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ISSUE N8
DECEMBER 2002
Page 1 of 8

C O N T E N T S
OF THE ISSUE

white cube IPU and UN
white cube Editorial: A Parliamentary dimension for the UN
white cube Gender issues: Are quotas necessary to have more women in parliament?
white cube Dossier:Decisions taken by the IPU Council in Geneva
white cube IPU News: The House of Parliaments becomes the new IPU Headquarters
white cube Event: The United Nations issues a stamp featuring the IPU
white cube Parliamentary Developments

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The World of Parliaments
 IPU and UN

UN General Assembly granted observer status to the IPU
with exceptional right to circulate its documents

Senator Sergio Páez
The new President of the IPU Council, Chilean Senator Sergio Páez, taking the floor at the UN General Assembly. Photo UN

On 21 November 2002, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution on cooperation between the United Nations and the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU). After granting observer status to the IPU earlier that week, the Assembly went on to give the IPU the exceptional right to circulate its official documents. Speaking at the UN General Assembly, the President of the IPU Council, Chilean Senator Sergio Páez, expressed the gratitude of the IPU to the United Nations and its Member States. "This resolution represents an important milestone in the evolving relationship between the world organization of national parliaments and the United Nations", he said.

Over the years, the IPU has played a discreet but rewarding role in bringing people together. "As parliamentarians, we are particularly apt at helping to solve problems by using our personal and parliamentary skills. We are often able to open up channels of communication and build bridges of international understanding when official diplomacy is unable or unwilling to do so. The fundamental notion underlying the exercise of democracy is the respect of the other. Democratic life entails both the right to differ and the acceptance of such difference by all. Parliamentary practice takes those differences and uses them to build majorities and forge agreements; we parliamentarians can therefore help to assemble the national consensus that is necessary for international action", added Senator Páez.

The President of the IPU Council recalled that "two years ago, the IPU brought to this hall the Speakers of the world's parliaments. In an unprecedented summit, the world parliamentary community, at the highest level, committed itself to providing a parliamentary dimension to international cooperation. The declaration adopted on that occasion also stated that parliaments embody the sovereignty of the people and can, in all legitimacy, contribute to expressing their will in the international arena. This assertion underpins the first important step on the long road towards a more democratic international order". Senator Páez concluded by welcoming "this opportunity to reinforce the relationship between the United Nations and national parliaments through the IPU" and committing the Union "to a new stage of cooperation with the United Nations that will provide mutual benefit to both organizations".

"Exception granted in view of the unique inter-State character of the IPU"

In its resolution, the UN General Assembly decided that the IPU will be authorized to circulate its documents at the UN. For the IPU Secretary General, Anders B. Johnsson, "this exception is granted in view of the unique inter-State character of the IPU as the world organization of parliaments. It is only natural that it should be able to distribute its official documents at the United Nations". He added that "it is one important way of bringing the voice of the people, through their elected representatives, to the United Nations". As the General Assembly was in session, more than 120 MPs from 34 countries and three regional assemblies participated in the UN/IPU Meeting of parliamentarians attending the 57th session of the UN General Assembly. They engaged in a dialogue with senior UN officials on major issues facing the United Nations.

The President of the General Assembly expressed his appreciation for the Cooperation between the IPU and the United Nations

Addressing the opening ceremony, the President of the United Nations General Assembly, Mr. Jan Kavan, expressed his appreciation for the cooperation between the IPU and the United Nations. "The 57th session of the General Assembly should be a new milestone in the cooperation between the UN and the IPU" he declared. "The world is still far from the goal of lasting peace, which was the main objective of the IPU founders more than a hundred years ago and which also inspired the founders of the United Nations. The world is, moreover, still struggling against poverty and underdevelopment, diseases, environmental degradation, unequal distribution of resources, human rights abuses and several other problems. None of these problems has a simple solution but all require the cooperation of the people of good will who can contribute to tackling them. The role of parliamentarians in the endeavour is crucial", he concluded.

Message from the United Nations Secretary-General

Sir Kieran Prendergast, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, read a message to the participants from the United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan in which he recalled IPU's substantive contribution to the work of the United Nations. He stated "the IPU has seized the opportunity to support the efforts of the international community - not least by familiarizing parliamentarians with the work of the United Nations and how it relates to the needs of their constituencies. That activity has brought us to the eve of the vote by the General Assembly to grant observer status to the IPU. I look forward to this action, which will usher in a new era in our relationship that will benefit both our organizations".

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