mark the 30th anniversary of the IPU’s Meeting of Women Parliamentarians. Those landmarks in the promotion of women’s participation had laid the foundations for progress. It was in 1921 that women had first attended an Inter-Parliamentary Conference, and they had numbered only two, whereas some 200 were expected to attend the Assembly in Hanoi. He hoped that the 132nd IPU Assembly would be remembered not only for the warmth and friendliness of the Vietnamese people, but also for the depth and clarity of the substance it would generate by way of the Hanoi Declaration and other outcomes.
Mr. Nguyen Sinh Hun, President of the National Assembly of Viet Nam, said that the ideal of peace through dialogue advocated by the IPU’s founding fathers 125 years earlier remained relevant and valuable even today. From only nine Members at its inception in 1889, the IPU currently embraced 166 Member Parliaments, making it truly the world organization of parliaments. Along with its growing membership, the IPU's profile and importance were ever increasing, as it made its voice heard in many forums.
The theme of the General Debate was of great significance in view of the imminent expiry of the MDGs. Apart from that, the 132nd IPU Assembly would be setting aside time for the discussion of many important topics such as cyber warfare, water governance, international law, national sovereignty, human rights, gender equality, HIV/AIDS and maternal and child care. Convened in the year of the 70th anniversary of the United Nations, the 30th anniversary of the Meeting of Women Parliamentarians, the 25th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the 20th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, the Assembly would provide an excellent opportunity to consider progress made and challenges ahead, and in particular to hold in-depth discussions on the role of parliaments in implementing the new development agenda.
He was confident that the Hanoi Declaration, to be adopted by the Assembly, would send a clear message about parliament’s place in the post-2015 process and would serve as a practical contribution to the new development era for the international community.
The new National Assembly building overlooked Ba Dinh Square, where, 70 years previously, President Ho Chi Minh had read the historic Declaration of Independence, announcing to the world the birth of a new, independent Viet Nam. Soon after the restoration of peace in Indochina in 1954, the National Assembly had applied for membership of the IPU.
Over the past 70 years, inspired by a spirit of peace, national independence, democracy, cooperation and development embraced by President Ho Chi Minh, the nation of Viet Nam had struggled for peace and carried out reforms, striving to achieve “wealthy people, a strong country and a democratic, just and advanced society”. He declared the 132nd IPU Assembly officially open.
2. Election of the President
The 132nd Assembly opened at the National Convention Centre in Hanoi in the morning of Sunday 29 March, with the election by acclamation of Mr. Nguyen Sinh Hung, Speaker of the National Assembly of Viet Nam, as President of the Assembly.
Over the course of the Assembly, the President was assisted by the following Vice-Presidents: Lord Faulkner (United Kingdom), Ms. S. Mahajan (India), Ms. B. Bishop (Australia), Mr. P.-F. Veillon (Switzerland), Ms. A.A. Lemos (Brazil) and Ms. B. Mbete (South Africa).
Delegations from 128 Member Parliaments took part in the work of the Assembly:
Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Angola, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belarus, Belgium, Bhutan, Botswana, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Chad, Chile, China, Côte d’Ivoire, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Denmark, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Gabon, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Guinea, Haiti, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Latvia, Lesotho, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mauritania, Mexico, Micronesia (Federated States of), Monaco, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Palau, Palestine, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Romania, Russian Federation, Rwanda, San Marino, Sao Tome and Principe, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Slovakia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Sweden, Switzerland, Syrian Arab Republic, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey, 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 Arab Parliament, the Central American Parliament, the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA), European Parliament, Inter-Parliamentary Committee of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU), Parliament of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the Latin American Parliament (Parlatino), and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE).
The following three parliaments participated as Observers with a view to future affiliation: Brunei Darussalam, Fiji and Nauru.
Other Observers comprised representatives of: (i) the United Nations system: the United Nations, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA), Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (PMNCH), the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), UN Women, the World Health Organization (WHO); (ii) the International Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions (INTOSAI), the International Organization for Migration (IOM); (iii) the League of Arab States; (iv) the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly (JPA), the African Parliamentary Union (APU), the Arab Inter-Parliamentary Union (AIPU), the Asian Parliamentary Assembly (APA), the Global Organization of Parliamentarians against Corruption (GOPAC), the Maghreb Consultative Council, ParlAmericas, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (PABSEC), the Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean (PAM), the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE PA), Parliamentary Assembly of the Union of the Mediterranean (PA-UfM), the Parliamentary Assembly of the Union of Belarus and Russia, the Parliamentary Union of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation Member States (PUIC); (v) the Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria; (vi) Socialist International; (vii) 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).
Of the 1,370 delegates who attended the Assembly, 678 were members of parliament. Those parliamentarians included 45 Presiding Officers, 46 Deputy Presiding Officers and 189 women (27.8%).
4. Choice of an emergency item
On 29 March, the President informed the Assembly that eight requests had been received to include an emergency item on the agenda, as follows:
The delegations of Morocco, Jordan and Venezuela withdrew their proposals before the vote. The delegation of Kenya withdrew its proposal and asked that it be referred to the Standing Committee on Sustainable Development, Finance and Trade.
The Assembly held a roll-call vote on the final list of four items. The proposal put forward jointly by Australia and Belgium, which had received the required two-thirds majority and the highest number of votes in favour, was adopted and added to the agenda as Item 9.
5. Debates and decisions of the Assembly and its Standing Committees
(a) General Debate: The Sustainable Development Goals: Turning words into action
The General Debate was introduced with keynote addresses by Ms. Tong Thi Phong, Vice President of the National Assembly of Viet Nam, Ms. A.J. Mohammed, Special Adviser to the Secretary-General of the United Nations on Post-2015 Development Planning, and Mr. S. Chowdhury, IPU President.
Ms. Tong Thi Phong said that, despite multiple difficulties and challenges, Viet Nam had achieved important results in implementing the MDGs, in particular those related to poverty reduction, gender equality and education. In order to attain the SDGs, to be adopted later in 2015, the role of parliaments in promulgating, amending and supplementing relevant national laws must be strengthened. At the same time, more effective cooperation would be required between the IPU and the United Nations, including on peace and security as a prerequisite for sustainable development. She called for the adoption of an outcome document from the 132nd Assembly, to be entitled “The Hanoi Declaration”, which would reflect the positions of parliaments with regard to post-2015 development objectives.
Ms. A.J. Mohammed said that the eventual agreement of Heads of State on the SDGs would afford a unique opportunity for a paradigm shift in international development. The breadth and depth of the set of 17 goals and 169 associated targets was unprecedented. They were designed to reinforce commitment to the unfinished business of the MDGs. New ground was being broken with goals on inequalities, economic growth, jobs, urbanization, energy, sustainable consumption and production patterns, climate change, environment, and peaceful society. The role of parliamentarians was crucial to ensure that the post-2015 development agenda would become a reality. In addition to being entrusted with the “power of the purse”, parliaments were key determinants in mobilizing means of implementation and enhancing accountability through legislative oversight. She expressed the hope that the 132nd IPU Assembly in Hanoi would be an occasion to renew the IPU's commitment to contributing to a stronger and more effective post-2015 development agenda.
The President of the IPU said that the SDGs should be seen as a response to multiple global problems that were inextricably interlinked and could be solved only if all actors worked together. Failure to overcome those problems would mean an inhospitable, overheated planet where only the rich could afford to live comfortably, the economy would be driven into the ground because it would lose its resource base, and unimaginable inequality and human suffering would prevail. The SDGs were a roadmap to where the global community aspired to be in 15 years’ time. Each country had a responsibility to identify ways and means to get there. The job of parliaments was to hold governments to account for their global commitment, and make sure that laws and budgets to be adopted were in line with national sustainable development plans. The Hanoi Declaration would feed into the Declaration of the Fourth World Conference of Speakers of Parliament, which in turn would be presented to the United Nations Summit.
The General Debate took place over the course of three days. Representatives of 101 Member Parliaments, two Associate Members and seven Permanent Observers took the floor.
In the morning of 30 March, Mr. Le Luong Minh, Secretary General of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) addressed the Assembly. In the afternoon of the same day, the Assembly heard Mr. Pham Binh Minh, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Viet Nam.
(b) Standing Committee on Peace and International Security
The Standing Committee on Peace and International Security held four sittings from 29 to 31 March, with its President, Mr. R. Tau (South Africa), in the Chair. The Standing Committee had before it an explanatory memorandum and draft resolution, entitled Cyber warfare: A serious threat to peace and global security, jointly prepared by the co-Rapporteurs, Mr. N. Lazrek (Morocco) and Mr. J.C. Mahía (Uruguay). It also had before it 149 proposed amendments to the draft resolution, submitted by 18 Member Parliaments and the Meeting of Women Parliamentarians.
At its first sitting, the Standing Committee discussed the explanatory memorandum and draft resolution, which were presented by the co-Rapporteurs. A total of 32 speakers took the floor during the discussion. The Standing Committee then went on to consider the proposed amendments to the draft in two plenary sittings. About 60 per cent of the proposed amendments were approved.
At its morning sitting on 31 March, the Standing Committee adopted the consolidated draft by consensus. Reservations were expressed by the delegations of Cuba and Venezuela. The Committee agreed that Ms. S. Taqawi (Bahrain) would present the draft resolution to the Assembly.
The draft resolution was submitted to the Assembly at its plenary sitting in the afternoon of 1 April, and adopted by consensus . Reservations were expressed by the delegation of Venezuela on account of the use of the term “cyber warfare”.
Elections to the Bureau were held at the Standing Committee’s second sitting, to allow the two newly elected Bureau members to attend the Bureau meeting the following day.
The Bureau met on 30 March to discuss the Standing Committee’s next subject item and its work plan. Two potential subjects for discussion were considered, one on the global drug problem, proposed by Sweden and Mexico, and the other on terrorism, proposed by India. The Bureau opted to leave the choice of the next subject item to the plenary Committee, which decided, by a large majority, to address the issue of terrorism. That proposal was subsequently approved by the Assembly.
The Bureau agreed to focus on two activities during the 133rd IPU Assembly: an expert hearing on the subject item chosen for discussion by the Standing Committee, and a panel discussion on the one that had not been selected.
(c) Standing Committee on Sustainable Development, Finance and Trade
The Standing Committee on Sustainable Development, Finance and Trade held sittings on 29, 30 and 31 March with its President, Mr. R. León (Chile), in the chair. In addition to the explanatory memorandum and draft resolution prepared by the two co-Rapporteurs on the item, Mr. I. Cassis (Switzerland) and Mr. J.J. Mwiimbu (Zambia), the Committee had before it 70 proposed amendments to the resolution, presented by 15 Member Parliaments and nine submitted by the Meeting of Women Parliamentarians.
The Standing Committee’s deliberations culminated in the acceptance of some of the proposed amendments and the approval of the consolidated draft resolution in its entirety.
Having approved the resolution, the Standing Committee held a discussion on Follow-up on the IPU water governance resolution: Taking it forward. Delegates from 21 countries took the floor, highlighting the importance of the IPU resolution as an important trigger for parliamentary action on the issue of water in the context of a global push to manage water supplies in a more responsible and sustainable manner. They agreed that the resolution provided a solid framework for each parliament to build on. Delegations were urged to bring the resolution to the attention of their parliaments and thereby further enhance awareness of the important points covered in that document.
At its final sitting on 31 March, the Standing Committee agreed on the proposal for its next subject item, Ensuring lasting protection against destruction and deterioration for the tangible and intangible cultural heritage of humanity. Belgium, which had proposed the subject item, nominated Mr. A. Destexhe as a co‑Rapporteur. The Standing Committee asked the IPU President to carry out consultations with the Member Parliaments on the nomination of a second co-Rapporteur.
Due to a lack of quorum, the Standing Committee did not hold elections to fill the vacancies on its Bureau.
(d) Standing Committee on Democracy and Human Rights
The Standing Committee on Democracy and Human Rights held four sittings between 30 March and 1 April, with its President, Ms. F. Naderi (Afghanistan), in the chair.
At its first sitting, the Committee finalized the resolution on International law as it relates to national sovereignty, non-intervention in the internal affairs of States and human rights, resuming its work on the basis of the text as it had stood at the end of the 131st Assembly in October 2014. The President, accompanied by the co‑Rapporteurs, Mr. A.J. Ahmad (United Arab Emirates) and Mr. P. Mahoux (Belgium), noted that the Standing Committee had held an extensive debate and examined the amendments to the draft resolution at the 131st Assembly. Consequently, no new amendments could be introduced and the debate that had taken place at the previous Assembly would not be reopened.
The Committee first voted on the procedure for finalizing the resolution. By 32 votes to 13, it decided to consider the resolution as a whole, rather than paragraph by paragraph.
The Committee subsequently voted on the substance of the resolution, and approved the text by 37 votes in favour and three against. Ten delegations abstained and five expressed reservations. The delegation of Cuba expressed reservations on operative paragraphs 14 and 19. The delegation of India expressed reservations on preambular paragraphs 6, 11, 13, 14, 15, 17, 18, 20 and 22 and operative paragraphs 9, 10, 11, 13, 14, 15, 17 and 18. The delegation of the Islamic Republic of Iran expressed reservations on preambular paragraphs 5, 8 and 22 and operative paragraphs 7, 11, 16 and 21. The delegation of the Russian Federation expressed a reservation on operative paragraph 19. The delegation of Sudan expressed a reservation on operative paragraph 18.
At the final sitting of the Assembly on 1 April, the President of the Standing Committee presented the resolution for adoption by the Assembly. She informed the Assembly of the reservations formulated by the five delegations in the Standing Committee, and proposed that those reservations be reflected in the official records of the Assembly.
The delegations of Venezuela and Cuba took the floor to express concerns about the Committee’s procedure, arguing that there should have been more time for debate and more opportunities to review the decisions taken by the drafting committee at the 131st Assembly. The delegation of India hoped that the resolution could be improved in the future.
The delegation of Sudan said that it rejected operative paragraph 18 because of its reference to the International Criminal Court, whose jurisdiction Sudan and the African Union did not recognize. Due to the inclusion of that paragraph, it was opposed to the resolution as a whole, and therefore questioned whether the resolution could be adopted “by consensus”. The IPU Secretary General explained that resolutions could be adopted “unanimously” if no delegations voiced their opposition or reservations or otherwise “by consensus”. The President of the Assembly therefore declared that the resolution had been adopted by consensus.
Concerning the other work of the Committee, the President informed the Committee at its first sitting on 30 March that, following consultations, the President of the IPU had nominated Mr. H. Jhun (Republic of Korea) as the second co-Rapporteur for the Committee’s next resolution, Democracy in the digital era and the threat to privacy and individual freedoms. He would share that role with Ms. B. Jónsdóttir from Iceland, who had been appointed as co-Rapporteur at the 131st Assembly. The Committee approved the nomination of Mr. Jhun.
A preparatory debate for the next resolution took place on 1 April, moderated by Ms. Jónsdóttir and Mr. Jhun. Eighteen delegations took the floor. The President invited all members to submit their written contributions for the text of the resolution by 15 May.
On 31 March, the Committee held a debate to review progress since the adoption 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.
At its last sitting on 1 April, the Committee also held an interactive debate to mark the 25th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, entitled The Convention on the Rights of the Child 25 years on: Are children’s lives better?
A report on those three interactive debates was presented to the Assembly by Mr. D. Pkosing Losiakou (Kenya), a member of the Committee’s Bureau.
The Bureau met on 28 March to discuss the Standing Committee’s agenda for the 132nd and 133rd Assemblies. The President informed the Committee that the 133rd Assembly would take place in Geneva in October 2015, rather than in Cartagena (Colombia) in November, as had been originally planned. That change might have an impact on the Committee’s schedule. Two items had been foreseen for the agenda of the 133rd Assembly: the preparation of a resolution on Democracy in the digital era and the threat to privacy and individual freedoms, and an interactive debate on human trafficking and migration. Depending on decisions taken regarding the format of the Assembly, it might be necessary to postpone the interactive debate to the following Assembly.
Elections to the Bureau of the Committee were held at the Committee’s sitting in the morning of 1 April. Two vacant posts were filled by the Arab Group and GRULAC respectively. The Committee was informed that two Bureau members from the Arab Group and one from the Twelve Plus Group would no longer be able to participate in the work of the Bureau, because they were no longer members of parliament or would no longer be part of the delegation to the IPU. Those members were therefore replaced by other parliamentarians from the same countries to serve the remainder of their term. One vacant post for the Eurasia Group remained unfilled. As the term of the Vice-President of the Committee expired at the 132nd Assembly, an election to fill that position from among the Bureau members would need to take place at the 133rd Assembly.
The Bureau also discussed potential themes for the next Global Parliamentary Report and was informed that an open consultation would be held on 1 April to garner a wider range of views from parliamentarians.
(e) Standing Committee on United Nations Affairs
The Standing Committee on United Nations Affairs held three sittings, one on 29 March and two on 31 March 2015, with its Vice-President, Mr. El Hassan Al Amin (Sudan), in the Chair.
At its first sitting, the Standing Committee held an interactive debate to mark the 70th anniversary of the United Nations. The session was opened with a keynote address by Mr. L. Montiel, Assistant Secretary-General, United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, and contributions from two panellists, Ms. B. Bishop, Speaker of the House of Representatives of Australia and Mr. M. Tommasoli, Permanent Observer of International IDEA to the United Nations. The Standing Committee discussed whether the United Nations remained as relevant today as when it had been founded in 1945. It concluded that it was, in fact, more important than ever, given the many challenges facing the world, which could not be overcome by individual States acting in isolation.
At the Standing Committee’s second sitting, Mr. D. Dawson (Canada) moderated a review of IPU field missions to examine interaction between United Nations country teams and national parliaments. Ms. S. Beavers, Policy Adviser, Inclusive Political Processes Team, UNDP, explained the new United Nations country team configurations and processes. Ms. S. Lyimo (United Republic of Tanzania) and Mr. O. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu (Ghana) presented the situation in their countries, and Standing Committee members shared their experiences.
At its third sitting, the Standing Committee heard from Ms. C. Roth (Germany), Ms. E. Nursantz (Indonesia) and Ms. L. Rojas (Mexico), how their parliaments would mainstream the SDGs. Mr. A. Motter, Senior Adviser, IPU, moderated the session in which participants held a lively discussion on the benefits and drawbacks of various initiatives to ensure that parliaments were fit for purpose to implement the post-2015 United Nations development agenda.
There were six vacancies on the Bureau of the Standing Committee, one each for the African, Twelve Plus and Arab Groups and three for the Eurasia Group. The Standing Committee accepted the following candidatures: Mr. D.G. Boko (Botswana), Mr. A. Avsan (Sweden), Mr. A.K. Azad (Bangladesh) and Mr. K. Kosachev (Russian Federation). Two vacancies remained for the Eurasia Group. Mr. Avsan was nominated by the Committee Bureau as President of the Standing Committee for election at the next session.
The Bureau met on 31 March to discuss the Standing Committee’s work at the 133rd IPU Assembly in October 2015, and other potential work over the coming year. Bureau members agreed to seek to be included in their national delegations to the Fourth World Conference of Speakers of Parliament, which would be held in New York from 31 August to 2 September 2015, and to the UN Summit to adopt the post-2015 development agenda later in September. They were briefed on developments with regard to the post-2015 development agenda and the IPU’s work with the United Nations. The Bureau agreed to meet during the 133rd Assembly in October 2015 in Geneva to mark the 10th anniversary of the UN Peacebuilding Commission, and discuss the universal jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice. They were informed that the annual Parliamentary Hearing at the United Nations would take place early in 2016.
(f) Debate on and adoption of the emergency item
The role of parliaments in combating all terrorist acts perpetrated by organizations such as Daesh and Boko Haram against innocent civilians, in particular women and girls (Item 9)The debate on the emergency item was held in the morning of Monday 30 March, with Mr. P. Burke (Ireland) in the chair.
After a brief presentation by the item’s co-sponsors, the delegations of Australia and Belgium, 12 delegations took the floor. They were unanimous in reaffirming the urgent need to counter terrorism, which was affecting the lives of many innocent people, in particular women and children. Many expressed horror at the mass murders, kidnappings and brutal executions carried out by terrorist groups. Others lamented that young children were being deprived of their right to education. Many repeated that more international cooperation was needed to deny resources – money, arms and combatants – to terrorists. In that regard, they also underscored the urgent need to stop terrorist groups from recruiting young people via social networks. Some delegates, while calling for enhanced international cooperation on the exchange of information, also stressed the need to protect each citizen’s right to privacy.
Various delegations recalled the important role of parliaments and parliamentarians in the fight against terrorism. Many young people, for example, continued to join terrorist organizations, and parliamentarians therefore had to take urgent action to address issues of concern to the younger generation and the root causes of terrorism. Ensuring good governance and eradicating corruption were other key factors in combating terrorism. Legislation had to be adopted so as to ensure those who were responsible for terrorist acts were held accountable and brought to justice.
Representatives from Muslim countries strongly condemned terrorist groups, particularly those invoking Islam as justification for their acts. They stressed that the acts and ideologies advocated by such groups were not recognized by Muslims, who pursued peace.
Participants from countries directly affected by terrorist groups called for international support to help them fight terrorism, emphasizing that they were ill-equipped to do so on their own. It was also proposed that the IPU share the resolution with the UN Security Council.
The Assembly adopted unanimously the resolution on the emergency item at its sitting on 31 March. Afterwards, several delegates took the floor on two issues: terminology and insufficient references to young people.
The delegations of Algeria, Chad, Qatar, Saudi Arabia (also speaking on behalf of Morocco), United Arab Emirates and Venezuela wished to clarify that the term “Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)”, which was used in preambular paragraph 6 of the resolution, was not accurate and had far-reaching negative connotations for Islam, in particular for young Muslims. Moreover, ISIL was not a State, nor should it be acknowledged in any way that the group had any links to Islam. The delegations asked that the group’s self-proclaimed name of “Islamic State” be avoided, to prevent any misunderstandings. Furthermore, future IPU discussions on terrorism should endeavour to bring humanity together in the fight against terrorism.
The IPU President thanked the delegations for the clarification and confirmed that neither the resolution nor the IPU acknowledged that the groups concerned were in any way linked to Islam.
The delegations of Cambodia, Uganda and the United Arab Emirates regretted that the resolution did not refer sufficiently to young people, who were the social group most vulnerable to recruitment by terrorist groups. They suggested that a consultative mechanism be established to ensure that the Forum of Young Parliamentarians make inputs to future resolutions.
6. Concluding sitting
At its final sitting in the afternoon of 1 April, the Assembly had before it the results of the work of the Standing Committees, as well as the Hanoi Declaration – the outcome of the General Debate, Sustainable Development Goals: Turning words into action.
After the adoption of the resolutions and the presentation of the reports of the Standing Committees, the President of the Assembly invited the IPU President to present the Hanoi Declaration.
The President of the IPU highlighted the comprehensive and inclusive nature of the Assembly’s General Debate, as well as the key messages that had emerged from it, which were now included in the Hanoi Declaration. Those messages included the importance of a people-centred approach to sustainable development, the need for stronger parliaments with the capacity to ensure accountability, the need for global partnerships and common but differentiated responsibilities, as well as the critical importance of strong interaction between the United Nations, parliaments and the IPU in the implementation of the post-2015 development agenda.
The President added that the Hanoi Declaration, adopted unanimously by the Assembly, would constitute a significant contribution to both the Fourth World Conference of Speakers of Parliament and the UN Summit in September 2015. He called on all parliaments to translate the Hanoi Declaration into action, by committing to take measures to attain the SDGs.
The Assembly took note of a report presented by Mr. F. Gutzwiller (Switzerland) on the field visit that had been organized to four infant and young child feeding centres in Viet Nam the previous day, 31 March, in which over 30 members of parliament had participated. A short video of the visit was then screened.
The Assembly concluded with statements from the following representatives of the Geopolitical Groups: Mr. M.C. Biadillah (Morocco) on behalf of the Africa Group, Mr. A. Al Tarawneh (Jordan) on behalf of the Arab Group, Ms. N. Marino (Australia) on behalf of the Asia-Pacific Group, Ms. I. Passada (Uruguay) on behalf of the Group of Latin America and Caribbean, and Mr. P. Mahoux (Belgium) on behalf of the Twelve Plus Group. They expressed their satisfaction with the Assembly, which had culminated in tangible and significant outcomes, as well as their deep appreciation for the warm hospitality and excellent arrangements provided by the host country, Viet Nam.
The President of the IPU reiterated his thanks to the Vietnamese hosts for ensuring the success of the Assembly.
The President of the National Assembly of Viet Nam, summing up the results of the Assembly, thanked all participants for their active involvement and declared the 132nd IPU Assembly closed.