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OVERVIEW OF MAIN EVENTS AND DECISIONS
(Geneva, 17-21 October 2015)
1. Opening of the Assembly
The 133rd Assembly opened in the morning of Sunday, 18 October 2015, at the Centre international de Conférences de Genève (CICG). Mr. S. Chowdhury (Bangladesh), President of the IPU, chaired the proceedings. He was assisted by several Vice-Presidents: Mr. S. Kinga, Speaker of the National Council (Bhutan); Mr. M. Niat Njifenji, President of the Senate (Cameroon), Mr. L. Housakos, Speaker of the Senate (Canada); Ms. D. Pascal Allende, Deputy Speaker, Chamber of Deputies (Chile); Ms. S. Mahajan, Speaker of Lok Sabha (India); Mr. W. Simina, Speaker of the Congress, (Micronesia, Federated States of); Mr. P.H. Katjavivi, Speaker of the National Assembly (Namibia); Mr. M.R. Rabbani, Chairman of the Senate (Pakistan); Ms. V. Matviyenko, Speaker of the Council of the Federation (Russian Federation); and Mr. P. Matibini, Speaker of the National Assembly (Zambia).
In his opening remarks, Mr. S. Chowdhury reflected on the many developments that had occurred since being elected IPU President a year earlier. The previous Assembly had concluded with the Hanoi Declaration, The SDGs: Turning words into reality. Its key messages had informed the very successful Fourth World Conference of Speakers of Parliament, held at UN Headquarters in New York in late August/early September, and had been reflected in the outcome of the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit held later in September. Heads of State and Government had explicitly acknowledged the essential role of parliaments in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). United Nations Member States had also endorsed a governance goal (Goal 16) which placed peace, justice and strong institutions at the forefront of the new development agenda.
It was now important for the three major international processes concluded in 2015, which fell under the post-2015 development agenda to form a coherent package as the basis for parliamentary work in the coming years. Those processes were the SDGs, disaster risk reduction and climate change. Until now, efforts had centred primarily on advocacy and awareness-raising; the time had now come for resolute action in the implementation of the new commitments. Parliaments needed to make sure they were fit for purpose. The IPU was ready to help define the main components of parliamentary action and provide relevant assistance.
At the current Assembly, Members were called upon to tackle a number of highly topical issues, including the fight against terrorism and violent extremism, privacy in the digital age, the protection of the tangible and intangible cultural heritage of humanity, as well as climate change.
Delegations from 134 Member Parliaments took part in the work of the Assembly:
Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belarus, Belgium, Benin, Bhutan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cabo Verde, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Chad, Chile, China, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Denmark, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Fiji, Finland, France, Gabon, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, 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, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Madagascar, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Micronesia (Federated States of), Monaco, Mongolia, Morocco, Myanmar, Namibia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Palestine, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Rwanda, San Marino, Sao Tome and Principe, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia, Singapore, Slovenia, South Africa, South Sudan, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Sweden, Switzerland, Syrian Arab Republic, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Togo, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, Uruguay, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
The following Associate Members also took part in the Assembly: the Arab Parliament, the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA), the Inter-Parliamentary Committee of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU), the Latin American Parliament (PARLATINO), and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE).
The following two parliaments participated as Observers with a view to future affiliation: Comoros and Vanuatu.
Other Observers comprised representatives of: (i) the United Nations system: the UN Security Council’s Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED), UN Security Council, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the United Nations, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the International Labour Organization (ILO), the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), 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 Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), UN Women, the World Health Organization (WHO); (ii) the International Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions (INTOSAI), the International Organization for Migration (IOM), World Bank, the World Trade Organization (WTO); (iii) the African Union, the League of Arab States; (iv) 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 Inter-Parliamentary Assembly of the Member Nations of the Commonwealth of Independent States (IPA CIS), the Maghreb Consultative Council, Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament (PNND), the Parliamentary Assembly of the Black Sea Economic Co-operation (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, the Parliamentary Union of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation Member States (PUIC), World Scout Parliamentary Union (WSPU); (v) the Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria; (vi) Liberal International, 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), and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).
Of the 1,399 delegates who attended the Assembly, 647 were members of parliament. Those parliamentarians included 41 Presiding Officers, 50 Deputy Presiding Officers and 210 women (32.5%).
3. Choice of an emergency item
On 18 October 2015, the President informed the Assembly that the following five proposals for the inclusion of an emergency item had been proposed:
The delegations of the United Arab Emirates and Sudan merged their proposals to:
The Assembly held a roll-call vote on the four proposals. The proposal put forward jointly by the United Arab Emirates and Sudan was adopted and added to the agenda as Item 7.
4. Debates and decisions of the Assembly and its Standing Committees
(a) General Debate: The imperative for fairer, smarter and more humane migration (Item 3)
The IPU President introduced the theme of the General Debate, saying thatwhen the theme had been chosen several months previously, the IPU had had no idea that the subject of migration would have been so topical, nor that it would have become a challenge of such proportions. Migration was a very real human tragedy that affected – directly or indirectly – the majority of countries. It was a truly global phenomenon and one of the most debated issues in many parts of the world. As representatives of the people, parliamentarians had a critical role to play: helping to focus on the human face of migration, making sure that migration and asylum policies complied with international human rights principles, keeping constituents informed, questioning the government, leading by example through showcasing what could be done to support persons fleeing violence, and considering migration as an opportunity.
As the world organization of parliaments, the IPU had a responsibility to draw the attention of the global parliamentary community to the issue of migration and to press for prompt and concerted action. Despite the complex nature of migration and various concerns at the national and local levels, it was important for parliamentary debates to focus on facts, solutions, and most importantly, on what parliaments and parliamentarians could do both individually and collectively to address the issue.
Mr. W. Lacy Swing, Director General, International Organization for Migration (IOM), commended the IPU for choosing such a topical and important subject. The world was living in an era of unprecedented human mobility: more than 1 billion people in a world of 7 billion were migrants – 250 million were international migrants and 750 million domestic. There were multiple drivers of large-scale migration, as a result of which the world was experiencing the largest displacement and forced movement of people in recorded history, with 60 million people currently uprooted around the world.
The international community could only respond effectively to such emergencies if it had comprehensive, long-term migration policies. The role of parliaments in achieving that objective was critical. Parliaments held the power to legislate on migration and shape migration policy, including through national action plans and strategies. Such plans could deal with the provision of public housing, access to health care and education, as well as with combating racism and xenophobia. Parliamentarians could also help devise a comprehensive approach to migration policy-making.
Parliamentarians had the power to set the tone of debates and could play a significant role in making the current public discourse on migration more balanced and evidence-based. Growing anti-migrant sentiment, especially in Europe, was unnecessarily endangering the lives of migrants and ignoring the overwhelmingly positive contribution that migrants continued to make. Ms. K. Kyenge, a member of the European Parliament, speaking at the opening of the General Debate, embodied the very essence of responsible policies. While serving as the Italian Minister for Integration, she had supported a poster campaign organized by IOM depicting migrant doctors saving the lives of Italians.
Parliamentarians also had the financial power to approve and allocate resources that could affect migration policy and migrants themselves. Migration policy needed to include a number of elements relating to integration, return to migrants' countries of origin and access to public services, all of which required adequate funding. The Director General presented an overview of the actions taken by IOM in support of parliamentary work on migration at the global, regional and national levels. He concluded by emphasizing that migration was not a problem to be solved, but rather a human phenomenon that needed to be managed in a fairer, smarter and more humane manner.
Mr. G. Ryder, Director-General, International Labour Organization (ILO), underscored the moral and humanitarian considerations for tackling migration effectively and fairly. The ILO Constitution spoke to the rights of migrant workers and underscored that “labour was not a commodity”. A number of international instruments had been developed over the years to better manage migration. Those included the United Nations Convention on the Protection of the Rights of all Migrant Workers and Members of their Families, as well as the ILO conventions on migrant workers (No. 143), private employment agencies (No. 181) and domestic workers (No. 189), as well as the 2014 Protocol on forced labour, which addressed the scourge of human trafficking.
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development called for migration to be regulated in an “orderly, safe, regular and responsible” manner. To achieve that, countries needed to adopt well-managed migration policies that enabled migrants to fully develop their potential to contribute to human and economic development. Migration was an opportunity, and policymakers needed to recognize that migration yielded significant benefits for host countries and countries of origin, as well as for individuals, families and communities. Destination countries benefited from new skills, a much-needed work force in the context of ageing populations, and contributions to the national economy. Countries of origin benefited from remittances, investments from diaspora networks and the newly-acquired skills and experience of returning migrants. Yet migrants continued to face many challenges, which must be tackled.
It was important to counter stereotypes, prejudice and misinformation with hard economic facts. For example, a recent study presented to the G20 concluded that in most countries, migrants' contributions to national economies outweighed the cost of the social benefits that they received. At the same time, it was important to go beyond simple economic calculations and carefully take into account the humanitarian obligations that all countries faced. The ILO was keen to work closely with the IPU and its Member Parliaments in helping to address those issues.
Ms. K. Kyenge, Member of the European Parliament and Vice-President of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly,was invited to share her personal experience and perspectives on migration. Born and raised in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ms. Kyenge first came to Italy to study medicine. Since then, she had experienced multiple challenges until she had finally been accepted as a valuable citizen of her country of adoption. She had been at the forefront of efforts to promote mutual awareness, integration and cooperation between Europe and Africa, while also working hard to protect the rights of migrants in Italy.
She said that migration was a global phenomenon that could not be dealt with by States alone. It required joint action, solidarity and a truly global approach. In the past months, the EU had been faced with an unprecedented influx of migrants and refugees. It had adopted the European Agenda for Migration, which provided for concrete and immediate measures to deal with the current crisis, and for the elaboration of medium- and long-term internal and external policies. Much more remained to be done. For example, the EU had yet to develop a common asylum system and to revise the Dublin II Regulation on asylum applications; the European Parliament had been calling for a review of that Regulation for many years.
Ms. Kyenge also called for vigilance: certain measures and policies posed significant risks to the very values and principles on which the EU was founded. Any approach to migration needed to be centred on human rights and fundamental freedoms and entail political dialogue and cooperation with countries of origin. That would help support democratization processes and economic development in those countries and counter human trafficking and the smuggling of migrants. It was up to parliaments and parliamentary assemblies to make sure that fundamental democratic principles were observed and that international commitments were met so as to ensure a better future for all citizens.
During the three days of debate, representatives of 95 Member Parliaments, two regional parliamentary organizations and three other Permanent Observers spoke on the theme.
The debate provided them with an opportunity to exchange views on the multi-faceted challenges linked to the increasingly complex global phenomenon of migration. It was noted that mixed migration flows comprised migrant workers, asylum-seekers, individuals who moved for a combination of reasons, as well as those who were known as “survival migrants”.
Members recognized that parliamentarians had a particular responsibility regarding migration. They had to demonstrate political leadership, listen to and voice the concerns of their constituents, raise awareness, oversee government action and support it by adequately resourcing the responsible bodies.
In the morning of 19 October, the Assembly debated the humanitarian dimension of migration. Ms. C. Beerli, Vice-President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), and Mr. V. Türk, Assistant United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), spoke during the discussions.
of the World Health Organization (WHO)
In the afternoon of the same day, Dr. M. Chan addressed the Assembly as a special guest. In her presentation, the Director-General pointed out that parliamentarians were uniquely well-positioned to tackle complex health problems across multiple sectors of government and through multilateral agreements, resolutions and other legislative tools.
She presented a number of challenges to the delegates: do everything to get governments to introduce reforms that moved health systems closer to universal coverage, which was one of the most powerful social equalizers among all policy options. Universal health coverage was not cheap but, with the right policies in place, was affordable. As watchdogs, parliaments should look for ways to reduce waste and inefficiency in the delivery of health services. Sometimes the incentives were wrong: they encouraged overuse of tests, overprescribing and longer-than-needed hospitals stays.
Dr. Chan urged parliamentarians to watch the costs of medicines and trade agreements that made it harder for lower-priced generic medicines of good quality to enter the market. When the price of a new drug cost US$ 1,000 a pill, the manufacturer should be pressed to reveal the actual production costs. Sometimes changing unhealthy human behaviours meant changing the behaviours of powerful economic operators, including multinational corporations. If they promised to stop marketing unhealthy foods and beverages to children, they should be held accountable. As for labels on food, did they help consumers make healthy choices, or did they confuse them? Could the mother of a diabetic child easily determine how many spoonfuls of sugar were contained in a cereal or a snack?
The WHO Director General also urged parliamentarians to encourage their governments to raise taxes on tobacco products. Doing so was unquestionably the most effective demand-reduction strategy set out in the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. Remarkably, it was also the least used, largely because of interference from the tobacco industry.
Above all, she encouraged members of parliament to fight against tax policies, trade policies, or insurance policies that punished the poor, appealing to them to use their power wisely to support a sustainable future.
Following her presentation, Dr. Chan fielded a number of questions from the floor, notably from the delegations of Cuba, Indonesia, Italy, Lesotho and Mexico. They all commended the good work WHO was doing in many fields, including reproductive health and dealing with the Ebola crisis. They welcomed her call for greater collaboration between WHO and the IPU and her invitation to hold a side event for parliamentarians at the next World Health Assembly in May 2016.
At the end of the debate, the Assembly endorsed the Declaration on the imperative for fairer, smarter and more humane migration. It set out priority tasks for parliamentarians with regard to building and implementing a protective legal framework; ensuring fairness, non-discrimination and respect for the human rights of migrants; and working for social cohesion, and peaceful, inclusive societies.
(b) Standing Committee on Peace and International Security
(i) Activities during the 133rd Assembly
The Standing Committee on Peace and International Security held one sitting on 18 October 2015 with its President, Mr. R. Tau (South Africa), in the Chair.
During that sitting, the Committee held an expert hearing on Terrorism: The need to enhance global cooperation against the threat to democracy and individual rights, the topic of a resolution that was expected to be adopted by the 134th IPU Assembly in Lusaka (Zambia). During the discussion, Committee members learned about current issues relating to counter-terrorism and exchanged views with experts.
The hearing opened with the statements of two experts, Mr. A.S. El Dawla, representing the Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED), and Mr. K. Koser, Executive Director of the Global Community Engagement and Resilience Fund (GCERF). They highlighted in their presentations the role that parliaments should play in counter-terrorism efforts, notably through their legislative and oversight functions. They also advocated for greater coordination and cooperation at all levels.
Further to the experts’ interventions, a total of 33 speakers, including two observer organizations, took the floor during the discussion. The majority of the interventions referred to actual acts of terrorism, counter-terrorism legislation, the funding of terrorism and the definition of terrorism. Many expressed concern that young people and women were increasingly involved in terrorism and highlighted the need for better prevention.
The Committee report was presented to the Assembly at its last sitting on 21 October by the President of the Standing Committee, Mr. R. Tau (South Africa).
(ii) Meeting of the Bureau and future work programme
The Bureau of the Standing Committee met on 18 October 2015. Eight out of 18 members were present.
The President of the Committee began by informing the Bureau members of the discussions held during the Joint Meeting of Chairpersons of the Geopolitical Groups and Presidents of the Standing Committees and its outcomes.
The Bureau established the Committee’s work programme for the 134th IPU Assembly. It decided that the entire time allocated to the Committee should be devoted to the resolution. That proposal was subsequently approved by the Committee plenary.
The Bureau also discussed its working methods, and the topics to be studied by the Committee. Two members of the Bureau stated that they would like to host additional Bureau meetings, including with the co-Rapporteurs, to discuss at length the resolution and other topics of interest.
(c) Standing Committee on Sustainable Development, Finance and Trade
The Standing Committee held its sitting on 19 October with its Vice-President, Mr. O. Hav (Denmark), in the chair.
The Committee discussed a draft outcome document of the Parliamentary Meeting due to be held in conjunction with the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris in December. The Rapporteur, Mr. H. Maurey (France), introduced the draft to the Committee for comments. The feedback provided by the Committee would be incorporated and presented to the Parliamentary Meeting organized by the IPU and the French Parliament on 5 and 6 December in Paris. Fifteen delegations contributed to the debate.
The Committee also heard a presentation on the 2015 Global Climate Legislation Study, to which the IPU had provided input. In addition, the Committee was made aware of the draft Parliamentary Action Plan on Climate Change, which had been developed at the initiative of the IPU President.
The Committee debated the subject item of its next resolution, Ensuring lasting protection against destruction and deterioration for the tangible and intangible cultural heritage of humanity. The theme was introduced by a renowned UNESCO expert and the co-Rapporteur from Belgium. Twenty parliamentarians took part in the debate, highlighting the importance of cultural heritage and underscoring the need to ratify and implement the agreements, conventions and standards that existed in that area. At the end of the debate, the co-Rapporteur reflected on the Committee’s deliberations and explained how the debate would feed into the draft resolution.
The Committee also held elections to fill the existing vacancies on its Bureau. Five vacant posts were filled by the African Group, the Asia-Pacific Group and GRULAC respectively. The Committee was informed that one Bureau member from the Arab Group and one from the Twelve Plus Group would no longer be able to participate in the work of the Bureau, and those members were therefore replaced by other parliamentarians from the same countries, who would serve the remainder of the former members' terms. Two vacant posts for the Eurasia Group remained unfilled. In accordance with the decision taken at the Joint Meeting of Chairpersons of the Geopolitical Groups and Presidents of the Standing Committees on 17 October, the Committee President would be elected at the following IPU Assembly in Zambia.
The Committee approved the Bureau's proposal to devote most of its allotted time to discussing the resolution. Time permitting, a panel discussion could also be organized.
The Committee report was presented to the Assembly at its last sitting on 21 October by the President of the Standing Committee, Mr. O. Hav (Denmark).
(d) Standing Committee on Democracy and Human Rights
(i) Democracy in the digital era and the threat to privacy and individual freedoms (Item 4)
The Committee held sittings on 18, 19 and 20 October with Ms. A. King (New Zealand) in the chair, replacing its President, Ms. F. Naderi (Afghanistan), who was unable to attend due to political events in her country. At its first sitting, the draft resolution on Democracy in the digital era and the threat to privacy and individual freedoms was presented to the Committee by the co‑Rapporteurs, Ms. B. Jónsdóttir (Iceland) and Mr. H.J. Jhun (Republic of Korea). In the ensuing debate, 31 speakers took the floor, of whom 35 per cent were women.
The Committee started its deliberations on the text of the draft resolution in the afternoon of 18 October. It had before it 115 amendments submitted by 15 parliaments (Canada, China, Cuba, France, India, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Kenya, Pakistan, Romania, Russian Federation, Switzerland, Thailand, United Arab Emirates, Venezuela and Viet Nam) and three amendments proposed by the Meeting of Women Parliamentarians.
The Committee worked in plenary to review the proposed amendments. The Committee voted to accept or reject the proposals and made some drafting improvements to the text. The inclusive working method produced a revised draft resolution which was adopted unanimously at the final sitting in the morning of 20 October.
(ii) Future work programme
The Bureau of the Committee met on 19 October to consider proposals for the future work programme. The Bureau had before it one proposal from the Russian Federation for the subject of the Committee’s next resolution that had been submitted before the deadline of 2 October (as stipulated under Rule 18 of the Rules of the Standing Committees). It also had before it eight proposals from other Member Parliaments and bodies of the IPU that had been made after the deadline, namely: Australia, Belgium, Cyprus (two proposals), India, Sweden, Uganda (on behalf of the Meeting of Women Parliaments), and the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians.
The Chair clarified that under Rule 20.4 of the Rules of the Standing Committees, the Bureau was free to put forward to the Committee any subject that it wished, regardless of whether it had been formally submitted by a Member Parliament or when the proposal was made. It was therefore within the remit of the Bureau to consider all the proposals that it had before it, as well as any other proposals that the Bureau members might make during the Bureau meeting.
The Bureau decided by consensus to forward two proposals to the Committee for the subject of its next resolution, from the Russian Federation and Australia. At its final sitting on 20 October, the Committee heard presentations on the proposals by those two delegations and voted in favour of the Australian proposal by 27 votes to 17. Accordingly, the subject of the next resolution, to be adopted at the 135th Assembly in October 2016, would be The freedom of women to participate in political processes fully, safely and without interference: Building partnerships between men and women to achieve this objective. The Assembly appointed Ms. L. Markus (Australia) as one of the rapporteurs of the resolution, and entrusted the IPU President with the responsibility of carrying out consultations with the geopolitical groups with a view to identifying the second rapporteur.
The Committee also endorsed the Bureau’s recommendation to accept a joint proposal from Mexico and the United Kingdom to hold a debate on Open Parliaments: Building an association on accountability at the 134th IPU Assembly in Zambia in March 2016, that would not lead to a resolution.
(iii) Elections to the Bureau
GRULAC nominated Mr. M. Bouva (Suriname) to complete the mandate of Mr. A. Misiekaba, a Bureau member from the same country. The Eurasia Group nominated Mr. V. Senko (Belarus) to complete the mandate of Ms. A. Naumchik from the same country. Both nominations were approved by the Committee. One vacancy on the Bureau from the Eurasia Group remained unfilled.
(e) Standing Committee on United Nations Affairs
The Standing Committee met on 20 October. Three new members were elected to the Bureau: Mr. I. Dodon (Republic of Moldova), Ms. A. Bimendina (Kazakhstan) and Ms. A. Trettebergstuen (Norway). Mr. A. Avsan (Sweden) was confirmed as President of the Committee.
The first session reviewed the work of the UN Peacebuilding Commission on the occasion of its 10th anniversary. Panellists included Dr. O. Jütersonke (Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies), Mr. S. Weber (Director General, Interpeace), Ambassador B. Stevens (Sierra Leone) and Mr. A. Correia, Deputy Speaker of the National People’s Assembly of Guinea-Bissau.
The second session focused on the role of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the resolution of international disputes. The ICJ was one of six principal organs of the United Nations. Professor M. Kohen (Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies) and Ambassador J. Lindenmann, (Deputy Director, Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs), shared their considerable knowledge of the ICJ and highlighted its strong record over the years.
The Committee Bureau met on 19 October. It decided to hold a hearing at its next session in Lusaka with the announced candidates for the post of UN Secretary-General. The Committee would dedicate one of its sessions to the modalities of reviewing progress on the SDGs and how to integrate that review into the IPU’s work.
The Committee looked forward to participating in the annual Parliamentary Hearing at the United Nations in February 2016 in New York.
The Committee report was presented to the Assembly at its last sitting on 21 October by the President of the Standing Committee, Mr. A. Avsan (Sweden).
(f) Debate on the emergency item
The role of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, parliaments, parliamentarians, and international and regional organizations in providing necessary protection and urgent support to those who have become refugees through war, internal conflict and socio-economic situations, according to the principles of international humanitarian law and international conventions (Item 7)
The debate on the emergency item was held in the morning of Monday 19 October, with Mr. M.R. Rabbani (Pakistan) in the chair.
Mr. M. Aldao (Sudan) presented the emergency item as its co-author, underscoring that the refugee crisis needed to be addressed together with its root causes. He added that, as all countries were affected, concerted action was crucial.
Ten speakers took the floor during the debate: Bangladesh, Belgium, Chad, Croatia, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Italy, Jordan, Palestine, Tunisia and Venezuela.
Many participants noted that the subject of the emergency item was an issue of international importance, which affected not only Europe, but many countries in Africa and other parts in the world. Some delegates concurred on the need to address the root causes of the refugee crisis, including poverty, conflict and war.
Several delegates highlighted the need to provide host countries with more resources, as the intake of refugees carried heavy economic costs. One delegate argued that there should be no discrimination against refugees on the basis of their country of origin; he condemned the policies of some EU countries, which he said criminalized certain refugees. Another delegate added that the influx of refugees should not be curtailed by the construction of walls. Instead, international cooperation on counter-terrorism should be enhanced as terrorism caused many persons to flee their country. Another participant advocated for the inclusion of a paragraph in the resolution to address the specific needs of children, women, and young people, who were particularly vulnerable to exploitation and sexual violence.
The debate ended with the second co-author of the emergency item, Ms. A. Al-Qubaisi (United Arab Emirates) underscoring the urgent need to help refugees and put an end to their demise at sea. She concluded by urging all countries to put into practice international laws and conventions in the interest of peace and security.
The Assembly referred the emergency item to a drafting committee made up of representatives of Chad, Croatia, Gabon, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Jordan, Mexico, New Zealand, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Sweden, Sudan, United Arab Emirates, Venezuela and Zambia.
(g) Adoption of the emergency item resolution
On 20 October, the IPU President acknowledged that Ecuador had submitted an emergency item proposal on a similar subject and thanked that delegation for its proposal. The Assembly unanimously adopted the resolution on the emergency item.
Mr. A. El Zabayar Samara (Venezuela), who had participated in the drafting committee, called on the IPU to send a mission to Turkey or Jordan to examine reports of sexual violence against women in refugee camps, as well as reports of trafficking of refugees.
5. Concluding sitting
At the last sitting in the afternoon of 21 October, the Assembly had before it the outcome document of the General Debate, as well as the reports of the Standing Committees.
The resolution presented by the Standing Committee on Democracy and Human Rights, on Democracy in the digital era and the threat to privacy and individual freedoms, was adopted unanimously. The Assembly also took note of the reports from the other three Standing Committees. It endorsed the subject item for the new resolution to be adopted at the 135th IPU Assembly in October 2016: The freedom of women to participate in political processes fully, safely and without interference: Building partnerships between men and women to achieve this objective.
The IPU President introduced the outcome of the General Debate, the Declaration on The imperative for fairer, smarter and more humane migration, which was endorsed unanimously. The President underscored the critical importance of migration and called on all parliaments to take urgent action to address the matter responsibly and effectively. The outcome had identified an inventory of good practices and avenues for parliamentary action that could serve people, societies and the international community well. He invited IPU Member Parliaments to report back on their initiatives and action.
Before the end of the Assembly, the following representatives of the geopolitical groups took the floor: Ms. S. Moulengui Mouélé (Gabon) on behalf of the African Group, Ms. A. Al-Qubaisi (United Arab Emirates) on behalf of the Arab Group, Ms. L. Markus (Australia) on behalf of the Asia-Pacific Group, Ms. V. Petrenko (Russian Federation) on behalf of the Eurasia Group, Ms. G. Condori Jahuira (Peru) on behalf of the Latin America and Caribbean Group, 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.
Looking ahead, the IPU President invited the Speaker of the National Assembly of Zambia, Mr. P. Matibini, to deliver remarks in his capacity as host of the forthcoming 134th IPU Assembly, which would be taking place in Lusaka from 19 to 23 March 2016. Mr. Matibini spoke of the preparations already under way for the next Assembly with a view to ensuring that the best possible conditions were provided. He invited all IPU Members and partner organizations to attend. A brief video was screened, which showcased the rich cultural and natural heritage that Zambia had to offer.
The IPU President thanked all the participants for their active participation and declared the 133rd Assembly closed.